12 Great Live Albums to Remind You What Concerts Were Like

Featuring Beyoncé, The Stooges, Neil Young and more

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12 Great Live Albums to Remind You What Concerts Were Like

For the first time ever in the modern era, we’re dealing with a post-concert reality—at least for most countries and with the exception of goons like Smashmouth and The Chainsmokers. During this temporary hiatus from live music, we’re left looking elsewhere for overpriced beer, ear-splitting music and that tall guy who completely blocks the view. Just so you don’t forget how satisfying the live music experience really is, we’re sharing a dozen live albums released in the past two years to get your adrenaline pumping. Whether you’re looking for something grand, experimental or raw, we’ve got you covered. If you run through these albums too quickly (we’re going to be waiting for live music’s return for a while after all, especially in the U.S.), check out our list of the best live albums of all time.

Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album

Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, Tame Impala: None of those performers, or any of the others at Coachella 2019, were able to match the grandiosity of Beychella, Beyoncé’s epic pair of sets at last year’s festival. Netflix’s Homecoming, a documentary written, produced and directed by Mrs. Knowles-Carter herself, features stunning footage of each weekend’s set and dives deep into the symbolism, production and eight-month rehearsal process behind Beychella. The film also arrived with a surprise live album encompassing the entire Coachella set as well as new music. —Ellen Johnson

Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely

Offering a raw, loose take on the band’s material from 2016’s Teens Of Denial and 2018’s Twin Fantasy, the nine-track live album will feature eight Car Seat Headrest originals (plus a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Ivy”) culled from performances across the U.S., U.K. and France. The band recorded every show they played in 2018 and combed through upwards of 50 recordings to piece together the final tracklist for the album. “The recordings we made of the shows came out very clean, so rather than try to artificially recreate how it sounded in the different venues night to night, I tried to give the whole album that in-your-face feeling, like we’re playing the songs right in front of you,” frontman Will Toledo said in a statement. —Savannah Sicurella

Japandroids: Massey Fucking Hall

Canadian garage rockers Japandroids shared their first live album, Massey Fucking Hall, recorded at the aforementioned iconic Toronto venue from their 2017 tour with Cloud Nothings. “We’ve actually recorded a number of shows over the years, and for one reason or another, they just didn’t turn out,” drummer David Prowse explained. “We both like where this show catches us. We are at a bit of a crossroads in some ways between the band that put out Post-Nothing back in 2009 and where we are going. This setlist captures the first three albums really well and shows how much we’ve changed since those Post-Nothing days. We still have the energy but we have better command of our instruments and our voices. It feels a little less off the rails but still has a ton of momentum.” —Jack Meyer

Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys

Band of Gypsys, the iconic live record by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, was re-released by Capitol/UMe earlier this year as a special 50th-anniversary edition. The six-track record is a collection of two historic performances at New York’s Fillmore East on New Year’s Day 1970. Made up of funky, R&B sounds from bassist Billy Cox, an old friend from Hendrix’s early days, and the fusion of rock ‘n’ roll drumming from Buddy Miles and the slaying away on the electric guitar by Hendrix, Band Of Gypsys is made up of three very talented musicians coming together to create live album magic. —Daniella Boik

Kiran Leonard: World Argument Live

I first wrote about Kiran Leonard back in 2018, just after he released Western Culture, his first studio album and first with his backing band. The Manchester, U.K. singer/songwriter has been uploading music to Bandcamp since 2013, and he’s released three albums with Moshi Moshi Records—quietly becoming one of the most fascinating singer/songwriters and gifted artists of our time. His brand new release, World Argument Live, includes live recordings with his old band from 2016 and 2018, along with newly-recorded versions of previously-shared tracks. Leonard codes the song titles in abbreviated capitals, so it might be difficult to decipher for anyone unfamiliar with his music, but fear not, I can help—highlights include “Öndör Gongor” from 2016’s Grapefruit (“ÖN/GO”), “An Easel” (“EAS”) and “The Universe Out There Knows No Smile” (“U/OUT”) from 2018’s Western Culture. By the bold titles, you can tell Leonard isn’t your average artist—he has a unique sonic and thematic imagination that becomes apparent immediately. This new release merges chaotic art rock jams with regal and pastoral compositions that border on chamber-pop and psych-folk. This combination of experimental clamor and pretty subtleties is precisely what makes Leonard such a dramatic force of nature. File World Argument Live under “albums so incredible that you have to pace around the room in deep thought.” Leonard is donating the funds from this release to The Music Venue Trust and the United Families & Friends Campaign, so please consider purchasing it on Bandcamp here. —Lizzie Manno

