A Fond Look Back at REVIVAL69: The Concert That Rocked the World

30 Nov

REVIVAL69

Opens in Select Cinemas across Canada beginning Dec 16, 2022
See Below for British Columbia Screenings
* Mild Spoiler Alert

‘Twas the summer of 69, and while many remember Woodstock as the event that transformed music, there were others, namely Toronto Rock and Roll Revival, where locals praised it as the “…the best show of my life.” The new documentary REVIVAL69: The Concert That Rocked the World by Director Ron Chapman looks at how the idea got started, and all the troubles that went with staging such a production.

I can’t help but wonder if a very young Bryan Adams was at this Canadian show to get inspired to play his six-string till his fingers bled. As for how this film can influence not only his destiny but also those who were there–including Geddy Lee, only time will tell. This frontman of RUSH was interviewed about how this concert changed him. Although some performers had trepidation about being here, they were ready and willing. Others who weren’t too sure took convincing. And as for John Lennon, this event showed to the world he’s “quit” The Beatles in a not so official way. But for him to offer a different style of performance theatre wasn’t without its hurdles either. The backstory is quite compelling, and I was glued to this subplot more than the other narratives.

Between the new anecdotes from industry insiders like Shep Gordon and Robert Christgau, archival B-roll, and added tales from fans remembering this event, the pain to create and the pleasure to be at this concert is more than evident. And for Alice Cooper, who had nine years of recognition since bursting into the scene, REVIVAL69 helped cement the band’s stardom. To hear the front man talk about his beginnings is a highlight, especially concerning a certain why there is a chicken on stage myth.

John Lennon at Toronto Rock and Roll Revival

John Lennon at Toronto Rock and Roll Revival

Between the new animated segments to show the sweat and tears that went on, I feel a lot of individual stories are told. We’re not just looking at what Brower went through. Instead, what we get is a look at who were the major players on the Toronto music scene in 1969 and what they did to help or hinder this promoter’s efforts. For example, if the executives from CHUM radio said John Brower‘s day-long event wouldn’t work, it would not. However, this young renegade promoter/organiser believed it could. Some say he literally laid his life on the line in order to give music lovers a memorable event to end summer with. Plus, to learn a certain motorcycle gang was involved makes for compelling viewing.

The list of who played at this all-day concert is huge, And for those who managed to attend Woodstock and Toronto Rock and Roll Revival, I’m jealous.

This documentary also gave us a taste of how well each band or musician got along behind the stage. It was a party, and I feel Chuck Berry–who was there–sums it up with one particular song, “Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music,
Any old way you choose it,
It’s got a backbeat,
you can’t lose it
… If you want to dance with me.”

5 Stars out of 5

REVIVAL69 is playing at
the
Whistler Film Festival‘s Maury Young Arts Centre (4335 Blackcomb Way)
Dec 2 @ 8:30pm and Dec 4 @ 5:45pm
and Vancouver Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street)
Dec 18 / 20 / 22 / 23

The Lineup: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, The Doors, Alice Cooper, and John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band—his first appearance without the Beatles, that included Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and Alan White.

REVIVAL69 Official Trailer

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