What are your favorite transcendent, gives you the chills, performances?
September 24, 2016 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I want to feel amazed. Please give me your best examples of transcendent performance (musical, sports, film, fictional stories, etc.) that show people performing at the peak of what's possible and even surpassing their conscious selves. Give me the chills! Raise the hair on the back of my head! Some Youtube links would be great. Thanks!
posted by Gosha_Dog to Media & Arts (135 answers total) 269 users marked this as a favorite
This dance performance posted on the blue some time ago is unforgettable.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:00 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

--Everything Beyonce does on her current tour.
--Lambchop live at XX Merge.
posted by leesh at 7:03 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

This balancing act starts out slow and goes to jaw-dropping levels.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:12 PM on September 24, 2016 [19 favorites]

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch. Final scene. Watch her face. Actually, all the scenes.

Birdsong, Grateful Dead. Live version off the noted Radio City acoustic gigs in 1980. On the 'Reckoning' album. The improv break. This is clearly impossible.

Magnolia. Everything.

Dune, Herbert. I don't really understand how a human imagined this.

Carmen, Bizet. Live onstage by a *good* company.

The livestream/blog experience of Felix Baumgartner was transcendent.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:14 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Man On Wire (documentary about Philippe Petit wire-walking between the Twin Towers).

Hans Hotter's performance of Bach's "Ich habe genug", unbelievable agility in a true bass.

Simone Biles wins Olympics gold with floor exercise
posted by praemunire at 7:24 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Before (52 years before) there was Baumgartner there was Kittenger and I like this remix of his jump with Boards of Canada music.
posted by jessamyn at 7:37 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Girls Quartet's barbershop performance linked on the blue does it for me. So much joy.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 7:41 PM on September 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, Under Pressure, just the vocals. (fpp from three years ago.)
posted by rtha at 7:43 PM on September 24, 2016 [15 favorites]

Prince, during Rock and Roll the Hall of Fame inductions 2012?.

Skip to about 3:30 for trancendance. It is the literal version of transcendence. Where did that guitar go.
posted by sanka at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2016 [25 favorites]

And you know what? Lea Salonga performs On My Own, Les Mis.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:48 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Queen. The Show Must Go On.

Reading this wiki as to why the performance is so damn amazing only adds to it.
posted by wwax at 7:50 PM on September 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

Happy Feat by Derek Martin. Some seriously fun hoofing going on...
posted by diode at 8:06 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Secretariat's win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes gives me chills every time I watch it (and I've watched it a lot). I don't know if it will have the same effect for anyone who isn't involved with horses, but it really is one of the most impressive and transcendent athletic performances.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:12 PM on September 24, 2016 [20 favorites]

Kurt Moll and Samuel Ramey in the final scene of Don Giovanni
posted by mogget at 8:21 PM on September 24, 2016

This a cappella version of Wait for It from Hamilton (360 video). Related, this performance of Breathe from In the Heights (terrible video and sound but still transcendant).

I was riveted by Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys this year.

The entirety of Beyonce's Lemonade (the visual album), which I can't link to but you should definitely find a way to watch if you have not already.
posted by lunasol at 8:24 PM on September 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

This ballet performance by Michaela DePrince staggers me.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:30 PM on September 24, 2016

Heidi Joubert and Kiddo Kat jamming on the subway with random passengers
I get chills every time from Joubert's fearless vocal improv.

The XX performing Crystalized by a canal in Amsterdam in 2009
Understated yet chill-inducing acoustic moment on the street.

Reggie Watts One Take
Mixing it up as usual, amazing flow.

Liam Morgan's death defying skateboard ride down a residential street in one take

How is this even possible!?

Shefita's cover of Radiohead's Karma Police
Takes a while to build, then lets loose toward the end with a street jam.
posted by oxisos at 9:14 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love this video of Stevie Nicks signing Wild Heart backstage in the 80s.
posted by ghharr at 9:37 PM on September 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

The spoken word part of Allen Toussaint's Southern Nights live

The virtuosic dancing of the Nicholas Brothers

The Chain live in 1979 by Fleetwood Mac

Neil Young, The Band, and Joni Mitchell in The Last Waltz

Michelle Kwan's Fields of Gold 2002 program at the Olympics

Alan Passard on Netflix's The Chef's Table France

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

All Miyazaki films

Anonymous 4 singing Edi Beo Thu Hevene Quene

All jazz

All gospel

Everything Sam Cooke

Coen Brothers soundtracks

A thousand times yes to Jacqueline du Pre's Elgar
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 9:38 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Clare Torry's jaw-dropping wordless vocal solo in Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky.
posted by EKStickland at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

Kate Bush: Rocket's Tail

"Hey, wish that was me up there--
It's the biggest rocket I could find,
And it's holding the night in its arms
If only for a moment.
I can't see the look in its eyes,
But I'm sure it must be laughing."

But it seemed to me the saddest thing I'd ever seen,
And I thought you were crazy, wishing such a thing.

I saw only a stick on fire,
Alone on its journey
Home to the quickening ground,
With no one there to catch it.
posted by flabdablet at 10:29 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Stupendous and innovative ice dancing routine from Torvill and Dean
posted by MovableBookLady at 10:30 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Phoenix is a feature film that's available on Netflix and Criterion DVD/Blu-ray. I'm sure the exquisite final scene is available as a standalone segment on YouTube, but you need to watch the entire film. If you do that, I am confident you won't be disappointed. It culminates in am OMGOMGOMG triumph of both performance and direction — just one of the most amazing cinematic feats in recent memory.

Sherlock Jr. by Buster Keaton has some of the most amazing/astonishing stunts and physical comedy ever committed to film. You can find it on YouTube, but every version I looked up was missing a least one shot from the centerpiece pool-table sequence (doubtless spliced out of the print by a projectionist looking for a jaw-dropping keepsake).

Drunken Master 2 is one of the best films by a direct descendent of Buster Keaton (artistically speaking), Jackie Chan, with aggressive, unbelievable martial-arts choreography. You may as well start with the final fight scene.

You might appreciate Richard Thompson's guitar stylings. Try "1952 Vincent Black Lightning."

As noted above, this may be a good time to acquaint yourself with Prince in concert. The entire Sign "o" the Times film is incredible, but you may as well start with "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night."
posted by Mothlight at 10:31 PM on September 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

This rendition of Abide With Me by the BBC Orchestra of Wales. It's from the Dr. Who episode "Gridlock."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:32 PM on September 24, 2016

My list skews pretty heavily towards the blues, but there's some other stuff in here.

This live performance by Pink at an award show - Bobby McGee

Etta James, Live in San Francisco - Take It To The Limit

Gary Moore, Live - Still Got the Blues

Stevie Ray Vaughn - Tin Pan Alley.

Pearl Jam - Black

I love pretty much anything Jonny Lang does, especially live, so I'll just post this live performance of Lie To Me.

Karen Carpenter - Superstar

Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone, Grammys, 2005 - Cry, Baby/Piece of My Heart. I like Joss Stone just fine, but once Melissa comes out at about 2:30, there's just no reason for Joss to be there. It was Melissa's first performance after battling cancer, and holy shit, it is the living definition of the word "triumphant".

(All are best listened to through headphones, in the dark.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:51 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

M.'s comment reminded me of this, which is a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir on the day Nelson Mandela died. It is so filled with emotion, so beautiful, and every time I watch it, it reminds me of the amazing power of music to convey and inspire emotion (and then I cry. A lot). Previously
posted by lunasol at 10:53 PM on September 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

I keep coming back to Sufjan Stevens covering The Innocence Mission on a rooftop in Cincinnati - it's a simple, straightforward performance, but paired with the camera slowly drawing back and panning over the city, stark in wintertime, there is something wonderful in it.
posted by btfreek at 11:02 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ah, I knew I'd remember some as soon as I hit post.

Alex Boye becomes a US citizen and sings the national anthem for the first time as a citizen - and takes it to church. So many onions.

In case you've missed this fairly recent one: Disturbed - Sound of Silence

And the Cinncinati Pops with Erich Kunzel conducting are always absolutely brilliant, but especially so when performing marches. If this doesn't make you want to strut around waving a baton, your soul is dead.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:28 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just had to add this heartwrenching Spanish guitar-backed b-side by Björk off Homogenic: So Broken

And this Mat Weddle of Obadiah Parker's cover of Björk's Who Is It
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 11:40 PM on September 24, 2016

Last one, I swear! Marc Broussard - Home. Much like Jonny Lang, you won't believe *that* voice is coming out of *that* face. This one's got a long fuse, and pays off at the end.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:42 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

ESPN - Images of The Century Video Montage
posted by Plug1 at 11:50 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tightrope This is from Austin City Limits. There are two guitar solos in this song, both are mind blowing.
posted by effluvia at 11:53 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

By the end of Pattie LaBelle's 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' all jaws have dropped and joy rains down from the sky.
posted by robself at 1:03 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've always loved this a cappella rendition of In the Air Tonight captured on a Paris subway by a group called Naturally 7.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:17 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

In the Storytelling category: Franny's Last Ride, by Mike Destefano.
posted by she's not there at 1:36 AM on September 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

The staggering vocal control and richness of ornamentation in this song, by Lebanese traditional singer Dunya Yunis.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:39 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Gustavo Dudamel (inspiration for the "Roderigo" character in "Mozart in the Jungle", BTW) conducts the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra and Venezuelan Brass Ensemble in a spectacular version of the West Side Story classic at a 2007 Caracas New Year's Eve Concert.

posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:42 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh my--that Alex Boye National Anthem clip. I started crying before he even started singing! Simply wonderful.
posted by bookmammal at 5:54 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

Music Fantasia Barrino sings Summertime

Cirque du Soleil does trampolines (from La Nouba)

Hand choreography: Daft Hands

Comedy - Wish I could put his whole performance here, but this will do.

posted by Mchelly at 6:05 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also I did an FPP on this one I loved it so much: 5 + 1 Bolero

[also this one. Apparently I have a thing for Bolerii]
posted by Mchelly at 6:08 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

All live performances by Nina Simone.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:27 AM on September 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

There are critics who say that Queen's 1986 gig at Wembley Stadium was the best concert of all time by any band ever. Some links:

Under Pressure
Freddy scat-singing with the audience
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on September 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Tig Notaro, Live, also known as the "Hello, I Have Cancer" set. Just an astounding, raw performance that shows everything that standup comedy-- hell, everything that performance can be.
posted by Etrigan at 6:36 AM on September 25, 2016 [16 favorites]

More Wembley Queen links:

Radio Gaga

Bohemian Rhapsody
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hudson River Plane Landing Animation, with just the audio from the pilot and air traffic controller.

+1 for CGI geese.
posted by Drosera at 6:43 AM on September 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Can't believe I almost forgot: Taylor Mac covering Birdland.
posted by rtha at 6:57 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Woodstock was also not just memorable as a hippie landmark thing, it also had some really good performances.

Jimi Hendrix, the Star Spangled Banner

Sly and the Family Stone, "I Wanna Take You Higher"

The Who, "See Me, Feel Me". Legend has it that do to a quirk of astronomical timing, sunrise happened at the exact moment they were singing this, lending an especially dramatic lighting effect.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Not the best quality video but I love the relentlessness of this fast-paced New Year's performance of Respighi's Pines of Rome/The Appian Way (with countdown clock). A more sedate concert here but it does show the guy just whaling on the bass drum towards the end.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:16 AM on September 25, 2016

Nadia Comaneci perfect routine
posted by forforf at 7:18 AM on September 25, 2016

And Olga Korbut on the Unevens
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:30 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

This version of Jeff Buckley performing "So Real". You'll know when you've gotten to the apex moment.

Also, Jimi Hendrix's version of the national anthem.
posted by koucha at 7:34 AM on September 25, 2016

Rachele Gilmore's Met debut in Les Contes d'Hoffman in 2009. She was filling in for Kathleen Kim, who I saw perform the same part. Gilmore was given three hours notice. Gilmore didn't have to pace herself for multiple performances over the course of weeks so when she sang, she sang on the ragged edge of human performance. She sang the highest note ever performed at the Met. Gilmore described it as an out of body experience.

The standing ovation she received lasted seventeen minutes. Stand up and clap for 17 minutes, I dare you.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2016 [11 favorites]

The extant 30 seconds of last song, at the last concert, ever performed by The Beatles. Paul is on the limit; 'Sopranos' ending.
posted by Coda Tronca at 9:05 AM on September 25, 2016

I don't know anything about sportsball, but Barry Sanders.
posted by moons in june at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Great question. A little vocalese:

- The Pointer Sisters on TopPop: "Cloudburst"

- Anita O'Day from Jazz on a Summer's Day: "Sweet Georgia Brown; Tea for Two"

- King Pleasure: "Moody's Mood for Love"
posted by the sobsister at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

And, apropos of nothing, I love watching this performance by San Fermin of "Sonsick." It takes off into much more than the sum of its parts.
posted by the sobsister at 9:39 AM on September 25, 2016

Stupendous and innovative ice dancing routine from Torvill and Dean

Nice to see a couple figure skating links already.

For me, though, as a former competitive freestyle skater the most moving performance I've ever seen (and the first one that made me regret I hadn't spent those all those years training as an ice dancer instead) is the husband and wife team of Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko performing their free dance at the 1992 Olympics. It's an exquisite performance of love and passion and connection and longing and,well, limerence. It's also meticulously technical and sure-footed while feeling free and open. Also- it's beautiful from every angle and vantage point- I've watched every video I can find of it.

Here's my favorite angle, not the highest quality and with a little commentary at the beginning and end (but not terribly intrusive)

Higher quality and no commentary to break the spell but mostly overhead angles.

Bonus third video of low quality with sparse commentary.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:47 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Three more:

Two stand-up routines that have reduced me to helpless laughter: Tig Notaro and David Cross.

A ballet dancer and a hip-hop dancer perform together.

this is the best thread.
posted by lunasol at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Shirley Bassey singing This Is My Life on Canzonissima, an Italian musical variety show, in the 60s. She owns that song.

Also, St. Paul and the Broken Bones' Tiny Desk Concert was a joy to discover on YouTube. The lead singer has a great voice and is an excellent showman.

One more: Al Green singing "Here I Am" on Soul Train with one arm in a sling has more energy and charisma than most people on the best of days.
posted by sevenofspades at 10:03 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

If Carl Pannuzzo leading Checkerboard can't put the world's most ecstatic grin on the front of your head, there's something wrong with you. Don't visit Melbourne without catching them.

Listen to this one without watching it. Can you can hear Carl knock his snare drum off its stand, pick it up and replace it? Bet you can't do it without looking.
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 AM on September 25, 2016

Chopin as interpreted by Ivan Moravec.
posted by jmfitch at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Merry Clayton - Gimme Shelter

Kelly Clarkson, Natural Woman. The performance starts at 1:20. At 2:34 is where she won the show, even though there were still 8 contestants and several weeks left to go.

I have done nothing today but watch the videos posted here. This is a great post!
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a great thread; I keep revisiting it.

In terms of fiction, you might like a Sports Night scene, Dana's reaction to having one of these very experiences at "The Lion King." Unfortunately, the clip cuts off before the best part:

Dana: Casey. (Casey comes back) It was really quite something. The music began, and I just started to cry. I don't know where that came from. It was like church. I didn't know we could do that. Did you know we could do that?
Casey: Well, when I forget, something usually reminds me.
posted by praemunire at 2:38 PM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Young Italian juggler Selyna Bogino, with five basketballs.

Two guys, three wheels, and one trampoline.

Streetjunk drummer creates rhythm trance.

A Mark Gonzales skate performance in Mönchengladbach.

Bill Shannon dancing beyond expectations.

Guillaume Néry falls down holes, and defies gravity.

Jyoti Raju climbs, like Alex Honnold climbs, and Ashima climbs.

Gary MacASkill rides at home and abroad.

Warsan Shire speaks, Melissa Lozada-Oliva slams, Amber Galloway Gallego slays.
posted by progosk at 2:56 PM on September 25, 2016

Emile Sande singing 'Abide With Me' and Akram Khan's beautiful dance at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Or here for better quality with a BBC voiceover
posted by mgrrl at 3:21 PM on September 25, 2016

Kerri Strug vaulting with a hurt ankle
posted by forforf at 4:02 PM on September 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Although the Secretariat's run in the Belmont Stakes is in its own league, the 1973 Preakness Stakes has a lot of magic as well. In particular, this moment when Secretariat makes his move, and passes those horses almost as if they're standing still. That's just not done, at least not at the Grade 1 Stakes level.

Also, for a different sport, in women's gymnastics, almost everything Simone Biles does is transcendent and just on a whole different level, but to pick one video, I'll present her floor routine in the Rio Olympics All Around final. The power and height of her jumps is just unbelievable.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:06 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another Olympics entry: Meryl Davis and Charlie White's performance that clinched them the gold medal for ice dancing in Sochi.

And for something completely different, I remember many years ago watching Robin William's being interviewed on Inside the Actor's Studio, and I was just so blown away by everything he did. This clip captures one of the part of that. (Content warning: the potential offensiveness of some of his impressions didn't register on me at the time, but there is definitely some stereotyping going on, so don't click on the link if you'd like to avoid it. It's not the worst, especially by comedy standards, but it's there.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:20 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bach's Partita Number 4, played by Alexis Weissenberg. The live recording is spectacular; YouTube has a studio version.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 6:08 PM on September 25, 2016

Aretha Franklin steps in for Pavarotti at the last minute and sings nessun dorma

posted by leafwoman at 6:09 PM on September 25, 2016

Also, Sia's performance on David Letterman way back in 2008.

La'Porsha Renae in a masterful, very emotional performance of Mary J. Blige's No More Drama (from American Idol).

And one more sports one: Nastia Liukin isn't a power gymnast like Simone Biles, but I've re-watched her 2008 gymnastics Beijing floor routine many times. She is very much following in the footsteps of the classic Soviet gymnasts, and there's just something about the way she floats across the floor.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:17 PM on September 25, 2016

Anna Netrebko sings Dvorak's Russalka
posted by Oyéah at 6:51 PM on September 25, 2016

I get the chills from kids with incredible musical talent- it seems almost supernatural. I love this video of 8-year-old Angelina Jordan singing Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang.
posted by deus ex machina at 7:14 PM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

OH MAN and Kanye as an 18 year old on Def Poetry Jam.
posted by deus ex machina at 7:23 PM on September 25, 2016 [10 favorites]

Shun Fujimoto. In the 1976 Olympics, he contributed to the Japanese gold medal in gymnastics, on a broken leg.

On his last performance, on the rings, not only did he complete the routine but he made a solid landing on both feet and remained standing, to record an incredible 9.7, despite dislocating his kneecap and tearing the ligaments in his leg in the process.

He was forced to retire after the Olympics due to this injury.
posted by blob at 7:30 PM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Broadway cast of The Lion King sounds amazing even a capella on an airplane.
posted by deus ex machina at 7:41 PM on September 25, 2016

This is a great thread!

These teenage girls covering a rather dark Neko Case song in flawless harmony give me goosebumps every time.

I also love the harmonies on this Branford Marsalis version of the field holler Berta Berta.

James Booker is amazing in general--check out the documentary Bayou Maharajah if you haven't already--but his version of Please Send Me Someone To Love is especially chill-inducing.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:00 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

* Kurt Cobain singing Where Did You Sleep Last Night
* Essie Davis in The Babadook.
* Ed Norton in Primal Fear
* Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
* Seconding Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys
posted by cnc at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2016

Christian Watford sinks a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Kentucky, then the #1 ranked NCAA men's basketball team.

Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling and with a hat rack.

Michael Jackson performs "Billie Jean" at the Motown 25th Anniversary concert, and introduces a new dance move to the world.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:48 PM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nathan Astle hits the fastest 200 in cricket history (Christchurch, NZ, 2002). Asked afterwards, he said he remembered very little of it. The shots had been instinctive and he had been in "the zone."
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:48 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jennifer Holliday performing "I'm not going" from Dreamgirls. Makes me catch my breath at the end every time.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:01 AM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

The dancer in Flume's Drop The Game music video. Unholy acts done with feet.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:06 AM on September 26, 2016

I’m going to shamelessly pile on to sevensnowflakes' recommendations from the Les Misérables Tenth Anniversary Concert, and link Philip Quast’s superb (and arguably defininitive) rendition of ‘Starswhich I regularly play on repeat several times in a row. Yes, I have a very patient wife.

Queen’s show-stealing 1985 Live Aid performance of ‘Radio Gaga’, which is brimful of exuberance and skill, and an utter masterclass in How To Work A Crowd.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 5:34 AM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Heyr Himna Smiður is a beautiful Icelandic hymn. There are many performances of it, and this is my favourite.

Have you ever seen Yo Yo Ma perform live? You should see Yo Yo Ma perform live.

Speaking of Woodstock, Santana was relatively unknown until their performance of Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock put them on the map.

(I love this thread so much. You guys are so great!)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:02 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mary Margaret O'Hara singing You Will Be Loved Again.

The saddest, warmest, dustiest lullaby ever sung. Such vulnerability and reverence. The way her voice swoops up and down breaks me every time. And that ending? Chills.
posted by the matching mole at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been a huge fan of John Butler's instrumental song "Ocean," particularly in this absolutely rapturous performance here.
posted by a good beginning at 11:01 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

The sandbagging at the beginning of Up is pretty tight.
posted by Pembquist at 11:22 AM on September 26, 2016

I'm back! Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, and especially Radiohead's Exit Music (For a Film). Which is exit music for a film.
posted by mgrrl at 11:51 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Texas Longhorns - USC Trojans 2005 National Championship

Two powerhouses, both undefeated, possibly the greatest college football game ever played.
posted by holmesian at 12:26 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are a few tracks on Swans final (at the time) tour album Swans Are Dead that are completely overwhelming to me.

The Sound
I Am the Sun

Godspeed You! Black Emperor achieves these kinds of Dionysian heights as well. The portion of East Hastings that Danny Boyle used in 28 Days Later is really remarkable, and seeing it in context with the images of the film elevates it even more.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:11 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hamilton- there is a reason tickets are so hard to come by.
posted by slateyness at 1:18 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

From the blue, a couple months back - Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld

posted by taltalim at 1:22 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Prince's performance of Motherless Child is my definition of transcendent.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Honky Tonk Women with Keb Mo, Mermans Mosengo, and the California Feet Warmers. Played in somebody's back yard. Gives me chills and makes me giggle.
posted by bluejayway at 3:27 PM on September 27, 2016

Klaus Nomi-- The Cold Song
posted by oflinkey at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

King Curtis covering A Whiter Shade of Pale

- I'm going for a cup of tea. Do you want one? Do you want a cup of tea, Withnail?

- No.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:04 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and The Mint Juleps sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". Chills and goosebumps even after 20 something years.
posted by Defective_Monk at 2:25 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Stephen Bradbury's gold-medal winning skate at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.
posted by oluckyman at 3:41 PM on September 29, 2016

The Incapacitants performing at the No Music Festival, in London, Ontario in 2004. I had a hard time hearing afterwards but that was a very visceral & joyful experience for me.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:13 PM on September 29, 2016

This is a crappy video, but David Bowie's performance of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" to open the post-9/11 Concert for New York City was sublime. (I can't believe how much I miss David Bowie.)
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:18 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

In sports: Willis Reed of the NY Knicks, seventh game of the NBA Finals vs. the LA Lakers, 1973. Made me a Knicks fan for life, which given the way things have gone since then hasn't been good for much aside from frustration. An epic moment in NYC sports history.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:31 PM on September 29, 2016

Two live performances that I happened to be in the room for are particularly memorable:

Joanna Newsom performing Ys with the Northern Sinfonia in Glasgow (not aware of a recording of this show, so here's a photo of the triumphant Ms Newsom from that show)

Jamala singing 1944 at Eurovision this year - I had the privilege of being able to go into the arena and watch her rehearsals. I'd heard the studio version before, but there was something about the combination of her incredible live vocals, the visuals and her movement on the stage that made me blub, right there in the pack of journos & Eurofans. Can't really hear it without choking up at the big cathartic note now.
posted by norabelle at 10:31 PM on September 29, 2016

Tank Man
posted by Kiwi at 5:18 AM on September 30, 2016

Van Morrison: 'Beside You' (I prefer this version to the Astral Weeks one).
posted by Kiwi at 5:28 AM on September 30, 2016

David Bowie & Arcade Fire 'Wake Up' (2005)
posted by juliplease at 9:12 AM on September 30, 2016

Liza with a Z.

I didn't get the whole Liza Minelli thing until I saw this show where she roars through song after song, non-stop, dance after dance, like some vengeful songstress. Directed by Bob Fosse with music and lyrics by Kander and Ebb. Every component of the production, every artist, performing at the absolute peak of their abilities. Stunning stuff.
posted by ao4047 at 1:02 PM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I second Queen of Spreadable Fats's recommendation of everything Sam Cooke, but I'd narrow it down to his set at the Harlem Square Club, 1963.

From the AllMusic review: "...while [Sam Cooke] was a marvelously smooth, versatile, and urbane singer on his official pop recordings, here he explodes into one of the finest sets of raw secular gospel ever captured on tape. It is essential listening in any version"
posted by isnotchicago at 3:13 PM on September 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nightwish (with Floor Jansen) performing Ghost Love Score is pretty awesome.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:39 PM on October 1, 2016

Fiona Apple - I want you (with Elvis Costello)
posted by Lanark at 8:53 AM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Holy mackerel, that karaoke version of "Bring Him Home" mentioned just above by pseudostrabismus. I'm sitting here in my office eating my lunch crying.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:49 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Jessye Norman's recording of Richard Strauss's "Four Last Songs." Particularly #3, for the crescendo she does about halfway through (starts at about 12:10 in that video clip). (But seriously, listen to the whole thing all the way through.)
posted by dnash at 1:10 PM on October 4, 2016

Dietrich Fischer Dieskau's rendition of Schubert's Der Erlkönig
Hillary Hahn's solo violin rendition of Schubert's Der Erlkönig
posted by nikoniko at 4:03 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm late to the party, but Isaac Hayes' version of "Walk On By" absolutely qualifies, especially the trumpet line that starts around 4:30 and then jumps an octave. Hell, I pulled up the video to link it, then had to listen to the whole thing because it's just that compelling.
posted by Vervain at 6:30 AM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ricky Jay - Card Manipulation
posted by storybored at 9:31 PM on October 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

k.d. lang, "Pullin' Back the Reins." The first time I heard her perform this was live on SNL, and my reaction was that I didn't know that human beings could do that. Other songs:

Jeff Buckley, "Last Goodbye"

Jackie Evancho, "Sombra mai fu."

Jack Nicholson, "You can't handle the truth" from A Few Good Men. He drops his usual shtick, takes all the fury and contempt that he can muster, and focuses it like a gigawatt laser.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm not a big equestrian person but this performance to Let It Go blew my mind.
posted by divabat at 9:59 PM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Einstürzende Neubauten, Ich Warte (lyrics in English)

I see clownschool got the one PJ Harvey performance. She is so inconsistent but when she's on, she is so on it.
posted by halonine at 3:56 PM on October 26, 2016

The show "The Gospel at Colonus" [SLYT] -- original 1985 NYT review is here -- or just listening to the soundtrack always gets me.

Damn, I saw it live at the Guthrie in 1986 and I am still listening to the album regularly.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:48 AM on November 1, 2016

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