Live Baby Live: An A-Z of the Best Live Tracks Around the World

Posted by in Culture, Music

a-ha vallhall and cock robin’s live at grand rex dvd covers

A couple of months back, in the run up to Simple Minds Live in the City of Angels album release, Jim Kerr selected his fave live tracks by other artists. It occurred to me this might be a fun thing to do so here’s my take…

A-HA – MINOR EARTH, MAJOR SKY

On the studio album a polished synth boogie, live a thrashing rock beast served up by a Paul Waaktaar looking like a burnt out viking commander. Best version for me comes from the Vallhall Homecoming DVD

THE BLUE NILE – HEATWAVE

This version to my knowledge has never been commercially released though I wish the BBC would put out the Manchester concert that I once possessed (taped off the radio). A much more flowing version than the album effort which if I haven’t said before sounds a little too stilted.

BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE RANGE – ON THE WESTERN SKYLINE

Another culled from a BBC concert and vastly different to the studio version, the latter minute or so has to be heard! It’s absolutely crazy! *I tried to find it on You Tube but nothing comes close to the version I had.

COCK ROBIN – BORN WITH TEETH

From the Grand Rex show in Paris, wow! As mentioned in Remember That Night it’s a gig I wish I’d seen. Cock Robin are another fave who love to reinvent their catalogue presenting songs in fresh ways. Here Born With Teeth is given a second set (geddit?) via Peter’s long synth line and the Mariachi Horns leading into the first verse.

Anna is particularly on fire on this one commanding the stage with one of her gutsiest – dare I say feisty – performances. Towards the end Corky James chips in (on 4:20) with a nice guitar part. All the more enhance for you to get your teeth into!

COCTEAU TWINS – ORANGE APPLED

I first heard this on a patchy cassette bootleg from of all places Bedford Boys Club! A change of key and this sparkles like the studio version (though gorgeous) doesn’t. 

DAVID SYLVIAN – GHOSTS/WASN’T I JOE

Speaking of artistes who reinvent themselves there is Ghosts, first performed with an acoustic on the Riverside show announcing Japan’s split. This version is one of my faves, however Sylv is no slouch reinterpreting it on the Italian tour with Robert Fripp in ’92 and again on the Everything and Nothing tour.

Further still is the occasional outing of material exclusive to the stage and one of the most stunning of those is Wasn’t I Joe – a near 12 minute master stroke that sadly never made it to release.

DEL AMITRI – ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW

Hilarious version of this from Glasgow’s T in the Park with Justin Currie’s extended appendix of ‘no, no, no, no NO! No, no’ you get the idea (or is it know, know, know, know KNOW!?) Well anyway you can find it on the CD single of Hear and Now.

DEPECHE MODE – STRIPPED

The whole 101 live album is great in that it sounds like a live album. Many bands do it live then take it into a studio and erase the audience – what point? But the dilemma with 101 is what to choose off it. The single Everything Counts is a highlight, so too are album cuts Things You Said, Nothing and just about anything else! BUT… I’ve gone for Stripped performed here like their Highland mix ie with the extended synth motif intro. 

GENESIS – THE CARPET CRAWLERS

From the stately and bombastic to the deft and delicate, with Phil Collins now in command of Planet Genesis and Steve Hackett about to take the last shuttle out, this is a rather poignant performance from Seconds Out.

ICEHOUSE – CROSS THE BORDER

In one of their finest Simple Minds knock offs and from the Melbourne show of 1988, this is the one time that Stephen Morgan gets the nod on the extended bass solo. Later versions take out the bass solo and just go for a full on rock out between Iva and Paul Gildea. The closest I could find with decent sound quality was a monochromatic vid from New York’s Ritz show (no bass solo though). Oh and also check out the song Icehouse from the Homebake show in Australia.

INXS – KISS THE DIRT

I had several live tapes of INXS; one from their 1986 Royal Albert Hall show, one from their Edinburgh show on the KICK tour – co-incidentally a couple of nights before I saw them in Bristol and the final one from SUMMER XS in ’91. Hard to know now which one I am thinking of but Kiss the Dirt stood out. Here’s the version from their Melbourne ‘Royal’ show in ’85.

JANSEN/BARBIERI/KARN – LONG TALES, TALL SHADOWS

One of their finer works given a makeover for live performance with a brilliant extended tail piece. The version on their Playing in a Room With People (along with KARN) is similar with the addition of a pre-famous Steven Wilson on squally guitar and intellectual’s saxophonist of choice Theo Travis. From Lumen and also Playing in a Room with People.

