I’ve never been one for live albums. If there’s a clean studio version, I’d prefer to listen to that. That was B. C. (before COVID-19), when I had the privilege to go out and see my favourite artists perform live whenever and wherever they were touring.
But now, almost 12 months since the last gig (Tove Lo at O2 Forum Kentish Town on March 12 2020), live albums are all I have to bring me close to that feeling of experiencing music live. Intimate moments shared between you, the artist, the music, and thousands of others.
“That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”Foo Fighers’ Dave Grohl
Live music hits different. The energy. The crowd reaction. People pushing past you, talking over songs, being too loud, too quiet, losing your spot, having your view obstructed, needing to pee and missing your favourite song. These are all part of the live music experience.
Stardust were right when they said Music Sounds Better With You. The raw emotion and energy on these live albums, is a reminder of the important role that live music plays in human connection and bringing people together.
David Bowie – Glastonbury 2000 (Live)
Only one of the most special live recordings of all time. The album was recorded during David Bowie’s Sunday night headline slot at Glastonbury Festival on 25 June, 2000. It was released 18 years later on 30 November, 2018. Adoration from the crowd can be felt through the recording, and Bowie’s star shines at its brightest.
“I often get asked what the best set I’ve seen here at Glastonbury is, and Bowie’s 2000 performance is always one which I think of first. It was spellbinding; he had an absolutely enormous crowd transfixed. I think Bowie had a very deep relationship with Worthy Farm and he told some wonderful stories about his first time at the Festival in 1971, when he stayed at the farmhouse and performed at 6am as the sun was rising. And he just played the perfect headline set. It really was a very special and emotional show.”Emily Eavis (Glastonbury Organiser)
Arctic Monkeys – Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Arctic Monkeys are a band famed originally for their raucous, indie-rock anthems; every song sounding like it had been written for the encore. When the band returned after a 5-year album hiatus, piano driven ‘Tranquility Base and Hotel Casino’ stirred up a genre debate that felt irrelevant. Arctic Monkeys took a risk with a new direction, and when you hear songs from the new album live, you realise it was a risk worth taking. Arctic Monkey’s special recorded live performance at Royal Albert Hall demonstrates Alex Turner owning his title as the best songwriter of his generation.
Sorry – A Night At The Windmill
One of our 21 for 2021, future festival headliners Sorry, have released a live album from a show they did at The Windmill in Brixton, London last November, 2019. Comprised of songs from their incredible debut album ‘925’, along with 2 unreleased tracks, the limited edition recording is available to buy exclusively on Bandcamp. All money goes towards support for The Windmill; one of the many independent music venues, struggling to stay open. ‘A Night At The Windmill’ is an album that could age well, as Sorry will predictably go on to headline O2 Academy Brixton one day.
Paolo Nutini – These Streets (Live from Kentish Town Forum)
A throwback to the good old days. If Paolo Nutini came out of hiding, lockdown would get 5% easier. There appears to be no sign of that happening any time soon, but you can get your Paolo fix from the raw bonus live recordings of songs from ‘These Streets’ performed live at Kentish Town Forum in 2007.
Rex Orange County – Live at Radio City Music Hall
South London artist, Rex Orange County, made it all the way to a sold-out Radio City Music Hall in New York with his bedroom pop. The live album delivers chills as you hear fans hang on every line Rex performs as they sing back his lyrics word-for-word.
DMA’S – Live at Brixton
For an Australian band famously obsessed with British bands and the britpop era and 90s rave scene, any UK show is special for DMA’S. Set for release on 5th March 2021, ‘DMA’S – Live at Brixton’ celebrates the one year anniversary of their hugely successful headline show at London’s famous O2 Academy Brixton. The iconic show happened just before the pandemic halted touring for the foreseeable future. The Sydney band are booked to headline Edinburgh Summer Sessions this coming August (subject to coronavirus restrictions). This live album will give you all the feels of a sweaty indie gig, the best!
Biffy Clyro – MTV Unplugged: Live At Roundhouse, London
One of the best UK festival headline acts of all time, Scottish band Biffy Clyro, are renowned for their high-energy sets that end literally with a bang as fireworks fill the sky. Recorded at the band’s one-off acoustic show on November 8, 2017 at Roundhouse, Camden, ‘MTV Unplugged’ shows a different side to Biffy Clyro.