Discussion

Better live than recorded

There are some artists whose CDs I don't connect with but who blow me away in concert. I've never really enjoyed M. Ward's CDs, but I saw him on Austin City Limits last night and thought he was awesome. As I write this, I'm listening to his last CD, Hold Time, and, while I have a somewhat heightened appreciation for it, I still don't think it's nearly as strong as his live performance. I've long had the same response to Wilco -- their CDs have never done anything for me, but in concert they are awesome. So … are there any performers you feel the same way about -- great in concert but less-than-great on CD? Or vice-versa -- great on CD but not so great in concert?

Darrel Scott is so powerful live and his recordings other than maybe You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive just don't seem to do it for me.

 

Paul Thorn and Chris Smither are also two artists that come to mind but I think their recordings do them justice.

Jason Boland & The Stragglers always come off in a studio,not quite there.But live however they are as tight and complete as a band ever was.Live and Lit at Billy Bob's is probably the best live country album for my money!
Jason and the Scorchers Fantastic Live. 
I would have to agree with you on that one!! "Full House" man it's nothing but greasy blues live
And WOW. Chuck was fantastic. He beat up the sound guy - just like the last time I saw him - but he was red hot. Most of the songs were off Let Freedom Ring and Soap and Water, but he also played "Always a Friend" from his collaboration with Alejandro Escovedo. Now I miss seeing him the week before in Pittsburgh.
Have to agree with you re Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in particular isnt IMHO particularly listenable, but live the songs rock.
This probably isn't what you exactly what you meant, but I really like Patsy Cline's Live at the Cimarron Ballroom album. There's a lot of energy/excitement on there vs studio cuts.
Here's a handful from the last couple years. It's pushing it to include them on this board, but Robert Randolph and the Family Band consistently puts on the best live shows I've seen. I've seen many of the artists listed in this thread, and there's no comparison. Also good are John Hiatt, he always has a great guitar player, whether it's Sonny Landreth or Luther Dickinson. And speaking of great musicians, Lyle Lovett's Large Band is incredible. Such a well-rehearsed, tight, polished band. A great experience. Then there's The Flecktones - seeing Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten (especially Vic) can't be captured on a recording. And for guitar shredding, Mato from Indigenous can't begin to be captured on disk. And Robbie Fulks is a GREAT entertainer, a lot of fun to see, and impressive musically when he's playing with Robbie Gjersoe (sp?). Disappointments were Fred Eaglesmith (to be fair, there were only a handful of people in the crowd) and Todd Snider (stand-offish, not nearly as interested in entertaining as I thought he'd be).
That reminds me - Robert Earl Keen was one of the worst shows I ever saw! It was at the House of Blue in Chicago. I was so eager to see REK, but the band was so loud, and his voice so lost in the rumble that I couldn't understand the words.
Loudon Wainwright III Robert Earl Keen Todd Snider (all okay on record but AMAZING as live performers)
Three hours well invested...Chuck Prophet is super live.. with a band or solo.Enjoy!
These two aren't bad in the studio, but they top my list live-----Bottle Rockets and the gone (for now) but not forgotten NRBQ. Best bar bands I've ever seen
Chuck Prophet ...... brilliant live, brilliant in the studio, brilliant producer!!
Funny you'd mention production. I've been wondering quite a bit about the role of production in terms of why a specific album is compelling or not. In the case of M. Ward, for instance, I *think* that all the same elements (instruments, arrangements) are present in both the album and the live show. And he doesn't have much of a presence live -- he seems shy, withdrawn, even. But the live show really rocked while his albums always seem flat to me. Production is a black art to me -- I don't really understand it. An interesting thread in a ND forum might well be asking those who know some of the fine points of production to educate the rest of us about what to listen to, what makes good production, what makes bad production, etc.
Tim Easton is much better live. Sometimes his production feels too "mannered". The reverse is REM who are not a great live band. The only time I thought they were decent live is when I saw them warm up the English Beat in 1983. As their stages got bigger, they got smaller. Speaking of looking small on stage, I'll never forget how tiny The Counting Crows looked warming up the Rolling Stones. I'm not a fan but I felt bad for them. They didn't fill the space - both musically or presence wise. Also, gotta agree with Jack Powers about Chuck Prophet. I'm traveling three hours to catch him live on Saturday!
One that comes to mind is Gov't Mule with Warren Haynes. I must have seen this band a dozen times in concert, and I love Hayne's guitar work, but have never reallygot into their studio stuff.
I've seen a lot of concerts over the years, and most were very good to great. There's just something about watching musicians live, doing what I can't do, that always interests me. To answer your question, the biggest disparity for me was Jon Langford. Really exciting live, but I've never appreciated any of his CD's.
Ani DiFranco The gourds Fred Eaglesmith As good as their records are, they're all better live.
You make a good point. I can think of several bands over the years whose records did little to 'move' me or to make me want to sing a band's praises - until I had seen them perform live (though decidedly not a Roots band, the J. Geils Band is one such example...I have to say that from an enthusiasm, energy, and effort point of view, they were one of the best acts I've seen live - and I had never bought a CD or LP of theirs prior to attending the show). I suppose that some bands are simply more about the audience-band feedback loop and the actual performance than they are about making music in the studio, and so on-stage, they feel more in their element and the parts come together better than they would in-studio, but yes, the converse is certainly possible. Of course, for me, a very good recording of a live performance is the next best thing to being there, and in my case, 'very good' is a balance between the sound of the performance and its authenticity. I tend to be drawn to 'real-sounding' live recordings and the process (i.e. non multi-track and non-over dubbed) as I appreciate the realism and what the band is doing in the performance - warts and all.
Los Lobos - studio sound is usually just ok, concerts are incredible. Always said if ever a band should put out a live record, this is the band. They finally put out a live record and it has...wildly uneven sound. Go figure. Pat McLaughlin, ok on record, dynamite live. Chuck Prophet does a better job than most capturing live sound and feel on record AND his live shows are killer.
Avett Brothers.
David Olney is good on record, but unbelieveable live.
The Grateful Dead, BB King, Junior Brown, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Some of the best live shows I've seen, but I very rarely listen to their CDs.
Good to know. I've never fallen in love with a Sadies album even though they have a lot of fans. I'll try to catch them live if they ever come my way.
The Sadies..... incredible live. Albums are good but their live shows are in a different league!
My Morning Jacket never connected with me much until I saw them on Austin City Limits and I think Okonokos is their best recording.
Vance Gilbert, Martin Sexton and Hawksley Workman. Brilliant performers all, their records... meh. Hawksley in particular should just drop the whole music thing. Go headfirst into that highly lucrative spoken word market. Do nothing but talk, stream of consciousness style. I'd get behind that in a big way.