The B List: The Best Concert DVDs of 2009

8. Paul McCartney – Good Evening New York City

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Over the past decade, there’s been no shortage of Paul McCartney concert films. Between 2006′s The Space Within Us, 2003′s Paul is Live and 2002′s Back In The US, Macca puts out a DVD every time he completes a tour. While most of the films I’ve mentioned are pretty damn good, Good Evening New York City is the best of the bunch thanks to both the energetic performance and skillful edits.

7. Black Crowes – Cabin Fever

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Cabin Fever documents the Black Crowes’ experience recording an album at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock, during which time the group took the unorthodox step of inviting a live audience in to become part of the process. The resulting documentary contains a nice mix of full songs and footage of the band partaking in the creative process.

6. Jeff Beck – Live at Ronnie Scott’s

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Jeff Beck and his awe-inspiring band including Vinnie Colaiuta and Tal Wikenfeld played a residency at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London back in November of 2007. Beck brought his A-game for these shows, which were documented on this two-hour plus DVD that features sit-ins from Eric Clapton, Joss Stone and Imogen Heap.

5. Paul Simon And Friends – The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

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While personally, I was waiting for a DVD release of Paul Simon’s magical Love in Hard Times concerts at BAM in 2008, this DVD filmed in 2007 features an all-star cast of musicians either joining Simon for versions of his tunes or covering Paul’s songs without him. Highlights include Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin and Jerry Douglas’ tender version of The Boxer, Simon singing Under African Songs with Miriam Makeba and Simon performing Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard with Stevie Wonder.

4. Tom Petty – The Live Anthology: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

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While Tom Petty’s Live Anthology isn’t exactly a DVD release, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes with two amazing concert films that can’t be ignored. The first DVD contains 400 Days – a 1995 documentary put together by Martyn Atkins that chronicles Petty’s Wildflowers tour. The second DVD features a previously unreleased concert from New Year’s Eve 1978 in Santa Monica. Hopefully the Petty camp will release both DVDs outside of this extremely expensive box set.

3. Nirvana – Live at Reading

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Nirvana’s legendary appearance at the Reading Festival in 1992 was finally released this year and there’s no doubt this concert lives up to the hype. Not only do we get plenty of material from Bleach and Nevermind, but we also get a taste of the tunes that would make up In Utero a year later. We’re glad Courtney Love and Dave Grohl were able to put aside their differences enough to green light this release.

2. Phish – The Clifford Ball

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Phish Inc. only put out one archival release in 2009, but they certainly made it count with this marvelous 7 DVD set that documents the band’s first festival – 1996′s The Clifford Ball. This release contains contains every note played during each of the six sets as well as killer footage of the legendary Flatbed Jam, the soundcheck and a slew of other bonus material. Considering the critical nature of the Phish fanbase, it’s a testament to the quality of the box set that we didn’t hear any complaints about this release other than “where’s Big Cypress?”

1. Wilco – Ashes of American Flags

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Just when you thought there was no room for originality in concert films out came this amazing documentary by producers/directors Christoph Green and Brendan Canty that brilliantly blends live footage and band member interviews. I’ve watched Ashes of American Flags about five times in its entirety this year and I still find something new each time. Not only do you get a feel for Wilco’s music, but the film also gives an insight into life on the road traveling to some of the country’s most beautiful venues.

Honorable Mention: Last Days of the Fillmore, Little Feat – Skin It Back Van Morrison – Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl, Iron Maiden – Flight 666, Live at Last: A Wonder Summer’s Night

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10 thoughts on “The B List: The Best Concert DVDs of 2009

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  4. zappafrank Reply

    Thanks for the list. I need that Return To Forever!

    Also, I think a Little Feat DVD came out this in 2009 also. Need to check that out.

  5. Matt Larson Reply

    Thanks for the article, my netflix queue just got a bit longer….

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  7. JB Reply

    How do you leave out Eric Clapton & Stevie Winwood live at MSG?

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