Fillmore: The Last Days

January 01, 1970

(Rhino, 160 minutes)

By the end of the sixties Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditoriums (in San
Francisco and New York City) had become the definitive music presentation
halls in the country. Even for the millions of music enthusiasts living
everywhere else in the country, they were a beacon, a stamp of approval,
anointing acts as they built their reputations on the road, and record as
well as in the media. Graham closed them in 1971. He died twenty years
later. Now nearly another twenty years have gone by and the concert
documentary <i>Fillmore: the Last Days<i> has been reissued on DVD.
It is
an effective piece of work because, at this remove, it captures so many
aspects of the era. From patterns of speech and clothing styles, to office
decor and pre-cellphone and wireless telecommunications. The film does have
some split screen shenanigans that were the faux-edgy innovation of the
day, but not so much as to topple the endeavor (as it nearly did in the
concurrent <i>Mad Dogs & Englishmen<i>). A dozen bands and 18
songs were
culled from the five nights of concerts. Those that manage to resonate now
do so because they were not overly dependent on aping their influences.
Lamb and Cold Blood, the two most forgotten of the lot, show why that is
the case. Elsewhere Quicksilver Messenger Service showed that they could
soar one moment (“Fresh Air”) and then skid out of control the next
(“Mojo”). The film also reveals the uneasy balance that was the Age
Aquarius. Clearly over, it was most likely never a reality anyway. The
sense of community was best shown by the Rowan Brothers playing basketball.
The low point was Graham having to battle with Santana’s demands for
headline supremacy.

Special Features: none. Running
time: 160 minutes. DAVID GREENBERGER




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