In 1976, Lynyrd Skynyrd delivered a historic performance at Knebworth House, as support for headline act The Rolling Stones. And yet, once the so-called ‘Southern Rock’ titans took to the stage, everybody forgot the Stones even existed. Rock n’ roll journalist Ian Fortnam since said, “Thirty-one years on and I’ve never witnessed a crowd react to support a band in the same way that Knebworth did to Lynyrd Skynyrd”. Festival promoter Freddy Bannister wondered “how anyone could follow them”.
Presented in its entirety for the first time and fully restored, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 delivers a rocking set, flawlessly performed by a band on top of their game – and sadly, just a year before a fateful plane crash would take three of their lives and tear the band apart. Watching this performance with that knowledge is certainly bittersweet; seeing the band performing so phenomenally and commanding the 150,000+ crowd with this historic performance is wonderful, while knowing that the incredible momentum did not have much longer to grow is depressing.
Looking at the positive, though, Live at Knebworth ’76 is a remarkable display of showmanship and musical artistry. The band are absolutely on fire and while their two most well-known anthems Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird are, unsurprisingly, performed to the delight of the crowd, highlights during the film come in the form of lesser-known tracks like Searching and a barn-storming rendition of Jimmie Rodgers’ T for Texas. The audio of this release – offered up on the Blu-ray in the form of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 tracks – is beautifully crisp and clean, sounding brand new with impeccable fidelity. Image quality shows the limitations of the source, but that is to be expected with what was evidently shot on rather low-end tape. It isn’t particularly imaginatively filmed anyway, with the plentiful shots of Confederate flags being flown by the crowd a rather upsetting sight. The highlight here is, of course, the music. And that sounds flawless.
Also included on the Blu-ray release is Stephen Kijak’s fascinating and compelling documentary feature If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd. Packed with archive footage of the band and telling the story of their meteoric rise, tragic end, and enduring legacy, it is frankly just as good as the main feature itself. How many special features can you say that about?
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 is an essential release for music fans. With incredible restored audio bringing some real oomph and fidelity to the blistering concert, Eagle Rock Entertainment have outdone themselves with what will surely act as the definitive live Skynyrd release for fans of the iconic band.
- Workin’ for MCA
- I Ain’t the One
- Saturday Night Special
- Whiskey Rock-a-Roller
- Travelin’ Man
- Gimme Three Steps
- Call Me the Breeze
- T For Texas
- Sweet Home Alabama
- Free Bird
Live at Knebworth ‘76 is available now as a DVD/CD, Blu-ray/CD and LP/DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment