What are your favorite YouTube performances (by the original band)?
March 22, 2017 9:18 AM   Subscribe

It is a unique joy when I encounter a particularly cool live (usually-but-not-necessarily acoustic) performance of a song that I love on YouTube. A bunch of examples are in the "more inside," but I particularly like tight harmonies, and stripped-down, and clean in a way that makes you hear the song in a new way. I want to fill a playlist with these. What are your favorites? All genres are welcome. (Note: I know there are probably a zillion pretty covers, but I am looking for the original artist playing their own song.)

Some examples are:

* Hall & Oates doing "She's Gone" in 1976
* The Bangles playing "Manic Monday"
* The Barenaked Ladies playing "One Week" in Ed's bathroom
* The Vaccines doing "Teenage Icon"
* Dawes doing a lovely version of "Somewhere Along the Way"
* Hanson killing it on "MmmBop"
posted by AgentRocket to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Not the complete original band, but I've always loved Sting doing this dreamy dreamy version of Message in a Bottle.
posted by JanetLand at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and how could I forget Queen blowing away Crazy Little Thing Called Love on SNL.
posted by JanetLand at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not the full band or even the full song, but Jimmy Page (now a distinguished English Gentleman) demonstrating dynamics while playing the guitar parts to Ramble On is one my favorite things ever.
posted by bondcliff at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2017

As well as this stripped down, acoustic version of Sunday Bloody Sunday with Bono and The Edge. (warning: Bono being Bono)
posted by bondcliff at 9:40 AM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Black Sabbath in Paris 1970 video, is fanfuckingtastic.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:40 AM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was astonished to find WIRE - live at Rockpalast 1979 a few months ago. Quality is uneven, but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing live versions of some of their more peculiar songs.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of this type of thing as well. Not sure if you're only looking for pop (or popular) songs, but I'll throw a few Indie/folk/hip hop songs here anyway:
* Local Natives - Who Knows Who Cares
* The Lone Bellow - Two Sides of Lonely
* Langhorne Slim - The Way We Move
* Deltron 3030 - 3030
* Daughter - Youth
* Oddisee - Lifting Shadows
* Theresa Andersson - Birds Fly Away

Tiny Desk is basically this format.
posted by cnc at 9:54 AM on March 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

Grace Potter - Paris

Wood Brothers - Midnight Rider

The Raconteurs - Old Enough
posted by stinkfoot at 10:25 AM on March 22, 2017

Bob Weir (and Jackie Greene) an hour or so of acoustic Weir/Grateful Dead songs. They play Birdsong, Friend of the Devil, Loser, and China Cat Sunflower --> I Know You Rider. The acoustic sound and just the two voices is a big change from the usual Dead mayhem.

More succinctly, here is Bob Weir in the back of a box truck singing Loser acoustically.
posted by AugustWest at 10:31 AM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some more:

"Weird" Al Yankovic doing "Another One Rides The Bus" with accordion case percussion.
Pete Townshend, Won't Get Fooled.
The Eurythmics, Here Comes The Rain Again
posted by bondcliff at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2017

I've always enjoyed Hum's performance of Stars on 120 Minutes.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The La's - Timeless Melody
The Unthanks - Starless
posted by oh pollo! at 11:04 AM on March 22, 2017

Tedeschi Trucks Band, in a relaxed run-through: Just As Strange (Acoustic).
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:32 AM on March 22, 2017

Macklemore's Tiny Desk Concert is a thing of wonder and magic.
posted by epj at 11:52 AM on March 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

This whole Songwriters Circle set is great, but I particularly like this version of "Gypsy" by Suzanne Vega.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:53 AM on March 22, 2017

Ryan Adams singing his song "Come Pick Me Up" with Janis Ian and Neil Finn as backup. Amazing. Kills me every time.
posted by Merinda at 12:42 PM on March 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

You said "tight harmonies", so here's the Milk Carton Kids doing their song "Michigan" on Austin City Limits. That whole performance is good if you want more of that.

More close vocal harmonies:
Pinegrove, Angelina, This Has Got To Stop Sessions

These other ones I just like a lot:
Joanna Newsom, '81, Jimmy Kimmel Live
PJ Harvey, The Last Living Rose, The Guardian studios
posted by The Minotaur at 12:51 PM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

My time has come at last. Brace yourself!

