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The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Last Waltz Nashville: An All-Star Celebration of The Band's Historic Farewell Concert thrilled a packed house on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at the Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee. The event did its best to replicate the length of the original show by clocking in at just over four hours with a night of rapturous reverence that took us all back to a simpler time almost 43 years to the day when The Band was joined onstage by a cast of superstars on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.

The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners
The Last Waltz takes the stage once again in Nashville.

Billed as an inaugural holiday event the concert featured many musical legends and the industry's biggest stars including Darius Rucker, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Nathaniel Rateliff, Margo Price who joined the core group of Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Lukas Nelson, Don Was, John Medeski, Cyril Neville, Dave Malone, Bob Margolin, Terence Higgins, Mark Mullins and The Levee Horns. The Last Waltz previously brought their interpretation of that famous night to the Ryman Auditorium in 2017 and this calendar year they played a Fall run of a dozen shows leading up to this star-studded finale in Nashville

What set this night apart was the presence of Robbie Robertson and Emmylou Harris who both were prominently present in the Martin Scorsese produced documentary of the same name. The Canadian guitarist came out late in the second half and basked in the moment before telling the Bridgestone faithful about the origin of the original highly-acclaimed affair before returning a little later to weigh in on several band classics including "The Weight", "I Shall Be Released", and "Don't Do It" to close out a most memorable gathering in Music City.

The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners
Robbie Robertson, Don Was, Emmylou Harris and Margo Price in Music City.

What set the The Last Waltz apart from other concerts of its day is that it wasn't only songs by The Band that were featured. Highly memorable guests slots during that once in a lifetime lineup included stars like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young playing a selection of their own hits. To that end, Emmylou Harris joined Michael McDonald on Young's "Helpless" before reprising "Evangeline" that was added as a studio cut with the group on the 1978 three-record set that documented The Last Waltz on vinyl.

The highlight of the whole night easily went to Nathaniel Rateliff who recreated Van "The Man" Morrison's captivating "Caravan" right down to the leg kick the Irish singer put on film back in the day earning him a sustained standing ovation from the appreciative Nashville crowd.

The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners
What a night with Nathaniel Rateliff, Don Was, Darius Rucker, Emmylou Harris, Michael McDonald and Vince Gill.

Not to be outdone, Lukas Nelson - the famous offspring of Willie who has his father's hair and a reasonable facsimile of his voice - entertained with an energetic and explosive version of Robert Zimmerman's "Forever Young" that was eaten up by the fans in attendance who were celebrating a concert that took place over four decades ago - proving that good and timeless music stays forever young, indeed.

As expected, the house band were well-schooled and rehearsed in the music and stylings of The Band. With many of its members drawn from the fraternity of jam bands with its emphasis on long takes and improvisational twists and turns it did not surprise that many of the evening's numbers were significantly stretched out. When "Down South in New Orleans" was introduced featuring Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers and Dave Malone of The Radiators the twelve minute version had fans thinking about Mardis Gras nevermind Thanksgiving or Christmas. The extensive and expanded collection of beloved songs from The Last Waltz had everyone strolling down memory lane with those in the floor section up on their feet and dancing all night long.

The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners
Last Waltz band members Don Was, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson and John Medeski.

The Bridgestone Arena in the heart of Downtown Nashville is home ice for the Predators. It also holds a wide selection of events such as The Last Waltz. Coming soon to the Bridgestone Arena is WWE, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ariana Grande, Luke Combs, Jurassic World Live, Monster Jam and more.

Setlist: (Haynes, Johnson and Nelson performed on all songs) Up On Cripple Creek | King Harvest | Stage Fright | Georgia (On My Mind) | Acadian Driftwood | The W. S. Walcott Medicine Show | Down South in New Orleans (with Cyril Neville and Dave Malone) | Who Do You Love (with Cyril Neville and Dave Malone) | This Wheel's on Fire (with Dave Malone) | Life Is A Carnival | The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down (with Nathaniel Rateliff) | Intermission | Tears of Rage (Margo Price solo) | Chest Fever | It Makes No Difference (with Darius Rucker) | Rag Mama Rag (with Nathaniel Rateliff) | Caravan (with Nathaniel Rateliff) | Helpless (with Michael McDonald and Emmylou Harris) | The Shape I'm In (with Michael McDonald) | Mystery Train (with Cyril Neville and Dave Malone) | Mannish Boy (with Bob Margolin) | Further On Up The Road (with Bob Margolin) | Evangeline (with Emmylou Harris) | Ophelia (with Vince Gill) | Forever Young | The Weight (with Robbie Robertson) | I Shall Be Released (with all) | Encore | Such A Night (with Cyril Neville and Dave Malone) | Don't Do It (with Robbie Robertson)

The Last Waltz Strolls Into Music City With An All-Star Cast of Dance Partners
Lukas Nelson, Margo Price, Dave Malone and Cyril Neville.

Related Links: For more information on THE LAST WALTZ and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- The Last Waltz | Bridgestone Arena | The Last Waltz at the Ryman


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