If the afterlife works in a way that’s fair and just, Levon Helm and his old pals Rick Danko and Richard Manuel were looking down on the impressive roster of talented musicians lined up for the Love For Levon concert at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey paying tribute to their music and were smiling proudly. After The Last Waltz the members of The Band never received the accolades they deserved as the post-Robbie Robertson incarnation of the group played small clubs and bars. Sadly, it took Helm’s passing to get the music of The Band back in an arena. But enough of the sappy stuff, let’s talk about what a magical night of music took place in the swamps of New Jersey.
[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]
The setlist for the two sets of Love For Levon were composed of tunes from The Band’s catalog, the group’s live repertoire and Helm’s solo career with the exception of Marc Cohn’s gorgeous 2007 original Listening To Levon. An all-star cast of musicians were backed by a house band that featured the members of the Levon Helm Band along with famed producer Don Was on bass and in-demand session drummer Kenny Aronoff. My Morning Jacket took the stage without the house band, though the Levon Helm Band horns stuck around for MMJ’s three songs.
Garth Hudson made a few appearances and The Band keyboardist received the biggest ovations of the night – a fitting tribute to the only original member of the group on the bill. A brief intermission broke up two lengthy sets and there was no encore, though nearly every performer from the evening sat in on the closing The Weight. Here’s a look at the setlist from Love For Levon…
Set One: The Shape I’m In (Warren Haynes), Long Black Veil (Haynes and Gregg Allman), Trouble In Mind (Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff), This Wheel’s On Fire (Levon Helm Band w/ Shawn Pelton), Little Birds (Levon Helm Band), Listening To Levon (Marc Cohn), Move Along Train (Mavis Staples), Life Is A Carnival (Allen Toussaint and Jaimoe), When I Paint My Masterpiece (John Prine & Garth Hudson), Anna Lee (Bruce Hornsby), Ain’t Got No Home (Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee of Foo Fighters/Wallflowers), Whispering Pines (Lucinda Williams), Rag Mama Rag (Mike Gordon and John Hiatt)
Set Two: Don’t Do It (David Bromberg and Joan Osborne), I Shall Be Released (Grace Potter, Don Was and Matt Burr), Tears Of Rage (Ray LaMontagne and John Mayer), Rockin’ Chair (Dierks Bentley), Genetic Method (Garth Hudson) > Chest Fever (Dierks Bentley), A Train Robbery (Eric Church), Get Up Jake (Eric Church), Tennessee Jed (John Mayer), Up On Cripple Creek (Joe Walsh and Robert Randolph), Ophelia (My Morning Jacket), It Makes No Difference (My Morning Jacket), The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (My Morning Jacket and Roger Waters), Wide River To Cross (Amy Helm and Roger Waters), The Weight (Everyone)
We’ll break down the show in song-by-song format with videos…