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SALUTE TO LEVON

10/4/2012

The late Levon Helm was honored with a an all-star tribute show Wednesday night at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The three-and-a-half hour, 27-song Love for Levon featured performances by a number of his friends including Garth HudsonRoger WatersJoe WalshGregg AllmanBruce HornsbyMavis StaplesAllen Toussaint and John Hiatt, as well as some of today's acts who were inspired by Levon and The Band such as John MayerRay LaMontagne,Grace PotterMy Morning JacketJakob Dylan and country singers Eric Church andDierks Bentley

With limited stage production -- no video screens or photos of Levon and no speeches -- the show moved at a very quick pace with no delays between acts as they ran through a selection of songs from The Band and Levon's solo career.

Highlights included:

  • John Hiatt's version of "Rag Mama Rag," which suited his voice perfectly as he sounds similar to Levon.
  • The same can be said for Joe Walsh doing "Up on Cripple Creek," which had him andRobert Randolph doing an extended solo towards the end.
  • Garth Hudson, one of only two surviving members of The Band, received a standing ovation for his two appearances -- with John Prine on "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and with Dierks Bentley on "Chest Fever."
  • Ray LaMontagne and John Mayer added a kick to "Tears of Rage."
  • Allen Toussaint's version of "Life Is a Carnival" featured the same horn arrangements he did on The Band's Rock of Ages live album.
  • Grace Potter, saying it was a highlight of her life to be part of the show, turned in a stirring and electrifying version of "I Shall Be Released."
  • Roger Waters and My Morning Jacket took "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and turned into an arena-rock tune. When Waters came out he hung a red baseball cap on his microphone stand and said Levon gave it to him when The Band joined him in Berlin in 1990 for his performance of The Wall. He said he'll wear it as fishing cap until the day he dies.

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