Notwithstanding my giddy joy over Block Party, I am generally disappointed with concert films. There’s an energy in a live performance that simply cannot be recreated on a screen. And yet over and over, I get sucked into watching the critically acclaimed members of the set. The Last Waltz. Stop Making Sense. And, now, Berlin.
A have an awful fondness for Lou Reed. Transformer is easily one of the greatest albums ever recorded. The Velvet Underground put out some great stuff. But I never quite got around to giving Berlin a listen. So there’s nothing about Julian Schnabel’s concert film that would be familiar (absent the surprise inclusion of variants on the Velvet’s “Candy Says” and “Sweet Jane”). The film does not suffer for its lack of familiarity, though. I dug on the music. Quite a bit.
But the visuals, as stoner-captivating as they are, are frankly quite dull. Indeed, I had to move the damned thing to the background to stay interested after only twenty minutes or so. There’s something profoundly uninteresting about seeing aging rockers stand on a stage with flickering images in the background. At least when television is involved.
So what’s the allure? Why do people keep suggesting I come back in the fold? I think I could understand more if there were visually interesting witty anecdotes. Or faces not completely hung up on the music. But what’s the appeal of the concert film?