George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh was an unprecedented landmark event when it occurred in 1971. The brainchild of Ravi Shankar, it was the first time that a group of artists of that magnitude had come together to raise money for a specific cause. There had been concerts like Woodstock and other great convergences of talent, but they had never been for the purpose of focusing the world’s attention on the suffering of one country’s people. The country of Bangladesh, to say nothing of the plight of its people, wasn’t even known to most Westerners at the time. The Concert for Bangladesh set the stage for the flood of benefit concerts that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for various causes and charities over the last thirty-five years.
Watching the re-release of The Concert for Bangladesh in 2005 is like stepping back in time to Madison Square Garden on that August night in 1971. The fact that the scale of the concert and the size of the venue made it nearly impossible for the cameramen to communicate with the technology of the time gives the footage a spontaneity and sincerity that has no connection to the sometimes contrived and overproduced examples we see today. The convergence of the powerhouse musicians, who seamlessly worked as one without ego and competition, is as inspiring today as it was then. This newly re-mastered edition contains an additional disk packed with special features including a documentary that takes you behind the scenes at the concert, never before seen footage of rehearsals and sound checks, and the making of the film and the album, as well as all of the raw power produced by the partnering of the musicians.
For those who were there at the time or lived through the impact that this concert had, the new two-DVD set is bound to stir a sense of nostalgia and act as a reminder of a more innocent time when we could still be shocked by famine and suffering. This release is something that comes around the bend only once in a while. It’s an essential for those who were there and a great look back in time for those who are seeing it for the first time.
Purchase the DVD here