With almost all live gigs and festivals postponed or cancelled this year due to COVID-19, you can still amerce yourself by listening to the energetic, powerful, emotional and memorable sounds of live albums.
Here I roundup 10 of my favourite live albums from bands and artists I’ve seen live in the past and find them to be some of the best live performers in the world.
Courteeners – Mapping the Rendezvous [Live at Heaton Park] (2016)
I’ve seen Courteeners live on three different occasions; Reading Festival 2014, Glastonbury 2015 and O2 Guildhall, Southampton in 2018.
This live performance is on their fifth album Mapping the Rendezvous, live at Heaton Park in Manchester. Every time I listen to this show, I imagine myself back in the Radio 1/NME tent at Reading Festival watching them blasting out all their best hits.
They perform some epic songs from their debut album St Jude including Aftershow, What Took You So Long?, Please Don’t and everyone’s favourite, Not Nineteen Forever.
The fact the band was performing to a home crowd, emphasises their passion and emotion in their performance. Plus, the atmosphere in the crowd just sounds electrifying.
Listen on Amazon Music: Mapping the Rendezvous [Explicit] by Courteeners
Muse – Live at Rome Olympic Stadium (2013)
Muse is in my top 10 best live acts. I’ve seen them twice at Emirates Stadium, London in 2013 and on the main stage at Reading Festival 2017. I would describe lead singer Matt Bellamy as the Freddie Mercury of the 21st century – his vocal range is just outstanding.
This live album was also released in 2013 and took place at Rome Olympic Stadium in Italy. The band performs tracks from their album The 2nd Law including Supremacy, Madness, Panic Station and Explorers.
They also play some of their classic hits including Supermassive Blackhole, Resistance, Uprising and Starlight. Plus, my ultimate favourite Knights of Cydonia with its iconic and stunning harmonica intro.
Listen on Amazon Music: Live at Rome Olympic Stadium [Explicit] by Muse
Linkin Park – Road to Revolution [Live at Milton Keynes] (2008)
I was so grateful to see Linkin Park live at The O2 Arena, London in 2014, three years before Chester Bennington’s sad passing in July 2017.
The great thing about music is that it can be timeless and continuously played even after the death of a musician.
This live album was recorded in Milton Keynes in 2008. The set is heavy, energetic, powerful and emotional. A proper head banging, fist pumping and mosh pitting masterpiece.
Songs on the album include Given Up, Numb, Shadow of the Day, Crawling and In the End.
Listen on Amazon Music: Road to Revolution (Live at Milton Keynes) [Explicit] by Linkin Park
The Who – Live at Leeds (1970)
I was lucky enough to see The Who twice in the past five years. The first time was when they headlined Glastonbury 2015 and the second time was in July 2019 at Wembley Stadium. Obviously, at this stage the band has aged a lot and have other musicians supporting them.
Whereas, the album Live at Leeds is when The Who performed live at Leeds Festival in 1970, during their prime days.
I admit I only recognise a couple of songs – Substitute and My Generation. However, it is always good to discover music from past decades.
Listen on Amazon Music: Live At Leeds (Expanded Edition) by The Who.
Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud [Live at the King Power Stadium] (2017)
For Crying Out Loud is Kasabian’s sixth studio album and contains live tracks from their performance at the King Power Stadium in Leicester.
They perform a variety of songs from their back catalogue including Underdog, eez-eh, Days are Forgotten and Fire. My highlight is definitely L.S.F when they open it with Praise You by Fat Boy Slim.
I’ve been fortunate to see Kasabian live a couple of times at Reading Festival 2012 and at The O2 Arena, London in 2017, which were both amazing!
[NB: I was devastated to hear the news that Tom Meighan had to leave the band after pleading guilty to assaulting his girlfriend. I do not condone his behaviour but feel saddened that the band’s name and music have been tarnished by his actions. Also, will this be the end of Kasabian or will they continue as a trio or go in search for a new singer?]
Listen on Amazon Music: For Crying Out Loud (Deluxe) [Explicit] by Kasabian
Biffy Clyro – MTV Unplugged Live at Roundhouse, London (2019)
I haven’t listened to many MTV Unplugged albums, but I was curious to hear a stripped back set from Biffy Clyro and I was thoroughly impressed. I also love the fact that the crowd continue to sing along, cheer and call out the famous chant “Mon the Biff”.
They perform a collection of old and new songs including The Captain, Biblical, Rearrange, Many of Horror and Different Kind Of Love. Despite them being quite sad songs, my favourite tracks on this album are Folding Stars and Machines, especially when the crowd sing back the line “Take the pieces and build the skywards” in Machines.
