Live versus Recorded

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Live versus Recorded

Postby Jabbadonut on Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:56 pm

I've been lucky enough to see hundreds of concerts in my life, and found that some bands sounded better live than their records. Some sounded worse, and some sounded about the same.
Better live:
1. ZZ Top. The best concert I ever saw was these guys at the Atlanta Civic Auditorium on their "Tres Hombres" tour. They flat out destroyed the audience, coming back for 6, yes 6, encores before the PA announcer came out, had the house lights turned on, and told us all to leave, as the band had already left. BTW, this concert preceded the actual release of that album, so none of us had ever heard any of the songs before (from the Tres Hombres album). The last encore they played was "La Grange." It was the first time I ever heard that song, and we, the audience, went absolutely insane at the last note.

2. Judas Priest. The "Turbo" tour. Rob Halford and company were so good, at one point the entire audience, each row, joined hands and swung back and forth to the music. It is the first, and only, time I have ever experienced anything like that. An entire audience joined together as one.

About the same live:
1. The Rolling Stones. I saw them a couple of times, and they pretty much sounded like their records. Nothing special, but not bad either

2. Metallica:
Again, pretty much like their albums. However, at one concert I saw them I was in the 17th row, and it was kind of like standing inside a jet engine.

Worse live:
1. Cheap Trick. By far the worst band I have ever seen. It was like they didn't know how to play their instruments, and didn't really know the songs they were playing. Most of the audience just up and left before the show was over.

2. Aerosmith. I saw them multiple times, and they just sucked. That's all I can say.

On a side note, I saw Bon Jovi open for the Scorpions. I am not a fan of them, but I have to admit they sounded great, and the audience (Scorps fans, not really a BJ audience) really got into them, surprisingly.

For the most part the concerts I have attended over the years have been good, with only a few exceptions.
Honorable mention as good live acts:
Electric Light Orchestra
Neil Young
Eric Clapton
Frank Zappa
Black Sabbath
Alice Cooper
The Who
Soundgarden
Led Zeppelin
Yes
Emerson Lake & Palmer
Journey
Talking Heads
The B-52's
The Monkees (yes, they were actually good when I saw them)
Peter Frampton

I invite everyone else to contribute their opinions/experiences to this thread.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Fievel on Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:31 pm

I'd have to dig through my ticket stub collection for a true list.
But off of the top of my head (and the year[s] I saw them):

Better Live:
-The Grateful Dead (1993-95) - Saw them 5 times before Jerry died. A couple of the shows were awesome. I'm more of a fan of their live shows from '73-'74
-Phish - (1994-2004, 54 times) This band is all about the live show. I could write pages on them. It's the hardest band to get new people to go see, but I've never had a "new guy" come out of a show unhappy with what they experienced.
-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1995)- One of the biggest surprises as far as how good the live show was.
-Dave Matthews Band - (1995, 1996, 2000)Love the band, love their live shows, can't stand the fans (could also apply to Phish).
-Blues Traveler - (1994-1996) They've faded out of the pop music spotlight but their live shows still rage on.
Would also include: Medeski Martin and Wood, Galactic, Ben Harper, Leftover Salmon

About the Same:
-REM (1995)- They had a good energy in their show, but the performances themselves were a touch sloppy.
-Metallica (1993) - Like REM there was a definite energy but sloppy performance.
-The Eagles (1995) - While most of the band was solid and having a great time, Don Henley never once smiled the whole show and that's what prevents them from being Better.
-Primus (1993-2000) - Solid live band.
-Ben Folds, both solo and Ben Folds Five (1997-8, 2000, 2005) - Great performances, nothing jaw-dropping.
-Beck (1998) - He's a dork live just as he is on his albums, and that's a good thing. Too bad he's a Scientologist - that was almost enough to lower the rating.

Worse Live:
-Bob Dylan - (1999,2000) I just can't stand Bob Dylan, especially live. He co-headlined two shows I saw. I walked out of one and skipped him the second time altogether.
-Smashing Pumpkins (1995) - Small arena and they were so loud I could make sense of what they were playing. Walked out after a few songs (free tickets so I didn't care). I've heard nothing but positive from friends who saw other shows.
-P-Funk All Stars (1996) - Horrible. I think George Clinton may have been the only original member on stage.
-Hole (1994) - It's Hole. 'Nuff said? (I actually like a bunch of their album songs)
-Page & Plant (1995) - They get this rating solely because of Jimmy Page - every solo he played was just horrible. Plant & the Moroccan pecussionists were awesome, though.
-The Police (2007) - A few songs were played in a lower key and that sucked all the energy out of them for me. Having said that, I'm still glad I saw them!

I may add more to this at a later date.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby minstrel on Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:45 pm

You've attended a lot more concerts than I have. But I have a tendency to collect concert DVDs of artists I like, and almost invariably, I prefer live performances to the original records. This may be due in part to the fact that I like improvisational music, jam bands, jazz, and the like, rather than tightly-controlled studio recordings. Most studio recordings are so slick, so calculated and sterile, that I find them nearly unlistenable. Often you can tell that a band wasn't recorded as a band - they had a drummer come in and lay down a drum track, then a couple of weeks later the bassist showed up, then the guitarist spent a few days putting down layers of guitar tracks, then keyboards were added, then finally, after a couple of months of perfecting the instrumentals, the vocalist is called in off the golf course or wherever he's been and he sings for a couple of takes. Ugh. I prefer hearing the musicians playing together, stretching out and trying new things, surprising each other, feeding off each other's spontaneous ideas, and really working to produce the music the best way they can that night. I want to hear them playing as though this one night they're going to do it better than they ever have before. I want to hear the band sweat.

