The 10 Best Concert Films to Watch at Home
These films bring the live show experience into your living room.
Artists have been releasing live albums for years, but a concert film can bring you even closer to the performance. In recent years, live performance clips have become even more relevant, with some artists relying on them entirely to promote their music in lieu of touring. Thankfully, with the power of a proper home theater system or sound bar, a good concert film can often be as gratifying as seeing a band in person.
Here are 10 of the very best that you can enjoy in the comfort of your living room.
1. The Last Waltz
Legendary director Martin Scorsese staged this masterwork documenting The Band’s final concert, in the process revealing the tangible camaraderie that permeated the Winterland Ballroom that memorable November night in 1976. Many consider The Last Waltz as being the best of the genre, and for good reason: Not only does it provide an intimate, up-close portrait of the group’s denouement, it manages to capture the zeitgeist of ’70s rock music in the process. In an unprecedented parade of talent, bonafide stars such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and others take the stage to play their own original material, as well as jamming with Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm and company. Stream it here.
2. Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
Homecoming cemented Beyoncé’s status as one of the greatest pop stars of our time, documenting her now-legendary performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. What’s especially fascinating about this film is the combination of vivid performance clips showcasing the entire set, along with behind-the-scenes footage documenting the creative direction of the concert and the events surrounding it. Stream it here.
3. Alice In Chains: MTV Unplugged
Of all the grunge bands, Alice in Chains were perhaps the most suited for the acoustic format of the MTV Unplugged concert series. They had already proven as much with 1994’s stripped-down Jar of Flies EP. Applying the tone of that collection to an entire live set, AIC put on a heart-wrenching performance, with sparse and minimal arrangements that added emphasis to the songs’ emotional weight and placed the pain-drenched vocals of frontman Layne Staley center stage. It may be a time capsule of halcyon days gone by, but it’s a requisite artifact of the era nonetheless. Stream it here.
4. Nirvana: Live at Reading
Notwithstanding their own breathtaking performance on Unplugged in 1994, Nirvana’s appearance at the 1992 Reading Festival in England — finally released officially in 2009 to widespread acclaim — was arguably just as important to the band’s development. It was an infamous event, perhaps best known for Kurt Cobain’s intro stunt. Playing off the then-rampant headlines surrounding his drug abuse and personal life, a smock-wearing Cobain is pushed on stage in a wheelchair. The morbid bit ends with him falling over after taking the mic and laying splayed across the stage. The jokes stop there, however, as Nirvana proceed to blast through an airtight, ferocious set. Stream it here.
5. Dave Chapelle’s Block Party
Comedian Dave Chapelle’s biggest contribution to the music world was 2005’s Block Party. With cult director Michel Gondry at the helm, Chapelle curates a who’s-who dream lineup of mid-2000s hip-hop talent that includes Kanye West, Mos Def, The Roots, Common and Erykah Badu. Watching this film is like hanging out at an actual party MC’d by Chapelle. It’s a true cross-sectional document of rap and R&B during that memorable era just over 15 years ago. Stream it here.
6. Prince: Sign o’ the Times
Prince was a potent live performer, as many of us got to witness during the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show. At the peak of his popularity, he was downright godly, as evidenced by this visual supplement to his 1987 album Sign o’ the Times. Despite being a box office bust, critics and fans have praised it for being a palpable document of Prince in his prime. He even gets to flex some of his acting talents during the between-song narrative clips. Stream it here.
7. Pink Floyd: Pulse
Pink Floyd were always known for their immaculate light shows and visuals; you could listen to their records over and over again, but you really had to see the band live to fully experience them. Thankfully, the 1995 concert film Pulse would fill that void. The spherical light fixture used during this show is now iconic among Floyd fans, as it somehow lends itself to each song featured here, from “Learning to Fly” to “Comfortably Numb.” One expects nothing less from the group, who play a gargantuan 145-minute set that includes a full performance of The Dark Side of the Moon. Stream it here.
8. Fleetwood Mac: The Dance
This 1997 concert film and live album of the same name signaled the reunion of Fleetwood Mac’s most successful lineup: Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie. Whatever the history between the band members, it was put aside for a career-spanning set of greatest hits and even a few new originals from the three primary songwriters. Unlike 1980’s Live film — compiled across 60 shows — The Dance was shot in one night at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. The controlled recording/filming environment gives this a rare sheen that’s irresistible to the attentive home viewer. Stream it here.
9. The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park
In July 2018, goth rock pioneers The Cure performed this 29-song set to over 65,000 fans at London’s Hyde Park. The show celebrated the group’s four-decade career and was released as a full-blown concert film in 2019. One might expect that they wouldn’t quite sound the same after all the years apart, but they put on a timeless performance that could have been lifted from their peak in the late ’80s. From the opening cinematic splash of “Plainsong” onward, the band casts an irresistible spell over those in attendance and anyone who decides to watch this riveting film. Stream it here.
10. Metallica: S&M2
In 2019, Metallica reunited with the San Francisco Symphony to reprise 1999’s S&M concert. Across two September evenings, the band played career-spanning sets backed by symphonic flourishes, re-imagining songs such as “Master of Puppets” and “Nothing Else Matters” in an orchestral metal style. Original S&M director Wayne Isham was there to capture the proceedings, and the resulting 150-minute concert film is a love letter from Metallica to its fans. The many shots of the band members’ interacting with the ecstatic audience are as entertaining as the powerhouse performances. Stream it here.