In theory, studio recordings are as good as songs get. But if you’re more than just a casual listener, you know that isn’t true. Very few things beat the thrill of listening to your favorite song live. If you haven’t been lucky enough to see your favorite acts in concert, you know that bootlegs and live albums are a Godsend. The banter, the crowd’s enthusiasm and the additions to the track can make an already good song great. Don’t believe us? Here are 11 songs that sound better live:
Layla – Eric Clapton
It’s impossible to talk about iconic live performances without mentioning Clapton. The legend, whose shows are nothing short of memorable, always brings his A-game to the stage. But if we had to pick one song, we’d pick Layla. After all, the song’s guitar solo is unmatched by anyone, including Clapton himself! Add to that the audience participation, and you have a live performance that’ll give you chills!
Electioneering – Radiohead
Jonny Greenwood is truly one of the greatest guitarists of our time. Anyone who doubts that simply hasn’t seen Electioneering performed live! Though OK Computer is an impeccable album, hearing live recordings of the songs is nothing short of a religious experience. If hearing the album live is a religious experience, listening to Electioneering is like seeing God himself.
Take It Or Leave It – The Strokes
The band’s performance style has drastically changed in the last 15 years. But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s how flawless this song always sounds. Whether they’re playing it at Arlene’s Grocery Store or Madison Square Garden, Take It Or Leave It is the highlight of the band’s set. The crowd’s energy, combined with the iconic guitar solo, make this a performance that can’t be missed!
YYZ – Rush
From the moment the very first note plays, it’s obvious that YYZ isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill performance. As the song goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious that it isn’t. The instrumental track reminds us exactly why we love Rush. Every note of the song is nothing short of phenomenal. Moreover, the band’s energy and the crowd’s energy make this an enthralling performance from start to finish.
Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls – Daft Punk
We love Daft Punk, but even we have to admit that Human After All wasn’t their finest work… Or at least that’s what we thought before 2007. Every track on the duo’s set took already amazing songs to a whole new level. Mixing Crescendolls with Television Rules the Nation didn’t seem like the best idea in theory. However, we were in for a surprise!
Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
Jane’s Addiction have inspired some of today’s greatest bands. Once you watch a live performance by the band, it’s easy to see why. The band, whose albums are awe-inspiring, are even better live! There’s no better example of the band’s live prowess than any performance of Jane Says. Ever.
Sick, Sick, Sick – Queens of the Stone Age
If there’s one contemporary vocalist who has the chops for stadium rock, it’s Joshua Homme. This is crystal clear once you hear a live recording of this song. Every performance of Sick, Sick, Sick is larger than life in the best way possible! Homme‘s vocals, Leeuwen‘s guitar and the percussion culminate in a performance of epic proportions!
Transmission – Joy Division
True, there isn’t much of a difference between Joy Division‘s studio recordings and the live versions. But once you’ve listened to the Peel Sessions, you know that the band’s live versions have a charm that the studio versions lack. This, along with Curtis‘ unique and remarkable stage presence, makes Transmission best enjoyed as a bootleg!
The Moma Dance – Phish
You know what’s not fun? When you discover a great new song and it’s just a minute-and-a-half long. Fortunately, that isn’t the case for Phish‘s The Moma Dance. The track, which is just under 5 minutes long on the album, goes on for 10 (and sometimes almost 15!) minutes live! Weirdly, even that feels like too little when Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio start doing their thing!
Echoes, Part II – Pink Floyd
If there’s one song that has a studio version powerful enough to move us, it’s Echoes. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? Wrong. Pink Floyd took everything we love about the 24-minute track and presented it in a truly spectacular way. From each of the instruments to the vocals, there’s nothing about Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii that we don’t love!
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
When a band has a discography as impressive as the Talking Heads, it’s tough to pick one stand-out track. Or even an album, for that matter. But Psycho Killer is a whole new level of brilliant, isn’t it? Just when we thought the track couldn’t get any better, we heard the live version. What makes it so great? Two words – the bass.