If I want to hear an artist play a song note-for-note the way it is on the record, I won't go to the concert. I'll just stay home and listen to the record.

Sometimes a band gets better as they get older and more practiced. I saw The Who (probably my favorite band of all time) twice in the 70s, and Roger Daltrey had really developed into a powerful vocalist by that time - much more so than he sounded on the early records. So I got to hear him perform songs from Tommy in a way he couldn't have approached when the album was originally recorded, and he sounded spectacular. He hit some notes that were electrifying, spine-tingling in concert that just weren't there on the album, and created some moments that are among my favorite concert experiences.

Most of my favorite albums are live albums. Great bands make great live albums: The Who's Live At Leeds, The Allman Brothers' Live At The Fillmore East, Dire Straits' Alchemy, Yes' Yessongs, ELP's Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, Eric Clapton's Just One Night (and several others - Clapton releases lots of live stuff), Jethro Tull's Bursting Out, and so on and so forth. Of course, there are many great concert experiences that have been filmed and are considered classics: Woodstock, Monterey Pop, The Last Waltz, Live Aid, etc.

Let's face it: the best bands are the ones that live for the stage. A recording studio is nice, and it allows artists to create first drafts of music, but if that artist just plays those same damn notes the same way every night, every time on stage, than that artist is already a fossil. I like bands that treat their records as just a jumping-off point, and that strive to do something amazing and new every chance they get, every time the get up on stage.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Fievel on Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:09 pm

minstrel... you're alright in my book!! (I don't really have a book... but if I did...)
Fantastic post word-for-word.
If we still had The Zonies I'd nominate that, even if I had to make up a category to fit it.


Do you have The Allman Brothers' First Set and 2nd Set?
I absolutely LOVE 2nd Set for the acoustic Elizabeth Reed. The live versions in my two favorite newer ABB songs are sweet as well - Back Where It All Begins and Nobody Left To Run With.

The Allman Brothers Band is one I left off my list (3 times). Definitely better than the album.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Jabbadonut on Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:05 am

I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Jabbadonut on Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:07 am

Also, I have been lucky enough to perform in front of a live audience as a musician/singer several times in my life. There aren't very many things I'd rather do, for sure. It is very liberating to perform live.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Fievel on Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:39 am

Jabbadonut wrote:I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.


No, it's still Yoko's fault. Who in their right mind would want HER on the bus?!?!?!

Jabbadonut wrote:Also, I have been lucky enough to perform in front of a live audience as a musician/singer several times in my life. There aren't very many things I'd rather do, for sure. It is very liberating to perform live.


You obviously haven't tried stripping.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby minstrel on Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:09 am

Fievel wrote:
Jabbadonut wrote:I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.


No, it's still Yoko's fault. Who in their right mind would want HER on the bus?!?!?!


John Lennon?
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby minstrel on Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:16 am

Jabbadonut wrote:Also, I have been lucky enough to perform in front of a live audience as a musician/singer several times in my life. There aren't very many things I'd rather do, for sure. It is very liberating to perform live.


I played live a few times when I was a student. I had a gigantic case of stage fright back then and, while I got a lot of positive feedback from the audiences, I was too terrified to enjoy the experience as it happened. The last time I played in front of strangers was about 25 years ago, though, and in that time, two important things have happened: 1) I have become a much better singer; and 2) I stopped giving a crap what other people think. I'm sure the stage fright thing wouldn't be a problem these days.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:16 am

minstrel wrote:
Fievel wrote:
Jabbadonut wrote:I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.


No, it's still Yoko's fault. Who in their right mind would want HER on the bus?!?!?!


John Lennon?


he said, who in their RIGHT mind.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby minstrel on Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:48 am

TheBaxter wrote:
minstrel wrote:
Fievel wrote:
Jabbadonut wrote:I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.


No, it's still Yoko's fault. Who in their right mind would want HER on the bus?!?!?!


John Lennon?


he said, who in their RIGHT mind.


You have a point. But on the other hand, they were the Beatles. They could afford two buses, couldn't they?
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby Fievel on Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:30 pm

minstrel wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:
minstrel wrote:
Fievel wrote:
Jabbadonut wrote:I think the Beatles suffered ultimately because they stopped touring. That led to a lack of shared experience that eventually drove them apart from each other. It wasn't the only reason they broke up, but I think it was an important contributing factor.


No, it's still Yoko's fault. Who in their right mind would want HER on the bus?!?!?!


John Lennon?


he said, who in their RIGHT mind.


You have a point. But on the other hand, they were the Beatles. They could afford two buses, couldn't they?


Shit. They'd need four buses. You just know that Ringo is the type of douche that keeps asking "Are we there yet?" or pulling the "I have to go potty!" bit after only being on the road for 15 minutes on long road trips.
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby DerLanghaarige on Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:29 am

Last weekend was the "Rock am Ring" Festival in Germany and MTV even showed some live concerts. I didn't watch all, but what really stood out for me was (The) Gossip, because Beth Ditto sounds live seriously exactly like on CD. (I just which she had stopped to sing parts of Lady Gaga songs between the real songs.)
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Re: Live versus Recorded

Postby minstrel on Tue May 03, 2011 1:01 pm

I have just spent the past couple of evenings listening to The Who's "Live At Leeds". Jesus Fucking Christ. Pete Townshend, who is the creator of some of my favorite music in the world, didn't even need to show up. John Entwistle (God of the Bass) and the irrepressible, unstoppable, incomparable Keith Moon on drums together make enough sheer rock thunder to blow most other whole bands off the stage by themselves. Pete's power chords and Roger's vocals are just bonuses, like icing on the cake. This is one fucking unbelievable album. Anyone who was in the audience that night should consider themselves blessed.

Jesus Fucking Christ. The Who. Bow down, mere mortals.
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