June 21, 2020
Ahead of what would have been Glastonbury weekend, we pick the documentaries that best recreate the magic of gigs and festivals
From the Band to Beyoncé: concert films to fill the live music black hole
You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Since live music in the UK entered suspended animation on 16 March, even the most mundane aspects of gig-going have acquired an exotic tang. While revisiting the concert movies below, I found myself gazing longingly at arena corridors, stadium loading bays and festival burger vans, let alone musicians and crowds. I get giddy at the thought of watching a mediocre band play an early afternoon slot on the third stage of a minor festival. The noise, the spectacle, the people, the ritual of it. Spirit me to a performance by someone I genuinely love and I might faint.
This is live music’s lost summer: a packed calendar wiped clean in one swoop. The festival season is a black hole. Shows that were optimistically shunted back to autumn have now been kicked into 2021. The concert industry is worth more than $30bn a year, so its temporary disappearance is economically devastating for musicians and worse still for road crews, stage designers, caterers, venue staff and so on. For punters the loss is more intangible: an absence of joyful new memories; the phantom sense of what might have been. Every week my Google calendar tells me about another great night out that I should be having. Next weekend was meant to be Glastonbury. So much for that.
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