Poster for Concert Magic in 1948 at the Towne Cinema in Toronto, Ontario

A concert film, or concert movie, is a film that showcases a live performance from the perspective of a concert goer, the subject of which is an extended live performance or concert by either a musician[1] or a stand-up comedian.[2]

Early history

The earliest known concert film is the 1948 picture Concert Magic. This concert features virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916–1999) at the Charlie Chaplin Studios in 1947. Together with various artists he performed classical and romantic works of famous composers such as Beethoven, Wieniawski, Bach, Paganini and others.[citation needed]

The earliest known jazz concert film is the 1959 film Jazz on a Summer's Day. The film was recorded during the fifth annual Newport Jazz Festival.[3] The earliest known rock concert film was the T.A.M.I. Show, which featured acts such as The Beach Boys, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and the Rolling Stones.[4]

One of popular music's most ground-breaking concert films is Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972), directed by Adrian Maben, in which Pink Floyd perform a short set of songs inside the amphitheatre of Pompeii without an audience (save for the recording crew).


The term "rockumentary" was first used by Bill Drake in the 1969 History of Rock & Roll radio broadcast and is a portmanteau of "rock" and "documentary".[5][6] The term was subsequently used to describe concert films containing appearances by multiple artists.[7][8] Then, in 1976, the term was used by the promoters of the live musical production Beatlemania which documented the evolving career of The Beatles.[9] The 1984 mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap notably parodied the rockumentary genre.[10]

Other examples

Other examples of this type of film include Menudo's 1981 film, Menudo: La Película, and Duran Duran's 85-minute 1984 video, Sing Blue Silver. The former mixes a Menudo concert (in Merida, Venezuela) with movie scenes and a plot, while the latter follows Duran Duran as they travel around Canada and the United States doing concerts and actual tourism.


  1. ^ Sandahl, Linda J. (1987). Rock films: A viewer's guide to three decades of musicals, concerts, documentaries and soundtracks 1955-1986. Facts on File, Inc. p. 7. ISBN 0-8160-1281-4. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  2. ^ Bailey, Jason (4 April 2016). "Glenn Ligon Deconstructs Richard Pryor's Stand-Up". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  3. ^ Eil, Philip (29 July 2016). "This 1960 Jazz Film Shaped Concert Documentaries as We Know Them | NOISEY". Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ Richards, Kevin (16 December 2009). "Legendary T.A.M.I. Show Featuring James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and More Coming To DVD « American Songwriter". Archived from the original on 25 August 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  5. ^ "The Reel Top 40 Radio Repository - The History of Rock and Roll Demo". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  6. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (April 5, 1969). "'Rockumentary' Radio Milestone". Rolling Stone. No. 30. p. 9.
  7. ^ Aletti, Vince (August 31, 1972). "Our Latin Thing". Rolling Stone. No. 116. p. 42.
  8. ^ Landau, Jon (July 19, 1973). "'Let the Good Times Roll' indeed". Rolling Stone. No. 139. pp. 62–63.
  9. ^ Spires, Shari (December 26, 1980). "A 'Rockumentary' About the Beatles Comes to Sunrise". The Palm Beach Post.
  10. ^ Times, Los Angeles (9 May 2013). "'This Is Spinal Tap' LP to be reissued June 11 -- on black vinyl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 August 2016.