It seems that music documentaries are becoming increasingly popular, with big-name directors jumping at the chance to tell the stories of bands – some famous, some not-so-famous.
With the news that Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary is on the way later this year, and Spike Jonze's Beastie Boys documentary is landing on Apple TV next month, it's the perfect time for a reminder of some music documentaries that you really should have seen by now. Not only that, but Anvil – the Canadian metal band who came to wider prominence after the release of 'The Story of Anvil' in 2006 – are playing Dublin tonight.
With that in mind... (and please note: we've omitted concert films from this list, which is why the likes of 'The Last Waltz', 'Stop Making Sense', 'Woodstock', Beyonce's 'Homecoming ' et al are missing.)
1. ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
They've been described as a 'real life Spinal Tap!' and this 2008 rockumentary is just as entertaining. Director Sacha Gervasi followed the down-on-their-luck Canadian band as they venture to Europe for a 'reunion' tour and attempt to record a comeback album. It's hilarious and touching in equal measures.
2. THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON
Daniel Johnston was a musician and visual artist who became known for his work within the lo-fi and 'outsider' genres from the late 1970s onwards. The childlike simplicity of his songs, such as 'True Love Will Find You', have made them modern masterpieces. This tender 2005 documentary chronicled his life and career, and how his struggles with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder impacted both. There's sadness in his story, yes – but it's also seriously uplifting, too. Sadly, he died last September at the age of 58.
3. BIGGIE & TUPAC
They were two of the most famous rappers of their generation, and they were both murdered within months of each other in late 1996/early 1997. But who killed The Notorious B.I.G. And Tupac Shakur? Nobody has ever been charged with the crimes, and Nick Broomfield's fascinating 2002 documentary doesn't necessarily have a definitive answer, either – but it does point the finger of suspicion at one man: Suge Knight. Even if you're not a rap fan, this is great.
If nothing else, Asif Kapadia's 2015 documentary left one lingering feeling: what a waste of a talented life. Amy Winehouse's problems with alcohol and drug abuse has been well-documented, but Kapadia goes beyond the tabloid headlines and gets to the heart of the Londoner's story. It deservedly won an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Grammy amongst many other awards.
5. NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN
Unless you're a Bob Dylan aficionado, his extensive back catalogue and his long career can prove a little overwhelming to get to grips with: there's just so much to know. This 2005 documentary, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a great place to start for any Dylan newbie – as well as providing insights into his life and burgeoning career around the early/mid 1960s. A five-year snapshot of his arrival into NYC until his 'retirement' (and his move from folk to rock), it's a really well-told story and features contributions from many of his friends and associates at the time.
If you've ever expressed more than a passing interest in humming along to 'Bohemian Like You', this film will be right up your street. Shot over seven years, DiG! tells the story of two bands who came up together on the same scene (The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and the fractious relationship between their two frontmen as one of them 'made it' and the other didn't. It's brilliant. In fact, we're going to re-watch it tonight ourselves.
7. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM
Backing singers get a raw deal from the moment they step on stage and another big name (literally) hogs the limelight. This 2013 documentary, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, tells the story of some of those unsung heroes of music, and features big names you might recognise, too – from Mick Jagger to Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder. But this film is very much about those unheralded names who have stood, as the title suggests, 20 feet from stardom.
8. METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER
Since this film's release, Metallica have expressed remorse at allowing filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky into their inner circle during the making of their album 'St. Anger'; the film depicted a band mired in turmoil and tension and it's safe to say that they didn't come out of it looking too well. For us viewers, though? It was thoroughly entertaining to watch a band near breaking point. Grab the popcorn.
9. FYRE: THE GREATEST PARTY THAT NEVER HAPPENED
If you've ever been to a party with a disorganised host – where are the snacks? You forgot to get ice? No seriously, where are the snacks? - you'll recognise the shitshow that was the Fyre Festival, a 'luxury' music festival that was meant to have taken place in the Bahamas in 2017. How could something have gone wrong so badly? Luckily, there was a camera crew on hand to document its gobsmacking unravelling – and make a star out of the 'Evian' guy.
10. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?
You may know Nina Simone's music, but were you aware of just what a fascinating life she led? This 2015 film tells the legendary singer's life story, from her work in the civil rights movement to her personal life and of course, her astounding career. It also features some previously-unheard recordings and rare archival footage.