Our favourite live albums

At Colston Hall, we’re all about the brilliance of live music. But right now, we’re missing it a little bit. We’ve been chatting in the (virtual) office and we’ve come up with a list of our favourite live albums that showcase the energy and emotion that live music holds.

Scroll down to see our selection and let us know what your favourite is by submitting a suggestion via the form at the bottom.

20. Beyonce – Homecoming: The Live Album

The power of Beyoncé’s music get’s an injection of adrenalin in her live shows. This recording of her 2019 set at Coachella doesn’t hold back.

19. DJ Shadow – Live In Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen Tour

2017 saw DJ Shadow’s most ambitious worldwide tour. This sold out performance recorded at Manchester’s Albert Hall features classics and more obscure cuts from his discography.

18. Evanescence – Synthesis Live

“When I saw this concert I cried because of how amazing Amy Lee is (sad I know).” Rhian in our office is a bit of an Evanescence fan! And we agree that this concert with full live orchestra is pretty special.

17. The Roots – The Roots Come Alive

Known for their jazz infused hip hop, The Roots’ studio albums already emulate the freedom of live performance. These recordings collected across their 1999 tour take this to the next level.

16. Belle & Sebastian- If You’re Feeling Sinister: Live At The Barbican

The album ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ made this Scottish group one of the biggest cult bands of the 90s and for many it’s the band’s career high. A decade after it’s release B&S perform this indie classic live at Barbican, London.

15. Daft Punk – Alive 2007

“The sensual explosion that was Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show is difficult to overstate” (Pitchfork, 2007). A flawlessly sequenced and paced greatest hits live set from French electro international superstars. Find yourself the biggest speakers you can and get this one pumping.

14. Snarky Puppy – We Like It Here

Multi-Grammy winning jazz-funk fusion super ensemble Snarky Puppy have become famous for their live album recordings with small audiences. ‘We Like It Here’ captures the band at the peak of their creativity as they blast through 60 mins of astonishing genre bending music recorded in the artistic compound of a recording studio called Kytopia in Utrecht, Netherlands.

13. Bobby Womack – The Womack Live

An undoubtable music genius, Womack played a mean guitar and the raw soulful voice to match. Performing some of his classics live in Hollywood in ’68 this live show captures the energy an excitement of the sensational musicians and audience alike.

12. Roni Size – Live at Colston Hall

A Bristol legend. Back in September 2009 the DnB producer was joined by William Goodchild as part of our foyer opening parties. He later released the recording of the performance as a live album in 2015 – over 10 years later this is still one of our favourite memories of Colston Hall history. How could we not include it!?

11. BB King – Live in Cook County Jail

Recorded in 1970 in one of the U.S.A’s largest jail systems located in Chicargo, at a time where the institution was called ‘the world’s worst jail’, BB King performed his iconic soul-wrenching music to an audience who arguably had the blues the most.

10. Portishead – Roseland NYC Live

With soaring orchestral arrangements from the New York Philharmonic orchestra mixed with the Smith, Barrow and Utley’s atmospheric soundscapes, Beth Gibbons’ voice shimmers with beauty and gives you goosebumps as they performed at the Roseland Ballroom in 1998.

9. Tame Impala – Live Versions

A collection of 9 live cuts from the Australian psych rock band performed at Riviera Theatre in Chicago in 2013. Notably different from the highly produced studio albums masterminded by Kevin Parker, these live takes give a glimpse into the jam sessions where their music originates.

8. Fela Ransome-Kuti And Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker

The pioneer of Afrobeat Fela Kuti is joined here by two legendary drummers, Tony Allen and Ginger Baker for 45 mins of absolutely first-rate beat driven music.

7. The Who – Live at Leeds

This album is what live albums are about; a band who “were road-hardened and sick of playing ‘Tommy'” (LouderSound) wanted to bring their music back to basics. This is 90 mins of pure live rock of the highest calibre.

6. Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles

Mitchell’s 1974 performance in Los Angeles is filled with a collection of her greatest songs that “knock me out with the seriousness of their romantic vision” (Rolling Stone, 1975). Sit back, shut your eyes, and transport yourself to the sunny coast of California.

5. Nirvana – Live in New York

Not just a great live album, this could be our favourite Nirvana album full stop. Recorded live on MTV Unplugged in 1993.

4. The Band – The Last Waltz

In their farewell concert in 1976 at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco The Band were joined by more than a dozen special guests including Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, Neil Young and their previous employers Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan. Filmed by Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary and a triple-LP soundtrack this has to be one of the greatest concert films ever made.

3. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense

Filmed and recorded over the course of four nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre in 1983 this is Talking Heads in their prime. Man we wish we were at this gig!

2. Aretha Franklin – live at Fillmore West 1971

From the opening notes of high paced ‘Respect’ to covering the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Stephen Stills this show-stopping performance in San Francisco shows Franklin as one of the all-time great performers.

1. Bill Withers – Live at Carnegie Hall

Last month the sad news reached us that one of the greatest song writers and soul singers Bill Withers died. This recording of him performing live at Carnegie Hall in 1972 shows his unquestionable talent to effortlessly blend soul, R&B, blues and funk into a beautiful stream of feel-good, heartwarming music.

Welcome to
Bristol Beacon

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

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