(in no particular order)
  1. Amy Winehouse - Love is a losing game (original demo) - Quite more melancholic than the "normal" version. I was introduced to Amy Winehouse with this song and boy I love her voice
  2. John Lennon - Love - This is one of my favorite songs and favorite lyrics of all time. Even though I find it inferior to the album release, it's a refreshing version with a very simple guitar and John's voice.
  3. Lady Gaga - The Edge of Glory - One of my favorite combinations: Voice + piano
  4. OK Go - Needing/Getting - This is more "a new/interesting way of performing the song" and less and acoustic version of the song. Still quite impressive IMHO. They also played this song on This American Life, with the audience being somewhat successfully part of the band (link jumps straight into the song, go to the beginning to see Damian explaining how it's done)
  5. Stream of Passion - Nostalgia (live) - I'm partial to Stream of Passion because a) I find Arjen Lucassen's projects to be very interesting, b) because their lead singer is a fellow Mexican with an amazing voice. In the live version, you can hear Marcela Bovio (lead singer) and her sister Diana together
  6. Nelly Furtado - Powerless (Say What You Want) (Special version) - I know little of this song except for what it says on the description on the video: This version of Powerless use to be found on a secret nellyfurtado.com site back in the folklore days.
  7. Extreme - More than words - Stripped down to voices and light percussions. I used this version to learn how to sing the harmonies
  8. Lebo M - One by One - If you're a Disney nut like me, you may have heard "One by One" in either Rhythm of the Pride Lands (hear this version) or the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King (hear this version). The version I'm recommending was planned as a segment of the dropped Fantasia 2006 and featured as an extra on The Lion King 2 DVD. Awesome children and mature voices all around, I sincerely recommend also watching the animation the first time around.
  9. Caro Emerald - That Man (Palov ft. A. Angelidis remix) - You may have noticed a pattern here: I like attractive ladies with dark hair and interesting voices, and Caro Emerald is a true Queen in this aspect. Don't be fooled by the word "remix", though. This version actually strips down some instrumentation in order to further feature her voice. Compare and contrast with the regular version. Bonus: Back it Up (Kraak & Smaak remix)
  10. Ximena Sariñana - Mediocre - Ximena Sariñana might not be well known outside of Latin America (and her, uh, interesting collaboration with Jason Mraz), but she has a interesting voice and style. "Mediocre" was the fifth single of her debut album of the same name. This version is (again) just her voice and piano, which further hits the theme of the song, better than the album version, IMHO. More on this on Wikipedia.
  11. Dub FX - Soothe Your Pain (live) - Beatboxer Dub FX sings and loops live on the street. You can even hear how he misses a loop early in the video.
  12. Scorpions - Still Loving You - For their 2000 album Moment of Glory, Scorpions re-recorded several of their songs with the Berlin Philharmonic. The whole album is worth a listen, but I have to recommend only one song, so this is it.
  13. The Cranberries - Linger - This version is somewhere between the album release and the unplugged version. I recommend this over the unplugged only because it seems to be less popular.
  14. David Gilmour - Shine On You Crazy Diamond - This is a bit of a stretch because it's not exactly the original artist, but it would be wrong not to include Gilmour's great guitar skills to this list
  15. Café Tacvba - Las Flores (unplugged) - I'm throwing another mexican artist to the mix because a) Alt Rock group Café Tacvba is pure awesome and b) this song blends with traditional mexican music. The unplugged version of Las Flores blends into La Huasanga, a traditional son huasteco from Mexico, which features complicated fiddle lines and quick jumps to and from falsetto voice.
  16. Fun - We Are Young ft. Janelle Monáe - Guitar, piano and two voices. This is an improvement of an already great song, IMHO
  17. Steven Tyler/Aerosmith - I don't want to miss a thing - I have no information of this version. If you're willing to forgive a small mistake here and there, this is proof of Tyler's iconic voice and performance.
  18. Shakira - Estoy Aquí - More Latin American artists! As some of you may know, Shakira already had a big career before making the jump to singing in English (and therefore the international market beyond the Hispanophone world). Big enough to have her own MTV Unplugged album. "Estoy Aquí" is not just an acoustic version, but a complete rewrite of the original. Just listen how she holds her note in 3:28 to see how she's way more than a pretty face and a great dancer. If you're interested, you might also like her Mariachi version of Ciega, Sordomuda (original for comparison)

posted by andycyca at 1:13 PM on March 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

(Also, if this ends as a YouTube playlist, could you please share it with the group when you're done? Pretty please?)
posted by andycyca at 1:17 PM on March 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

The entirety of David Bowie's 1973 Hammersmith concert is smashing. Peak form, peak esthetic, PEAK.

