If you’re bummed about not being able to see live music for what could be an exhausting six months, fear not, as the Internet is your new best friend.
While many artists are taking to streaming mini-concerts and performances via social media, YouTube is already home to some of the greatest concerts ever recorded. Many of the performances have never been officially released, giving you the chance to view some of the world’s most iconic gigs from the comfort of your lounge room. Here are seven of the best.
Talking Heads – Live From Rome, 1980: While most music lovers will point to Talking Heads audio/visual masterpiece Stop Making Sense as one of the greatest concert films of all time, the band’s live show in Rome is arguably just as good. Filmed for Italian television, the set is dominated by tracks from Remain In Light, including an epic version of ‘Born Under Punches’. This concert also includes the revamped live line-up featuring Parliament-Funkadelic founding member Bernie Worrell, touring guitarist Adrian Belew and sublime vocalist Dolette McDonald. What it lacks in choreography and style (something Stop Making Sense has in abundance) it makes up for in pure artistry and energy, with David Byrne staking his claim as one of the all-time great frontmen.
Bjork – National Theatre, Reykjavik, 1999: Touring for her third album Homogenic, Bjork proves she an eclectic talent with her final mesmerising performances at the National Theatre in her home country of Iceland. Shot over two nights, the bare-footed pixie is joined by an Icelandic string octet and musician and producer Mark Bell behind the decks. Wearing a simple white outfit and face paint on her forehead, Bjork dazzles as she dances across the stage with the innocence of a child, performing the likes of ‘Hyperballad’, ‘Hunter’ and personal favourite ‘Joga’. This is a career-defining moment in Bjork’s evolution as a live artist and set the stage for her more elaborate showings to come.
Prince – Staples Centre, Los Angeles 2004: Prince is one of those artists you could pick from a dozen different concerts and each one would be as good as the other. For me, it’s his opening show for the Musicology tour at the Staples Centre. This first full-length American tour in four years found The Artist Formerly Known As delving into his extensive back catalogue for a crowd-pleasing two and a half hours. Singing, dancing and playing guitar, Prince performs his biggest hits (‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Little Red Corvette’, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’), has multiple costume changes (the open black and white polka dot shirt is a winner) and finishes with an epic rendition of ‘Purple Rain’. It’s epic. There will never be another Prince.
Radiohead – Glastonbury Festival, UK 1997: There are certainly more recent performances capturing the greatness of Radiohead, but their first headlining spot of Glastonbury is a watershed moment in the group’s journey. Despite a few technical issues that nearly saw Thom Yorke abandon the gig, the group powers on and delivers for the thousands of fans in attendance. Radiohead set the bar high for future headliners with a live set encompassing everything that makes the bad so good. Highlights included opener ‘Lucky’, ‘The Tourist’ and the mid-set three-song punch to the gut of ‘Paranoid Android’, Karma Police’ and ‘Creep’.
The Cure – Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, 1984: Originally released on VHS (Video Home System for those of you under the age of 30), you can now watch The Cure’s awesome 18-track Japanese performance on YouTube. Released during the peak of their career in the mid-80s, you get all the big hits alongside album favourites ‘Play For Today’, ‘Shake Dog Shake’ and ‘The Top’. Robert Smith’s vocals are spectacular, and the OG goth looks way less freaky than he does today. Weirdly, this concert film also includes an interview and backstage footage interspersed throughout the live performance.
Beyonce – Glastonbury Festival, 2011: Glastonbury has been criticised over the years for its choice of headliners. As music taste changes and fans crave diversity, the Glasto organisers realised you can’t just book rock acts every year. Four years after Noel Gallagher bagged-out her husband for taking centre state, Beyonce got her chance to shine and did not disappoint. The first woman to headline in over 25 years, Beyonce cemented her status as a pop music Queen with a set that includes all her hits (along with a seven-song Destiny’s Child melody) and covers of Kings Of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’ and Prince’s ‘The Beautiful Ones’. Backed by an all-female band and a stage show to match her intoxicating presence, Beyonce leaves the 175,000 plus crowd in awe of her incredible talent. The Beyhive approves.
Beastie Boys – Open Air Festival, Germany, 1998: For a group who impacted hip-hop so much during the 90s, there are few full-length Beastie Boys concerts available. The fan-shot Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That! gives you a surreal experience of what it’s like being in the audience of a Beastie’s show, but this concert footage from their slot at Open Air Festival gives you a sense of just how great these three MC’s really were. Keeping things simple the trio strut around the stage in red and blue jumpsuits going through all their biggest hits. Professionally shot with astonishing sound quality for that era, this is the Beastie Boys at their peak. If you missed seeing them live I feel for you.