It’ll Be Alright On The Night: Artists Who Are Better Live Than On Record

Jake Longhurst

Most artists bring an element of energy or fun to a live show that’s always very welcome, and some of them even change their songs when they play them live to give a little bit of variation. Jake Longhurst shares some bands that he thinks embody the live atmosphere of a gig, and are much better live than recorded from the studio. 

The first artist that comes to mind for me, before anyone else could even be considered, is Skindred. They’ve released some formidable music, which articulates political themes and complex matters as well as simple club tracks through a medium of metal, reggae, punk and EDM.

they provide heaviness with an equal level of bounce and fun

The band are a staple of the British summertime festival, having become regulars at Download festival, performing plenty of times at Reading & Leeds, and making it their duty to tour up and down the UK, injecting some fun into every venue they visit.

The energy with which they perform literally cannot be overstated, they provide heaviness with an equal level of bounce and fun, making a Skindred show one of the most enjoyable experiences in live music. The last time I saw them was at Nottingham’s very own Rock City, and midway through the concert they got a member of the crowd onstage to do the ‘Skindred Sandwich Challenge’, a highly coveted challenge that involves finishing a boxed meal deal sandwich in under 30 seconds. To her credit, the woman was very close to achieving it. This, however, isn’t why Skindred are so good – it is merely an example of the ludicrous thought that goes into making their live act so raucously enjoyable.

Another artist that features high up on this list for me would be Slipknot. Many people who know me may be shocked that I would suggest a band I love quite as much as Slipknot wouldn’t be that good on record, and this is not the case. The band are an incredible studio machine, having released six phenomenal albums, with a seventh well on the way, and the music they’ve put out has been amongst the most influential from any metal group since they released their very first EP.

if you get the opportunity to see Slipknot, grab a hold of it with both hands

However, I was privileged enough to witness their return to the UK in 2019 when they headlined at Download, and to say it was biblical would be an understatement. This is, to date, the best live set I have ever seen.

My dear friend Rishi was there next to me the entire time, and I can say without a shred of doubt that a Slipknot headline performance will blow just about anyone out of the water. Combining nine slightly mental musicians with 110,000 crazed metal fans, a setlist as strong as any headliner has ever created, and the live pedigree that Slipknot have earnt was nothing short of incendiary, not least with all the fire on stage. If you get the opportunity to see Slipknot, grab a hold of it with both hands and do not let go.

My final choice of artist who fits this category is another fun loving band, still in the same musical vein, but overtly more listenable than Slipknot are, and more accessible than Skindred too. This band is DragonForce, and I can’t remember a single evening I’ve had more fun than when myself and seven close friends visited the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, London, to watch them on their Extreme Power Metal tour.

The album they were touring was actually pretty good, with some of the most brilliantly weird song names I’ve heard in a while, chief among them being Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shred Machine, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable album.

[we] managed to start a barn dance-mosh pit

However, when a band can provide a giant metal dragon sculpture behind the drumkit, CO2 cannons, 10 foot tall arcade machines for the guitarists to solo on top of, and an interim that involves a guitarist playing a shred version of the Farming Simulator theme tune on a banjo whilst wearing a farmers hat, they will never live up to their live performance on record. My good friend Fergus and I managed to start a barn dance-mosh pit, which thoroughly baffled everyone, but was also hilarious, and the songs the band played were a brilliant mix of new stuff and old classics.

Finishing on one of the greatest power metal songs ever written also helps, and seeing as Through The Fire And Flames also contains what I would deem to be the most mental guitar solo to date, it’s a pretty strong choice. I mean, the guitarists managed to make the Pacman noise midway through a two minute long solo, that leads into a finale with enough pomp and grandeur to make any monarchy jealous.

If you’re looking for a fun night out at a gig and these guys are an option, you need not look any further. You’ve found your band.

Jake Longhurst

Featured image courtesy of [sjugge] via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @slipknot via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.

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