I'm partial to Moonage Daydream from it.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:22 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

This swinging performance of Roundabout by Yes is a great example of what you're seeking, IMHO.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:58 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Eagles: Take it to the limit.

There was something about this particular performance that brought it home to me how exposed the performer is, with just one chance to do it right. This particular song caused a problems within the band because of it's demands on the vocal range of the soloist.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:59 PM on March 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, I know the blue is ambivalent towards them, but this off-mic performance of Run to You by Pentatonix was a great moment. (Full disclosure: I was there, so my memory is romanticized.)
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:04 PM on March 22, 2017

So many great songs already listed!

Maggie Rogers - Here's Where The Story Ends (The Sundays cover)

Justin Vernon & Sean Carey - Babys

Bon Iver - Heavenly Father

Aloe Blacc | I Need A Dollar

Alela Diane - Pirate's gospel
posted by ljesse at 3:11 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Folly & the Hunter - Awake
posted by sockpup at 4:15 PM on March 22, 2017

"Excuses" by the Morning Benders, performed with a huge crowd of people in a small room.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:26 PM on March 22, 2017

Beyonce - Halo, Unplugged. I like how the stripped-down instrumentation lets you hear the depth of her alto range in the first verse, and she's so joyful in the last chorus.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2017

TAKE AWAY SHOWS! (Les Concerts à Emporter)

The apotheosis is probably this Arcade Fire performance. "Neon Bible" starts about 2:43, but it's worth watching the whole thing from the beginning to see how the band manages to jam themselves in an elevator ... and I won't spoil where they end up. Plus, as the first comment says, "that guy plays the magazine so emotionally."

Other favorites of mine:

Architecture in Helsinki teaching a group of Parisians "Heart it Races," then singing it in the streets and having some residents join in from their apartments, charmingly reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast

Bon Iver, "For Emma, Forever Ago," featuring a crochety vieillard asking if they know anyone who lives in the building, a friendly dog, and wonderful acoustics

My personal hidden gem introduced me to the band - Menomena, "Wet and Rusting," in which musical appreciation is distilled into its purest expression - exuberant toddler gyrations

Looks like I haven't been keeping up with the channel for the better part of the last decade, glad you asked the question so I can make up for lost time!
posted by Devika at 11:12 PM on March 22, 2017

And now for something completely different ... The Roots upended my opinion of Miley Cyrus by accompanying her on this a cappella version of "We Can't Stop." Tight harmonies, stripped down, cleaned up - it went from being a song that would cause me to reflexively switch radio stations to a dangerous earworm that I can still listen to on repeat. Well, at least this version.
posted by Devika at 11:25 PM on March 22, 2017

So I dug up my almost nonexistant regex skills and bodged together two disposable playlists with all links so far. List one and list two. Full info at http://pastebin.com/mzA18FC5
posted by andycyca at 1:49 AM on March 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My family first heard Da Slockit Light played by a jazz trio here in Connecticut. This is quite a ways, musically, from it's origins in Shetland music. The sheet music I have says "Cape Breton style", and Cape Breton is in Nova Scotia, also a ways from the start. There are many versions on YouTube, but in this video it's played by the composer, Tom Anderson. It begins at 2:45.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2017

If you like tight harmonies and original songs, pretty much anything by the Roches is going to fit, so you can just check youtube for concert footage. Here's their song We. Here's Mr. Sellack. Also, technically, I suppose you'd call their Hallelujah Chorus a cover, but just the fact that they did it seems very original to me.
posted by FencingGal at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2017

Gorgeous harmonies, stripped down: you will love this version of Jon Bellion's All Time Low.
posted by yawper at 11:54 AM on March 23, 2017

Anything from Nirvana's episode of Unplugged. I can't link on my phone, but you can find videos for individual songs as well as the full performance.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2017

Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now, 2000.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:31 PM on March 29, 2017

Dave Rawlings Machine, "Short Haired Woman Blues" (live on KEXP) is simply excellent. The whole set is terrific, but this one is a stunner.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2017

Steve Winwood, doing a nice acoustic version of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home." He's solo, so no harmonies, but this performance made me hear this song after many years of ignoring it; he's in good form here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:23 AM on March 31, 2017

This one's my favorite. Grizzly Bear - All We Ask
posted by black8 at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2017

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