The Last Waltz Tour 2019 @ Stifel Theater, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
There have been some great concerts throughout history but few are still emulated 43 years later. On Thanksgiving night in 1976, The Band said goodbye to their fans with a final concert at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Band founding member, Robbie Robertson, has assembled an all-star cast to recreate that magical evening, all those years ago.

The original concert guest list included such heavy hitters as Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, just to name a few. The names that signed up for the 2019 tour are also some of the best in the business. Singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson, guitarist Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers), and bassist / producer Don Was are the three primary performers on the Stifel Theater stage.

A supporting cast of musicians is equally stellar. Guitarist Bob Margolin, who performed in Muddy Waters band at the '76 concert, relays great firsthand accounts of the events surrounding the show. Cyril and Ivan Neville (keyboards / percussion / vocals), John Medeski (keyboards), Terence Higgins (drums), and the Levee Horns complete the ensemble. Added attractions country sweetheart, Margo Price and the Radiators' guitarist Dave Malone are thrown in for good measure.

Now that we have all the players assembled, let's recap the show. Robertson does not set out to copy the Last Waltz note for note. The three chandeliers hanging on the stage set are about the only things that  come close to a perfect replication. The cast picks their favorites to perform. A trademark of The Band was the sharing of vocal duties equally, this would be a respected tradition throughout tonight’s show. Johnson kicks it off with a surprisingly delicious version of  “Up on Cripple Creek”.

As I look and listen to these players I think to myself, “this is a lineup I would have never imagined gelling”. Boy was I wrong! The reoccurring theme of the right voices at the right time is continual present. Cyril Neville and crew bring you deep into the swamp with the vodooesque, “Who Do You Love”. Malone channels his inner Levon Helm during “This Wheel’s on Fire”. As I watch Haynes play it is evident he feels every note and takes great care in reproducing the historic tones.

After a brief intermission, Don Was introduces Margo Price. Price wastes no time showing what she’s capable of with a tear-jerking, acapella version of “Tears of Rage’. She makes this song even more personal when she said the first time she heard this song was at her son’s funeral in 2010. Haynes picks the pace back up by nailing Van Morrison’s “Caravan”. The haunting harmonies of Haynes, Johnson, Neville, and Price on Young’s, “Helpless” have Was applauding at the song’s conclusion.

Although Price’s parts were brief they were very punctual. Her country twang was the perfect partner for “Evangeline”. Margolin, who was 27 at the actual concert, tells the tale of the “after party”. The after party consists of him playing in a morning after supergroup comprised of Dr. John on piano, Ron Wood on bass, Levon Helms on drums, Paul Butterfield on harp, and Clapton, Dylan, and Margolin on guitars. With no microphones, they played softly enough to hear Dylan sing “Kind Hearted Woman”. Wow, what a story!

Three hours was not enough time to cover The Last Waltz in its entirety, but this is not what this show was about. It’s a celebration of a great concert and a great Martin Scorsese film! Right up until the closing notes small groups were dancing in the aisles of Stifel. Speaking of closing notes, everyone brought their best closing the main set with “I Shall Be Released”. “Such a Night” and “Baby Don’t You Do It” are the chosen encore selections. If this was the last concert I’d ever see, I could say most definitely it was one of the finest! Thanks to Blackbird Presents for allowing MTC MAG access to this show. And as always thanks to the Stifel Theater for their hospitality!

Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
The Last Waltz Tour 2019 @ Stifel Theater, St. Louis, MO The Last Waltz Tour 2019 @ Stifel Theater, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 12:00:00 PM Rating: 5
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