The acclaimed film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has spoken: the best concert movies are a symphony of cinematic and musical brilliance. From Stop Making Sense to The Last Waltz, these electrifying films capture iconic performances and audience euphoria with finesse.
Rotten Tomatoes' top-rated picks celebrate the marriage of music and film like never before. Take a look!
Stop Making Sense - The Talking Heads
"Bring the lights down, and it's just like a [live] performance. I promise you," said critic Tim Cogshell of FilmWeek. He's referring to the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.
It earned a whopping 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The performance shown in the film is from their concert at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983.
Amazing Grace - Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin was known as the queen of soul, and her concert film Amazing Grace did not disappoint. It garnered a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"The long-buried concert film is a tremendously powerful tribute to Aretha Franklin," said Adam Graham of Detroit News. The concert was filmed at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé - Beyoncé
In 2019, Beyoncé released her 2018 Coachella performance in a concert film called Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé.
"Beyoncé crafted the masterpiece with black pride and the spirit of historically black colleges and universities," said Jenee Osterheldt of the Boston Globe. The film has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Last Waltz - The Band
Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Last Waltz is the filmed concert of The Band at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in 1976. They were joined by other rock legends, including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, and Muddy Waters.
The film earned a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Simply one of the best rock docs ever, born of equal parts thunder and fatigue," said Peter Howell of the Toronto Star.
David Byrne's American Utopia - David Byrne
David Byrne of the Talking Heads released a concert film called David Byrne's American Utopia. Directed by Spike Lee, it features Byrne performing songs with international musicians.
"What they've managed to do is create a permanent record of this amazing show, which I think will go down as one of the most meticulously crafted and contemplated performances by a major musician in history," said Tim Robey of Monocle. The film has a 97 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Marley - Bob Marley
Marley, the concert film focusing on the life of Bob Marley, has a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Marley aficionados will be astonished by the depth and breadth of the documentary, which portrays the musician known as Tuff Gong as both a fallible man and an untouchable legend," said Radheyan Simonpillai of NOW Toronto.
Festival Express - Grateful Dead
Festival Express follows the Grateful Dead's 1970 concert tour with special guests, including Janis Joplin, The Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Buddy Guy.
It earned a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "The road doc format's nothing new, but it preserves such a brief, precious moment in rock history that it'll have fans captivated," said Anna Smith of Empire Magazine.
Springsteen On Broadway - Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen on Broadway is a filmed show of Bruce Springsteen's residency on Broadway in 2018. It earned a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"An absorbing viewing experience, one that comes with the warm, accumulating feeling that while under Bruce Springsteen's tutelage, everything makes sense," said Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese - Bob Dylan
From filmmaker Martin Scorsese comes Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese. It includes music performed by Bob Dylan during the fall of 1975.
The movie has a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "It is a great marriage of artist(s) and repertoire, and might slip past some people as just another talking head music doc. It's actually far more sly than that," said Jordan Hoffman of TV Guide.
Neil Young: Heart Of Gold - Neil Young
"[Neil] Young's presence, his heartfelt delivery, and the audience's fore-knowledge of his brain aneurysm add enough weight to make the film a surprisingly emotional experience," said Leo Goldsmith of Not Coming to a Theater Near You.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold was shot during the summer of 2005 at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, and has a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest - A Tribe Called Quest
Actor Michael Rapaport delves into the 1990s music scene in Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest. The film has a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Despite accusations of nearly succumbing to spotlighting beefs over beats, the film comes off as an honest representation of a great group that's not to be forgotten," said Kevin C. Johnson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Woodstock - Various Artists
Woodstock is one of the few concert films with a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It highlights the 1969 music festival with performances by Joan Baez, David Crosby, Grace Slick, and many more.
"Few documentaries have captured a time and place more completely, poignantly, and for that matter, entertainingly," said Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids - Justin Timberlake
"Even if [Justin] Timberlake's brand of funky pop is not to your liking, he proves himself to be such a forceful and gifted entertainer, that resistance is ultimately futile," said Nigel M. Smith of the Guardian.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids received a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was filmed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in 2016.
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions - Taylor Swift
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions earned Taylor Swift a whopping 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It details her experience making the album Folklore in 2020.
"With this film, she just does the two things she does best: making excellent music, and giving people a new reason to talk about Taylor Swift...," said Andrew Barker of Variety.
The Kids Are Alright - The Who
The Kids Are Alright follows The Who from their beginning in 1964 until Keith Moon's passing in 1978. The movie includes hits such as "My Generation" and "Pinball Wizard." It earned a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Classic performances abound, driven by energy and a synergy that's beyond perfect," said Tom Meek of Cambridge Day.
