Following Canadian Celtic rock band Spirit of the West as they prepare for their final performances, filmmaker Pete McCormack documents the band’s race against time as their charismatic lead singer John Mann begins to succumb to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Spirit of the West’s immortal lyrics “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best” have a painful new resonance following Mann’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis at the age of 52. With the end of their frontman’s touring days looming, the band, with the support of Mann’s wife Jill Daum, plan a goodbye to their fans in their first and likely final performance at Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall. While Mann struggles to remain the captivating performer he’s always been even as the lyrics he’s known by heart for years slip away from him in the face of the “empty white wall” of Alzheimer’s, his bandmates try to balance their desire to provide one last blowout show for their dedicated fans with their concerns for their long-time friend’s well-being.
Archival footage and interviews interspersed through the film relate the band’s history and movingly depict the close-knit relationship between these marvellous musicians. Spirit Unforgettable is a must-see for Spirit fans, and an emotional tribute to a great Canadian artist.
“You don’t need to be a Spirit fan to be moved by what happens at Massey Hall—and in Mann’s life. Like the band’s music, the film is smart and sensitive without being sappy.” (Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail)