Written by

Chris Gonzales


Gabriel Gurrola

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Normally we would post a collection of interesting and entertaining links for you to read. This week, I — Chris, your friendly neighborhood Linkage editor — have decided to share a bunch of my favorite live music performance YouTube videos.

Over the years, I’ve sort of “collected” a lot of these videos into a playlist I revisit all the time. For whatever reason, I often find myself getting obsessed with a particular music performance for a while. It could be something about the performance setting, or a singer’s facial tics and/or physical movements, or the way a live version of a song is far better than the album version, or something else entirely. I dunno why, but my mind latches onto these things.

So brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and enjoy the videos below. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Ebrahim — Paris2Dangelo (2013) »

In this video, Ebrahim creates a looping beat live, then sings a mixture of lyrics from “Lady” by D’Angelo, “Paris, Tokyo” by Lupe Fiasco, and “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell. It sounds weird but it totally works.

Here’s another excellent performance by Ebrahim, where he performs an affecting, melancholic version of Frank Ocean’s “Swim Good”:

Amy Winehouse — Teach Me Tonight (Live on Jools Holland, 2005) »

People tend to think of Amy Winehouse as a drugged-out weirdo, and I suppose she was that at the end of her life. As this video proves though, she was truly a beacon of talent before things went sour. The world is missing out on what could’ve been a fantastic career.

Maria Callas — “Habanera” Aria from Carmen (Hamburg, 1962) »

I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: This is hands-down the greatest performance of “Habanera” in the history of opera. She just put so much feeling and charisma into this. My goodness.

Sleeping With Sirens — “Iris” (2012) »

I was introduced to Sleeping With Sirens through their “If You Can’t Hang” music video, then I later discovered their cover above of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. I mainly appreciate this performance for Kellin Quinn’s high-register vocals, which he usually employs for screamo purposes but which work surprisingly well for this song. The guy can really sing.

St. Vincent and Andrew Bird — “What Me Worry” (2009) »

I love so many of the “Take Away Shows” performances captured by La Blogothèque. There’s…

But the performance above with St. Vincent and Andrew bird is kind of the defining one for me. According to the original story, the two artists had never met before this performance, and magic ensued when he began improvising with his violin over her song “What Me Worry”:

That evening, control of the situation had escaped us. The artists did as they pleased, and gave us more than we would have dared to ask for. And we’re so very glad that they did. We had tried to persuade the two of them to perhaps play a song together, and there were vague talks of a Dylan cover. Then, Annie arrived, and Andrew, who was supposed to leave, simply failed to do so. He was sitting at the other end of the piano, his guitar in his hand, improvising along to all of her songs. We were no longer organizing a concert in an unusual setting. We were watching, transfixed, this pure creation, this enchanting duel.

Led Zeppelin — “Kashmir” (1979) »

By all accounts, Led Zeppelin’s 1979 concerts at Knebworth should have been a complete disaster. And apparently, there was definitely some awkwardness going on, with strangely long silences between songs and some tempo weirdness amongst the band. But as far as I’m concerned, this performance of “Kashmir” proves they still had it.

Lake Street Dive — “What I’m Doing Here” (2014) »

Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive is one of the most accomplished vocalists today. She sings incredibly and yet so effortlessly, in the way only someone who has been singing since childhood can do. In this video she nails the song “What I’m Doing Here” in one take, and it’s wonderful.

Paolo Nutini — “I’d Rather Go Blind” (2010) »

When you first look at Paolo Nutini, who hails from Scotland and is part-Italian on his dad’s side, you wouldn’t imagine he could cover Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” with so much soul and passion, but man, he kills it here, tired voice cracks and all. When that drum comes in at 1:46 and drives the whole thing until the end, I get goosebumps.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne (aka Hozier) — “Blood” (2011) »

Before he was known simply as Hozier (you’ve probably heard his song, “Take Me to Church”), Andrew Hozier-Byrne was a small-time blues musician working out of Ireland. This video captured a younger, different version of the famous man than you’d see performing today. I’m fascinated by the change in his vocal style and inflections between then and now.

Two things to note:

  1. A year ago, I added the lyrics in the comments under the video. Check ’em out.
  2. That hilarious stare at 0:51, when he realizes he’s being filmed. Gets me every time.

Lisa Hannigan — “Sea Song” (Live on Jools Holland, 2009) »

There’s nothing I don’t love about this. Her voice and demeanor are enchanting, and the song is great besides.

Blackfoot Gypsies — “Rock It Up” (Audiotree Live, 2015) »

The video starts off with some real old-school-style blues, the band starts grooving, and then you hear the singer’s voice. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, but the guy has a real charisma about him when he sings.

MUTEMATH — “Used To” (2015) »

This is one of those times where the live version completely blows away the album version, mainly because of the drummer’s solid, satisfyingly chunky playing (although the whole band kills it). He’s the definition of “in the pocket” here. Vocals are on point too.

Kendrick Lamar — “i” (Live on SNL, 2014) »

This performance is my current obsession. I watch it nearly every day, often several times in a row. Lamar’s energy throughout here is magnetic, and those last 40 seconds are just unreal.

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If you liked this collection of videos and would like to see similar editions of Quality Linkage in the future, please do let us know on Twitter because there’s plenty more where this came from.