With live gigs and open mic nights out of the picture, some of us not only crave the outside world for social interactions, but the visceral joy of musical engagement. No streaming schedules required, here are our top picks of euphoria-inducing, hauntingly beautiful, live performances on Spotify to soothe your ears from the comfort of your sofa.
Music aficionados all over the globe wept in unison to the news of live venue closures and shackled summertime festival plans. We’re even banned from supporting local bands at our favourite bars. If you’re craving that first-hand ecstasy hit from glorious riffs ringing through the speakers and countless others howling your favourite chorus in mutual pleasure, we feel you.
This week’s playlist is an ode to spectacular live performers — dead and alive. When not everyone could smash a stage performance as they would in the studio, these artists effortlessly show up and show off! We’ve sprinkled a little bit of everything. Jazz, blues, pop, rock, old, new — we’re stirring a melting pot of Spotify’s best.
If you could host a tailor-made festival for yourself, what would the line-up look like? Here’s ours. (Playlist available on Spotify)
Never Going Back Again (Acoustic Duet) by Fleetwood Mac
Described as ‘gorgeous’, ‘delightful’, ‘bubbly’ and ‘the prettiest thing’ on the entire Rumours record, this mellow number written by Lindsey Buckingham bears a bad-news subject matter but it was very elegantly done that it could light up any room.
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright (Live in Japan 1967) by Peter, Paul and Mary
The acoustic guitar and wonderful vocal blending of Mary’s soprano, even after nearly five decades, still boast a fresh sound that is meaningful and haunting. Their rendition of the Bob Dylan classic is slightly different with key and lyrics change, but done beautifully without diluting any of Dylan’s folk and blues elements.
Bennie and The Jets (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London / 1973) by Elton John
Raw and real is how we like our Elton! The vintage Hammersmith performance, in our opinion, heard one of the rock n roll star’s best live versions of Bennie and The Jets that the sweaty euphoria down the crowd’s bell bottoms feels palpable.
Heroes (Live) by David Bowie
As much as we adore the original, there’s nothing that keeps our hands (lighters) in the air and feet on the ground more than Bowie’s live performances of Heroes. Though the rendition at Live Aid in 1985 was described as ‘the best version of Heroes [Bowie] had ever sung’, this 2003 one was his most recent (and as good as any). From the build up to the minute it peaks, Bowie would be the hero of our dream line-up that we could sadly only dream of.
Valerie (Live at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, London / 2007) by Amy Winehouse
The bluesy love song written by The Zutons was powerfully captured by Winehouse’s one in a million vocals, proving that she was more than a spaced-out pop star but a truly captivating jazz singer (not that she needed to prove to anyone).
Cherry Wine (Live) by Hozier
This haunting acoustic was written to promote awareness of domestic violence. Hozier delivered just that and sent us to solemn grounds with this live performance for its powerful emotions done in his signature clean-cut flair.
Gravity (Live at the Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, CA – December 2007) by John Mayer
Gravity. John Mayer. Live. Ask Google, or anyone. It’s our all-time favourite live performances for reasons we cannot put into words. It’s all visceral — just hit play.