It’s been over 34 years since the Concert for Bangladesh. I was just 17 at the time – in fact, it was something like two days after I had gotten my drivers license. I lived in NJ, only about 20 miles from the site of the Concert but I seem to remember not knowing much about it until after the fact. I do remember spending a lot of time listening to All Things Must Pass, which I had gotten for Christmas the year before, and I was also a fan of Cream and Eric Clapton. I played his first solo album a lot back then. I also played the album from the concert and I picked up the CD when it came out some 10 years ago.
So it was with great anticipation that I watched the DVD of the concert for Bangladesh this morning. I certainly have no issues with the transfer from film to DVD – it looks and sounds just fine. I also have not yet watched the extras – I’ve read that the 45 minute documentary on the making of the concert and the film is almost worth the price of the DVD all by itself and I’m looking forward to watching it. I’d seen the film only once before in a theater and, to my knowledge, it had not been released on VHS so this is an occasion for George Harrison fans, of which I number myself one.
So here are some random thoughts now that I’ve seen this concert again after all these years:
- Technology has come a long way. Things are better in tune now; musicians can hear themselves and each other on stage much better.
- Bob Dylan had to adjust his own mike stand before he could play. That wouldn’t have happened today – it would all be set before he went out there.
- The film crew was making it up as they went along – it took nearly the whole verse that Leon Russell sang in “Beware of Darkness” for them and for the light crew to find him!
- Rock was a lot more countercultural back then! Now rock music is all about show business – back then, the musicians hardly acknowledged the crowd – that was too much like being one of those old fogey entertainers.
- Eric Clapton was not in a good place in his life – he almost could have been absent on the stage. Even his solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” sounds like he’s hardly trying.
- Billy Preston was cool.
- Ravi Shankar smiled a lot more during his set than I expected him to based on just listening to the album for all these years.