Grousing The Aisles: The Band’s “Real” Last Performance

Rick Danko Band 03/01/1978 SBD [MP3, Stream]

HT faves The Band are known for their legendary final show, billed as The Last Waltz and immortalized by Martin Scorsese’s film of the same name. However, The Last Waltz was not the last time the original members of The Band shared a stage. Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson all sat in with The Rick Danko Band for the final three songs of the bassist’s late set at The Roxy in Los Angeles, Calif. on March 1, 1978.

Thanks to original Relix editor and taper extraordinaire Jerry Moore we can listen to an excellent (though not perfect) soundboard-sourced recording of Danko’s late set which featured the sit-in. Rick’s performance starts off with a pair of songs from his recently released self-titled debut – Sip The Wine and New Mexicoe. From there, Danko and his solo band run through an interesting version of The Band classic This Wheels On Fire. After another pair of tunes from Rick Danko – Rick Danko, the members of The Band took the stage.

There’s no doubt the quintet known as The Band had a magical chemistry and it shines through during their last-ever performance. Garth Hudson spends most of the trifecta of Stage Fright, The Shape I’m In and The Weight on accordion, which is a bit too high in the mix (told ya it wasn’t perfect) but Robertson’s steely shredding sounds fantastic. While Don’t Do It was the final song performed at The Last Waltz, a stirring rendition of The Weight from this night will fittingly go down as the last tune ever performed by the original members of The Band. When The Band reformed in 1983 it was without Robertson. Richard Manuel’s tragic death in 1986 crushed any hopes of future reunions.

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