LeAnn Rimes: Rimes (Live at Gruene Hall)

Two-time Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum-selling artist LeAnn Rimes celebrated last year’s Record Store Day with an exclusive, limited vinyl pressing of a new live album, Rimes: Live at Gruene Hall. It features a collection of 10 live performances celebrating Rimes’ love for all music, ranging from rock and pop to soul, country, gospel and blues. The album finds Rimes performing stripped-down versions of songs like Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pray and Joy” and Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind,” live from what a press release calls “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” —Lindsay Thomaston

Neil Young: Tuscaloosa

Neil Young can be irascible at the best of times, but things were looking particularly dour when he and his band The Stray Gators rolled into Tuscaloosa, Ala., in February 1973. Though his 1972 release Harvest was the top-selling album in America that year, Young was not in a celebratory mood. He was shaken by the recent death of his ex-bandmate Danny Whitten and was also unsettled enough by his growing solo success that he sought to undercut it by loading concerts with new material that audiences wouldn’t have heard before. Maybe that accounts for the arrival in October 1973 of Time Fades Away, a piecemeal live album of previously unreleased songs, instead of the hit-laden setlist from his Feb. 5 show at the University of Alabama. Young kept that recording locked away for 46 years before selecting it for his ongoing Archives series. Tuscaloosa showcases Young’s full range, which makes it a rare glimpse of a now-iconic performer at a moment when he was working to find a balance between satisfying himself and pleasing his audience. —Eric R. Danton

New Order: ?(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes..

If you’re looking for a New Order live album chock full of their greatest hits, go pick up Live at the London Troxy or Live at Bestival 2012. If you’re looking for a New Order live album with a more unconventional setlist, a broader artistic vision and a 12-piece synthesizer orchestra, check out this new one, the arty-mathy, horrendously titled ?(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes.. —Lizzie Manno

Penny & Sparrow: Live in Texas, 2019

Penny & Sparrow’s Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke weren’t planning to spend 2020 grounded. Like so many other thousands of musical acts who make their livelihoods the old fashioned way—by touring—the global pandemic was not in the cards. But, now, it’s a reality we’re used to as shows are being canceled left and right like falling dominos further and further down the calendar. Baxter and Jahnke are making the best of it. In lieu of touring, the Americana pair are throwing it back to 2019’s shows with a new live album recorded during their Dallas and Austin shows last year. It’s a stirring recording, especially hearing it after so long without live music. Live in Texas, 2019 holds special meaning for Baxter and Jahnke, as Austin and Dallas were the first cities they ever played in. —Ellen Johnson

Sonic Youth: Battery Park, NYC: July 4th 2008

Sonic Youth devotees wanting to hear Battery Park, NYC: July 4th 2008—a bonus collection of live tracks supplementing their final album, The Eternal—were S.O.L. for years. The assemblage of tracks spanning their 30-year reign has been out of print for a decade, and streaming services never managed to lock it down. That is, until last year. Battery Park, NYC: July 4th 2008 was released in both physical and streaming formats in honor of its 10th anniversary via Matador Records. Sonic Youth is considered one of the most influential rock bands of the last 30 years—Battery Park, NYC: July 4th 2008 showcases exactly why that is. Pulling material from works like Daydream Nation and Dirty, the album gives enthusiasts a lot to appreciate. —Drew Novak

The Stooges: Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970

Third Man Records has released the Stooges’ Live at Goose Lake: August 8th 1970, a never-before-heard recording of the proto-punk icons’ final performance with their original lineup. The performance came just before the band released their second album, 1970’s Fun House, and this live recording was released almost exactly 50 years later on August 7. Third Man Records says that the soundboard recording was discovered in a Michigan basement and “lovingly restored” by Vance Powell (The White Stripes, Chris Stapleton), mastered by Bill Skibbe at Third Man Mastering and accompanied with liner notes from Jaan Uhelzski (Creem Magazine). —Jack Meyer

Ty Segall: Deforming Lobes

Last year, prolific rock artist Ty Segall released a live album with The Freedom Band titled Deforming Lobes via Drag City. Recorded live during his 2018 tour supporting Freedom’s Goblin, Segall’s album features eight tracks from his show at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom and was mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio. Segall and company shared energetic and reinterpreted renderings from his hefty back catalog with this release. —Montanta Martin

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