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Louder Than Love - The Grande Ballroom Story DVD review

Rip-roaring account of fabled Detroit rock venue.

Between 1966 and the early 70s, Detroit’s Grande Ballroom boasted a reputation rivalled only by Bill Graham’s Fillmores as America’s hottest rock venue. While the MC5 and Stooges were almost house bands, acts seduced by the club’s electric, dope-fogged atmosphere included The Who (who chose to unveil Tommy in the US there), Led Zeppelin, Cream, the Fugs, Velvet Underground, Move, Blue Cheer, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Love, Spooky Tooth, BB King, John Lee Hooker and various local acts.

Starting with footage of the 1967 riots which commenced the ongoing ruination of Detroit for the next few decades, first-time filmmaker and Motor City home boy Tony D’Annunzio’s lively documentary celebrates the Grande’s glory days through the memories of former staff, punters and those who played there, including Roger Daltrey, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Wayne Kramer, Ted Nugent and BB King, who recalls crying at the warm reception he was given.

The only criticism is that the live footage, especially the MC5 in all their jams-kicking pomp, doesn’t go on longer, but the film paints a superb portrait of a time when such hotbeds of scorching rock‘n’roll and hedonistic excess could actually help fuel and shape an era.