The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live In Hyde Park - The Cure
"If you know the songs, love the songs, even like the songs, it's sweetly euphoric, the only bittersweet element, time, time itself, yet it is also the strength: these guys know how to play these songs," said Ray Pride of Newcity.
The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live In Hyde Park received a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Depeche Mode: Spirits In The Forest - Depeche Mode
"The fun of this delightful bop of a film - not to mention its basic thesis - is located in the idea that Depeche Mode fans are way more widespread and diverse than you might imagine these days," said David Ehrlich of IndieWire.
Depeche Mode: Spirits In The Forest has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jazz On A Summer's Day - Various Artists
Many major artists, such as Louis Armstrong, were featured performers in Jazz on a Summer's Day. It was filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
"Jazz on a Summer's Day is as quietly vital a political document as it is a gloriously entertaining sprint through a long weekend that changed the music industry forever," said Richard Whittaker of Austin Chronicle. It earned a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Monterey Pop - Various Artists
Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and Otis Redding appear in Monterey Pop. It has a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"The effect is one of estranging intimacy, bringing us impossibly near to these sublime beings onstage and yet somehow ensuring that they remain forever mysterious, magical, and untouchable," said Melissa Anderson of Village Voice.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour - Taylor Swift
In 2023, Taylor Swift released Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. The movie features filmed footage of her history-making tour. It has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Swift's command of her audience—and of the moment—is so complete that she instantaneously airbrushes every questionable filmmaking decision into oblivion," said Stephanie Zacharek of TIME Magazine.
Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter gives the audience a glimpse of how impactful the Rolling Stones were during the counterculture movement of the late 1960s. It has a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Because of the warped chronology, Gimme Shelter makes for absorbing viewing. It's also a chilling lesson in humility," said Dan Lybarger of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Elvis: That's The Way It Is - Elvis Presley
Elvis: That's The Way It Is shows Elvis Presley in preparation for his 1970 Las Vegas concert series. The music documentary has a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Off-hand spontaneous moments... really capture just how drenched he was in talent and dedicated to his craft," said Leslie Felperin of Guardian.
The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights - The White Stripes
"Malloy mixes gorgeously grainy black-and-white and color footage of Jack and Meg White onstage and off; practically every shot in the movie could be blown up into a wall-sized poster," said Noel Murray of AV Club.
The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights has a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Beatles: Get Back - The Beatles
In 2021, Disney+ released a successful concert series revolving around one of the most popular bands in history. The Beatles: Get Back follows the band as they write and rehearse 14 new songs.
It has a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "...The Beatles: Get Back offers a thrillingly immersive look at the band's creative process," said critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Shine A Light - Rolling Stones
"As a concert film it's among the best: intimately shot, smoothly edited, endlessly involving," said Evan Williams of The Australian.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shine A Light documents the Rolling Stones' energetic performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York in 2006. It has a rating of 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Metallica: Through the Never - Metallica
"If Through the Never's attempts at creating a story-and-performance hybrid are only partially successful...its concert footage remains its prime selling point and strength," said Nick Schager of Film Journal International.
Metallica: Through the Never has the group performing a roaring set for fans with fictional sequences interwoven throughout. It has a score of 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Coachella - Various Artists
Artists such as Radiohead, Arcade Fire, the Flaming Lips, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes, the Chemical Brothers, and Björk appear in the 2006 concert film Coachella.
It received a score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. "Captures the fun, beauty and excitement of the annual summertime rock festival of the same name," said Patrick MacDonald of Seattle Times.
Sign 'O' The Times - Prince
"Prince, whose ties to soul and jazz are clearer than ever before, whose willingness to embrace different musical forms seems to grow all the time, has never cast a stronger spell," said Janet Maslin of the New York Times.
Sign 'o' the Times highlights Prince's 1987 European concert tour and has a score of 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Queen: Live In Budapest - Queen
Those who love Queen can hear songs such as "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "We Are the Champions" in Queen: Live in Budapest.
The concert film has a score of 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. "This is a band who lived to be on stage, and this is the best document I've seen of that experience," said Phelim O'Neill of Guardian.
Blackpink: Light Up The Sky - Blackpink
"Fans of documentaries, K-pop, or Blackpink should enjoy this film as we get to see more footage of the individuals that make up such a special group," said DarkSkyLady of DarkSkyLady Reviews.
Blackpink: Light Up the Sky has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88 percent and is available to watch on Netflix.