This list has taken me the longest due to all the research that was put into this. I looked at other lists and asked other people what they’re favorite live albums were and listened to them myself. Most of the time I didn’t care for it. Why? Live albums are tricky for me. Most of the time a band sounds so good, they sound exactly like the record (Green Day, Depeche Mode) therefore it feels pointless to listen to it regularly. So here are the nine that have made the cut.
- Live at the Vic in Chicago- Cage the Elephant
This band is becoming known for their live performances and this DVD/CD combo shows the crazy band in action. Usually with combos like these the DVD tends to be better than the CD itself, but here CD can stand on its own. It really gives you the chance to experience the band in a live setting. There are wild performances with frontman Matt Shultz howling and screaming like a mental patient. There are also intimate moments where the tempo slows down and Matt sounds sensitive and vulnerable. This album will make you rush out and see the band live for yourself.
- Mark, Tom, and Travis Show– Blink-182
This rare gem is Blink’s only live album and it shows even though they may make dick and fart jokes, they are serious when it comes to putting on an awesome show. The setlist spans their career up til 1997 and the songs are given fresh spins by replacing lyrics with…more dick and fart jokes. What casual Blink listeners may not like is the on-stage banter between the band members. The jokes range from funny, to gross, to WTF. The banter can actually be quite funny and captures the band’s sense of humor perfectly. Classic Blink tracks like “All the Small Things” and “Carousel” can be found here along with “new” songs like “Blowjob.” This album is worth getting if you can find it.
- Live Killers– Queen
It’s no doubt that Queen were one of the biggest and best live bands around. And this album proves it. What really caught me was the sped up, rockin’ edition of “We Will Rock You.” This record includes all the crowd favorites such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Killer Queen.” What makes the album even more amazing is how the crowd sings along with every song and when Freddie turns the mic over to them, it takes your breath away. It shows you what an affect this band had on their fans.
- Entreat Plus– The Cure
The Cure have quite a lot of live albums and they recently released another one in December of last year. And while that one is good, this one is one of my favorites. This edition of the album can be found on the re- release of Disintegration and this is where the band performs that entire album live. Not only is it great because it’s one of the band’s best albums in a live setting, but also the band’s energy is great here and every song sounds amazing. Robert Smith’s eclectic personality really shines through and it makes you feel like you’re at an actual Cure concert.
- Nocturne– Siouxsie and the Banshees
Most Banshees fans will argue that Seven Year Itch is the better live album of the two, but seeing as I think Siouxsie sounds like she smoked three packs of cigarettes before she got on stage, I prefer this album. Siouxsie sounds great here and her voice haunts every track. And with Robert Smith helping out on guitar you can’t go wrong with this record. Some great tracks you’ll find here are “Isreal,” “Sin in my Heart,” and “Cascade.” The DVD that goes along with this album is great too. The only complaint is there are more songs on the CD than on the DVD. It would be great to see all of those songs in action.
- Under the Great White Northern Lights– The White Stripes
The Whites Stripes were another great live band and their first live release proves it. Jack yells like a madman, wails on his guitar and will even mesh two of the band’s biggest hits together flawlessly. There is so much energy here that the album never gets boring. And what’s great about this album is the songs never run on too long. The movie that accompanies this album is a great watch, but to get right to the gritty performances get this record.
- H.A.A.R.P– Muse
This band is truly underrated in the States. They put on one hell of a show and their wild, energetic, maddening performance from Wembley is captured perfectly on this album. Matt Bellamy’s vocals are truly out of this world. He sounds like a gift from the heavens and it will send chills down your spine. His other worldly talent is best on displayed here. Not only are his vocals great, but his guitar and piano playing is stellar. Their biggest hits and less-known songs are featured on this record. This CD/DVD combo is definitely worth getting just to hear Bellamy’s voice take you away to another world.
- Show– The Cure
I did my best to pick one album per artist, but it was really hard to pick which Cure live album was best, so they both ended up here. Show is slightly better than Entreat because it has different songs by the band. The energy is great here and Robert Smith’s unique stage persona comes through on this record. Another thing that’s great is the guitar work. It’s stunning here. It really makes you realize how unappreciated Robert Smith is as a guitar player.
- Unplugged in New York– Nirvana
This one is on everyone’s list because it is one of the greatest live albums ever. It may not have the band’s biggest hits, but the covers are what really make the album. They are amazing and haunting all at the same time. Just listen to Cobain sing “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and tell me you don’t get goosebumps. This proved that the band was really talented since they could make the transition to acoustic and do it so well. This album becomes even more haunting when you think about how it was released after Cobain’s death. Songs like “All Apologies” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” take on a new meaning.
Is your favorite live album on this list? What would be in your top ten or nine of best live albums? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.