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Live concerts that are just like the record

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Famed Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4459

It's just amazing to see how everyone's preferred experiences are so different.

There is a decent sized music venue int he area that gets big acts. The venue was recently redone with theatre type seating etc. Everything is very nice and comfortable....but

I went to see Santana there a year or so ago and it was th most boring concert I have ever been too. Everyone sat there like they were in church or something, it totally ruined it for me.

I'm not a huge Santana fan but I enjoy a lot of his music but this was a snoozefest.

This type of venue would work fine for a symphony or something along those lines but for any rock show no way.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 165

I can see both sides of this. I can remember seeing Triumph back in their heyday, and Rik Emmett's acousitic version of Hold On just blew me away. I love both the studio, full-band version of the song, but I love the acoustic-only version too.

But, when I think about a song like Hotel California and its iconic solo - you can't change that. If you even play the solo differently, the song is completely changed.

So, I can't take sides on this. Both is the right answer for me, depending on the song, the band, and the context. I can love or hate both types of concerts.

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1497

<...>But, when I think about a song like Hotel California and its iconic solo - you can't change that. If you even play the solo differently, the song is completely changed.<...>

I have to agree with you on that one. The recorded solo is stellar, and I heard a live cut by the Eagles that had a different solo, it paled in comparison.

Now if someone else does Hotel California, and did it differently, I wouldn't mind, but if you are either The Eagles or doing a cover of the Eagles version, I'd want to hear the stock solo. IMHO they could change most of their other solos without a complaint from me, but that one is sublime.

Santana's version of Peter Green's solo in "Black Magic Woman" is another one. If I saw Santana do it, I'd want him to play that beautiful solo as close to the record as possible. When we do that song, I try to cop Carlos' solo as close as I can.

There are a few others. What are your favorite candidates for this?

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Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247

Hi :)

I think this one depends not only on the listener, but also on the performer.
For instance, I prefer the Jazz/Blues/Folk approach to live music.
Listen to different versions of Mingus doing, Haitian Fight Song.... Each is practically a different song altogether.
I happen to like that. Sure, the famous recorded version is my favorite, but the others are fantastic in their own right.
And that's what people like in a Jazz band -- The ability to Improvise.

Old Blues players were notorious for not playing the song twice the same. It's not so much that they were improvising
like Jazz players do.... It was more in tradition of a handed down Folk lesson that left the music alive and breathing -- changing with every present moment.

So, I enjoy when I see live music that has changed from the recorded version.
I saw Bob Dylan twice on the same tour. The songs he played were his famous songs, though rearranged and fresh. He challenged us to figure them out before the vocals came in. When I caught him the second time coming back through Indiana (The first time was in Chicago), he had already changed the set list. He played some of the same songs as in Chicago, yet in another arrangement! Too cool 8)
Dylan plays so many live shows, I think he might die from sheer repetition if he didn't figure new ways to deliver them to the audience.

I think energy has a lot to do with it. It can go both ways though.
I have always had a weakness for Power Trios. Take a listen to The James Gang's recorded version of Walk Away.
Then find the live Beat Club version. The recorded version is good. The Live version is Great!
Solo - Not the same. Jimmy Fox comes alive on the drums and really breathes new life into the song. Energy level - Astounding!
Free, All Right Now. Same deal. Granted, these are not examples of entirely new treatments of the song, but they do differ from the recorded versions.... Especially in the guitar solo department.

One band that I like recorded, but absolutely cannot stand live is Cream. Too loud to know what each other are playing. Not improvising, but showing off. No thank you.

Bands with high energy levels that stick pretty close to the recorded stuff can pull it off for me. Bands like Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Or, Janis Joplin with her various backing bands. Both Bruce and Janis pour so much energy into their performance that the band feeds off of it.
Bands like the Eagles, they have no energy in a live performance. Just playing by the numbers.

I think a lot of times, incredible performers are forced to play a different way in the studio. Take a listen to some old Buddy Guy or Freddie King. Very constrained on record. Live -- A whole different story. Amps cranked and showmanship galore! Perhaps Eric Clapton smashed that concept in the studio with The Bluesbreakers when he moved his amp back some distance from the mic and cranked it to live gig levels for the recording.

Bands like, The Rolling Stones lay down so many tracks in the studio, then go over them and pick and choose whichever parts sound good and combine them, that when a song is finished on record they may not even know how to play it!

As far as covers go -- When I was in a band, I loathed the idea of playing a song the same way the original artist recorded it. My band on the other hand, they wanted it exactly the same. Why? We weren't a cover band.
Did the Byrds or Hendrix play Dylan the same? Did the Waterboys play Van Morrison and The Beatles the same?
Did Katie Melua play The Cure the same? No. And I enjoy both the originals and the remakes.

To me, it seems very rare that live music is played the same as the record. I think, Pink Floyd has to stick to an almost exact recorded form for what they do. They try to make what you've always seen in your mind listening to them with the headphones on, come alive for you in grand fashion. And they do a pretty good job. Though I have to wonder: When Syd fronted the band, it was very much an improvised thing live.... Hmmmm


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begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles

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