Is there anything better than live recordings?

Other than attending the concerts themselves?

I say NO.




Well, I don't know about all live recordings, but the back-to-back guitar solos on the Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East in Stormy Monday are as good as any guitar solos get, and they were spontaneous.


I have to question anyone who thinks a live concert trumps a studio recording with regards to audio quality. It makes me think they haven't seen as many disappointing/meh live shows as a reference or are very selective about who they see in concert & want to listen to in a live recording. But I wouldn't go so far as to say live recordings trump studio recordings.

Ever listened to a Deadhead's bootleg cassette recording of a particular show? Terrible in every way. But that's my opinion. 

Most of my complaints about some live recordings tend to be poor quality micing for the vocals (they tend to go in and out as the artist moves on stage) and unequal mixing. Now there are some bands that record directly from the live mix and those can be fantastic as it's as much about the energy of the live show and variations to how the band plays certain songs. I've heard some great recordings in the last few decades but those tend to be video concert recordings.  

Conversely, Zepplin's concert film 'The Song Remains the Same' is great at capturing the live show and makes it, to my ears, a better experience.

For example, the live version of Wilco's 'California Stars' I heard in concert far surpassed the Mermaid Ave Lp version but that was because they stretched that into an epic encore version for a packed house in a historic theatre.

Conversely, I saw Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the same theatre and it was one of the worst soundboard-mixed shows and loudest concerts I've seen. The distortion and mix were way beyond BRMC's intentions to the point that it made for unpleasant listening. 

I've also found that the venue plays a big part in how good a live recording can be. The Merriweather Post Pavilion in MD is a terrible place to see a live show - regardless of where you sit, it's just bad. Best outdoor venue? Red Rocks Amphitheater hands down. Club shows? That's hit or miss and very dependent on the in-house set-up.

All that said, I enjoy certain live recordings by my favorite artists but I'm very selective about which ones for the all the reasons I listed above. I have found that I really enjoy watching concerts via youtube when it's a professional production. Because then I get great audio and the energy of the live show. Which is why I go to concerts in the first place. 


Friday Night in San Francisco is among the greatest live recordings ever, and in frequent rotation here. The SQ is excellent but the crowd interaction with 3 of the greatest guitarists on the planet make it even more impactful.

And closely behind is Saturday Night in SF on Impex records as I recall.

@drmuso Live at Leeds is an excellent sounding live recording, with great dynamics and can be played at very high levels.

Live at Hull may be preferred.

Thanks to others for some great tips.

@bipod72 - I don't think they were talking about bootleg recordings. There are hundreds of legitimate Grateful Dead live releases that are among the best sounding live recordings you'll hear. I have every one of the box sets. The Dead made sound quality a priority ever since the days when Owsley Stanley designed their sound systems.