JAPAN – MY NEW CAREER

Tricky one this, while Oil on Canvas remains their only official live release I wasn’t too enamoured with its production. Some things were better on it like Canton and Art of Parties but going back to the Old Grey Whistle Test for this ‘live’ in studio version of My New Career.

JEAN MICHEL JARRE – ARPEGIATOR

I could have chosen Souvenir of China as it’s sad memoir of a time coming to a close which I can now fully identify with (having left the middle kingdom a few years back). However, it is the modern oblique futurist synth of west meets east that I have selected.

In 1982 China was yet to emerge as the super power it has since become. Inviting a western performer even now requires a lot of thought from those in control. Heaven knows how Jarre got the nod but he did and the rest is history. From The Concerts in China and more recently Planet Jarre.

KING CRIMSON – THREE OF A PERFECT PAIR

Adrian Belew leads in, Tony Levin slaps his bass like the arse of a woman he’s into (sorry – I couldn’t resist!) And we’re in. One of the best versions of this in my humble opinion from Sometimes God Smiles compilation on (Robert) Fripp’s own DGM label. Here’s a link to another version from ’84 – but at least it’s authentic. DGM

MR MISTER – HIGHER GROUND

Again never officially released but someone has kindly given us an HQ version from the alternative patchy version online. Chile was in 1988 a rather bizarre place to be holding a western pop (or rock) festival (Vina del Mar – Vineyard of the Sea), and this created all too much pressure for the band who made an ill advised gesture about freedom in the time of Pinochet. Oops, they were lucky to survive and sadly as a band didn’t as a quartet – Steve Farris retiring soon after and the band not long after that. 

THE POLICE – VOICES INSIDE MY HEAD/WHEN THE WORLD IS RUNNING DOWN

I can’t stop playing this masterful version from their 2008 reunion shows, absolutely spellbinding from beginning to end. This one is from Tokyo but the version I’ve been hammering to death is from Buenos Aires available as part of their Certificable set.

SEAL – KILLER

Another one from a BBC Manchester concert, the officially released show from Dublin isn’t as good in my opinion. Though according to the man himself Crazy was best at said Irish show. I should also mention the fine playing of fellow Welshie Ian Thomas banging away on the live kit (I mean for the whole show he is simply amazing!)

SIMPLE MINDS – BIG SLEEP

Very dramatic version – again from Dublin’s Point which appears on Themes box set 4 (also on the Kick it In 12″ and CD singles back in 1989). Also liked the version of East at Easter from Live in the City of Light. They are still re-inventing their songs to this day. Promised You a Miracle and Book of Brilliant Things are especially interesting. One wonders if New Gold Dream will get an upgrade for the new decade; 21, 22, 23, 24! It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it.

TALK TALK – IT’S MY LIFE

From the Montreux jazz festival in Switzerland and another wonderful re-working with an extended middle section. All in fine spirit for what might have been one of their last shows. I am also rather partial to U2’s Bad from Live Aid but we all know that one right?

PLAYLIST AND CREDITS

Thanks also to YOU for reading here. Should anyone be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, please contact me for a FREE Overview PDF. Meanwhile, stay tuned with Kulture Kiosk via The Atlas or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world. Playlist and credits follow…

PLAYLIST
Minor Earth, Major Sky (live from Valhall) – A-ha
Heatwave (live from Manchester) – The Blue Nile
On the Western Skyline – Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Born With Teeth (from Grand Rex) – Cock Robin
Orange Appled – Cocteau Twins
Ghosts (acoustic Riverside) – David Sylvian
Always the Last to Know (T in the Park) – Del Amitri
Stripped (from 101) – Depeche Mode
Carpet Crawlers (from Seconds Out) – Genesis
Cross the Border (from Melbourne 1988) – Icehouse
Kiss the Dirt (from Melbourne 1985) – INXS
Long Tales, Tall Shadows (from Playing in a Room With People) – JBK
My New Career (Old Grey Whistle Test) – Japan
Arpegiator (Concerts in China) – Jean Michel Jarre
Three of a Perfect Pair – King Crimson
Higher Ground (live in Chile) – Mr Mister
Voices/When the World (from Certifiable) – The Police
Killer (first world tour) – Seal
Big Sleep (version 1989) – Simple Minds
It’s My Life (from Montreux jazz fest) – Talk Talk
Bad (Live Aid/Wide Awake in America) – U2

Photo Credits: Images from Amazon and Discogs.