Furthermore, halfway through the show, Biffy Clyro perform a cover of God Only Knows by The Beach Boys, which is also really good.
I’ve seen Biffy Clyro live in 2016 at The O2 Arena in London, which was incredible. I was hoping to see them again in Southampton next year, but unfortunately I failed to purchase tickets as the box office was closed and I was unable to secure tickets online in time.
Listen on Amazon: MTV Unplugged (Live At Roundhouse, London) [Explicit] by Biffy Clyro
Liam Gallagher – MTV Unplugged (Live At Hull City Hall) (2020)
Unfortunately, I was too young to remember the Brit-pop era of the mid 90s but as my music knowledge developed in my teenage years, I finally got to learn and love the work of Oasis. If a reunion was to ever happen, I’ll be in the queue for my ticket!
In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the solo work of Liam Gallagher. I even got the chance to see him perform at Reading Festival 2017.
This live album is also a MTV Unplugged show, in which Liam plays a mixture of solo stuff and classic Oasis tracks. My favourites have to be Wall of Glass, Once, Now That I Found You and Champaign Supernova
Listen on Amazon Music: MTV Unplugged (Live At Hull City Hall) [Explicit] by Liam Gallagher
Queen – Live at Wembley Stadium (July 1986)
Although I’ve never seen the original line up of Queen live – due to the fact Freddie Mercury died three years before I was born – and I keep failing to secure tickets to see Queen + Adam Lambert, I have technically still seen a Queen performance thanks to the tribute band Killer Queen in Weston-Super-Mare in 2019. Plus in January 2020, I went to Mayflower Theatre in Southampton to see the musical We Will Rock You.
This live album is a recording of the original Queen performing at Wembley Stadium in 1986. It has all the action, energy, love and magic you’d want from a Queen concert. It consists of almost all of Queen’s greatest hits including One Vision, Under Pressure, A Kind of Magic, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions and, the musical masterpiece that is, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Listen on Amazon Music: Live At Wembley Stadium by Queen
Live Aid (Live, 13th July 1985)
Yes, I am aware I was born nine years after this event took place and therefore never actually attended. However, I’ve watched many clips and documentaries about this iconic show and it features bands I’ve later grown to know, like and love.
The fact there is an album means people of my generation and generations after me can still get to experience Live Aid in some way.
For those of you novices who may have never heard of Live Aid, here is a quick summary. It was a music concert organised by musicians Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultrabox). The charity event was held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia to raise money, from ticket sales and direct donations, for the people who were victims of the Ethiopian famine.
Acts that performed at Live Aid included Status Quo, The Who, Elton John, U2 and David Bowie. But my ultimate favourite is, of course, Queen. I just think Freddie’s stage preference and voice is mesmerising, Brian and John’s guitars are powerful and Roger’s drumming is outstanding.
In February 2019, I did go to a sing-along screening of the Freddie Mercury bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody, where is re-created some of Queen’s Live Aid set. At the end of the film I said that this is the closest I’ll get to seeing Freddie live.
Listen on Amazon Music: Live Aid (Live, 13th July 1985) by Various Artists
Foo Fighters – Live at Reading Festival 2012
I know this isn’t actually a live album, but this performance is unforgettable and is still without a doubt the best night of my life! If they could make this set into an album, I would download it immediately.
The day is Sunday 26th August 2012 and my friend and I are sat on the wheelchair platform watching the Foo Fighters headline Reading Festival. It still amazes me that I’m actually one of those specs in the crowd, cheering, screaming and singing along.
This was the night I fell in love with music festivals. The whole set was mind-blowing. I love Dave Grohl’s passion and his interaction with the audience. Every song is just flawless.
My highlight has to be the crowd singing “WAOOOO” constantly during Best of You. Furthermore, closing with Everlong really did make me feel like; “If everything could ever feel this real forever. If anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I’ll ever ask of you. You’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when!”
Since then, I’ve seen Foo Fighters two more times – at Milton Keynes Bowl in 2015 and at London Stadium in 2018. They are my favourite live act of all time and I will continue to attend every UK tour they do until the end of time.
Watch on YouTube: Foo Fighters – Reading Festival 2012 (Full Concert)
So, they are 10 my favourite live albums. Be sure to check them out on Amazon Music or wherever you stream your music. What are your favourite live albums? Share them in the comments box or social media. Let’s keep enjoying live albums until live music can return in full!
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