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Carly Simon Live from Martha’s Vineyard (A Music Video Review)

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Carly Simon - Live from Martha's Vineyard - The Classic Concert

Carly Simon – Live from Martha’s Vineyard – The Classic Concert


Starring Carly Simon, Rick Marotta, Hugh McCracken, Jimmy Ryan, Robby Kilgore, Robbie Kondor, Michael Brecker, Tom “T-Bone” Wolk, Lani Groves, Kasey Cisyk and Frank Simms.

Directed by Jeb Brian and Tony Mitchell.

Distributed by Grandstand Entertainment.  70 minutes.  Not Rated.

One problem with watching concerts on video is that a concert stage is just not intrinsically stimulating visually.  Basically, you are sitting looking at a bunch of people standing around holding instruments with lots of wiring, lights and blackness surrounding them.  So right off the bat, Carly Simon Live from Martha’s Vineyard has an advantage over most live vids.  The concert is done on a dock on the bay in the famous beach community, with seagulls circling above, gorgeous beach homes, gentle bay breezes, quaint huts, water lapping up, boats chugging by… It certainly is a picturesque setting for a concert.

Of course, this was not just an aesthetic staging decision, it was also one of comfort for the star.  Carly Simon has a notorious case of crippling stage fright.  She had not performed live in years before this one-off show.  So instead of going to some impersonal stadium, she decided to create her own stage in her own backyard.  (Fellow stage fright sufferer Barbra Streisand had pulled a similar trick at about the same time, having her first concert in over twenty years on her own Malibu estate.)

This concert was taped in 1987, at the tail end of Simon’s nearly twenty year residency at the top of the charts.  With hindsight, the concert seems a little top-heavy with her mid-late 80s work at the expense of ignoring earlier classics like “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” “Legend In Your Own Time” and “Haven’t Got Time For the Pain.”  However, those 80s songs were current at the time, so it does make sense that she performed them.  Or perhaps she was setting a mood, because with the exception of the venomous “You’re So Vain,” which was such a huge hit that it would be conspicuous in its absence, the songs in the concert tend to be the kinder, gentler Carly Simon.  The songs I pointed out as missing could be much more acerbic about affairs of the heart.

Still, the film does show one of the great singer-songwriters of her generation in fine form, with a crack group of session players.  Simon looks completely at ease when belting out such deserved classics as “Nobody Does It Better,” “You Belong To Me,” “Coming Around Again” and the DVD bonus track “The Right Thing To Do.”  “Anticipation” is still a stunningly beautiful song, and “You’re So Vain” still packs a bitter punch.

If you couldn’t be there, and let’s face it, most of us couldn’t, Carly Simon Live from Martha’s Vineyard is an important musical time capsule.  It shows a terrific artist at the top of her game.  (4/04)

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2004 All rights reserved. Posted: June 16, 2004.

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