Studio or Live?

Discussion in 'General Audio' started by PaulJ, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. PaulJ

    PaulJ AGC Regular

    38
    Oct 3, 2016
    My view is that music is intended to be listened to "live". Therefore, I tend to judge a band / singer's ability to reproduce faithfully their catalogue "live", taking into account stylistic variations / interpretations. (I'll include "live" performance recordings as "live" music although I know that some artists have improved / overdubbed their live output to some extent.)

    I've been very lucky to be able to attend hundreds of gigs down the years and the vast majority have been very good, some exceptional with only a few being truly disappointing.

    Right up at the top of the tree, for me, are Led Zep, early Sabbath, Yes and Rush as I've never been disappointed with either their live musical reproduction or their energy / audience interaction. I walked out of a Meatloaf gig.

    Where do you stand on live -v- studio? Who've you seen that were inspirational and who drove you to distraction?
     
  2. Richard

    Richard AGC Rookie

    13
    Sep 15, 2016
    To my mind a 'proper' band should be able to play live, but not sure that exact reproduction of studio recordings live on stage is a desirable aim. That seems a little sterile to me as I'm a rock fan and I think rock should be a bit rough around the edges.

    Led Zeppelin had good nights and bad nights I believe. If you're going to go on unplanned musical excursions in the course of a live set it's not always going to work out well, but that's what made their performances exciting when they did pull off the high wire act. I've seen Rush play many times and for me the best parts are generally towards the end of the concert when they let themselves go and rock out a bit.

    I think the best live recordings combine strong musicianship with a bit of chaos. The Who's Live at Leeds is often held up as the epitome of a live rock album and I wouldn't disagree with that. With Keith Moon on drums it was never going to be a routine reproduction of their studio recordings.

    The sound quality of Live at Leeds is terrific too - loud and lively as a hard rock band should be. I'm hugely fond of the first Rush live album for the same reason. All The Worlds A Stage may not be as technically adept as their subsequent live albums nor contain some of the stronger material which was to follow, but my god it sounds good.

    -R
     
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  3. PaulJ

    PaulJ AGC Regular

    38
    Oct 3, 2016
    Yes indeed - it's impossible (and undesirable) to be identical to the studio recording or why bother going to a live gig? As you know, what I was alluding to was the ability to be credible and not let the paying public down by being inept when compared to the studio recordings.

    Deep Purple (with Blackmore on guitar) were brilliant but erratic - especially when he threw a strop for no apparent reason. he seldom played the same solo identically from one show to the next. Steve Morse is as gifted, technically (IMO), but is much more consistent in how he approaches the songs.

    Rush, from latest reports, are no longer touring. Whether they'll release a final studio album, I don't know, but that was the band that, for my taste, set the standard for live performance. They could let rip and improvise or they could be as tight as a drum and play metronomic perfection.

    I saw Alter Bridge last Thursday and they were excellent and very engaging. I must get to more live stuff in 2017.....
     
  4. Richard

    Richard AGC Rookie

    13
    Sep 15, 2016
    Another thought - sometimes live performances are better than the studio originals because the band have got better at playing the songs over time and improved their composition in some cases. I watched an interview with Keith Richards the other day and he was explaining that some of the early Stones records were written and recorded in a couple of days. I think he said that a song might be written on a Tuesday and recorded on a Friday. So at the time the "definite" version of a famous song was laid down for posterity, the band barely knew it. Keef went on to say that when he finds extra little touches to play live on certain songs he regrets that they didn't occur to him back in the studio.

    -R
     
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  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    152
    Aug 27, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm quite sure that I'm in the minority, but I prefer albums to live music. I think a finished album is what the artists envisions...without any limitations. And everything can be as perfect as they want it to be.

    I'm not sure there is any similar comparison in other forms of the arts. I would prefer to read a finished book than a rough draft. The difference is more than that, though. It's also the way I digest it. I enjoy the solitary aspect of listening to music (even with it is with someone else). I don't like watching a live performance with a bunch of yahoos talking through the performance or singing along.

    I go to very few shows and am almost always left disappointed.
     
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  6. Carbonman

    Carbonman AGC Regular

    84
    Aug 27, 2016
    Vancouver BC
    I generally prefer to listen to recorded music, either from a live performance or a recording assembled piece by piece in the studio. Most live shows have given me a poor view of the performers (Santana, Tina Turner), mediocre to poor acoustics (too many to note) and have often been too loud and distorted (ZZ Top etc.).
    There are exceptions that were worth seeing live; Dr. Hook (hilarious and very entertaining), Pink Floyd (DSOTM & Division Bell), Jeff Beck, George Michael, Amanda Marshall (most powerful female voice I've ever heard), Billy Idol (Devil's Playground tour), Sarah McLachlan, Massive Attack, Afro Celt Sound System & Geoffrey Oryema.
    I can happily sit on my sofa and listen to my choice of well recorded music on a really good sound system. I don't have to deal with crowds of drunks and a long trek home afterwards. I may attend a few more concerts now that I'm in walking distance to the 2 largest venues in Vancouver and can easily walk to the Commodore or Orpheum 8 minutes away and the Queen Elizabeth or Ford theaters another 10 minutes on foot. But the concert prices...
     
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  7. marlof

    marlof AGC Rookie

    21
    Aug 27, 2016
    I like to listen to the music as it ends up on studio albums, and enjoy the energy that comes from a good live performance.
     
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  8. curtisls87

    curtisls87 AGC Rookie

    12
    Oct 10, 2016
    Los Gatos, CA
    This is actually a fairly nuanced discussion. Studio verses live depends on so many different variables.

    I like live performances, but mainly in smaller venues. When you start talking about going to the HP Pavilion, or Shoreline Amphitheater (I live in the San Jose, CA area), the sound is usually poorly mixed for where I end up sitting, and the crowds are more interested in how polluted they can get than in the music itself. Now, in a smaller venue like the Mountain Winery, or Villa Montalvo, I can see a great show, enjoy a better mix on the sound, and usually not be jostled around by others.

    I agree with Luke with respect to the concept of hearing the artist's vision in a studio recording. This becomes even more apparent when listening to outtakes that accompany many of the reissues of the last decade or so. I also appreciate when a studio dials in the sound quality well because of great engineering - something that is very hard to do in live venues, with a few exceptions.

    One of those exceptions would be classical orchestral music, especially many of the recordings from the "golden era" of classical recordings on the old RCA Shaded Dogs, Mercury Living Presence, London Blueback(British Decca) labels. Via a combination of excellent acoustical venues and recording engineers like Robert and Wilma Fine (and others), these were often recorded "live," and many sound fantastic.

    As to what I do now, it takes something out of the ordinary to get me to a show these days, so I'm very grateful for the quality of many studio recordings (acknowledging that many are very poor in quality), as I can sit down and listen in the comfort of my home, with a cup of jasmine tea, and lose myself in the notes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
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  9. PaulJ

    PaulJ AGC Regular

    38
    Oct 3, 2016
    Some great views and insights and the beauty is that we're all "right" in that it's what works for us. Some venues I've visited have awful acoustics. Wembley Arena has been a consistent disappointment - hardly surprising as it's not a bespoke music venue. The Royal Albert Hall is much, much better acoustically but can be a pain from a viewing perspective.

    I've been to a few classical recitals at St Martin's in the Field church near Trafalgar Square and that responds very well to orchestral and choral work.

    My love of "live" music goes back years to when I first started going to concerts in the early 70's. I was probably lucky that most of the bands I liked could really play and that the venues were reasonably small theatres (up to 2,500 capacity) and were often former cinemas and theatres - so not too difficult to create an acceptable sound quality. I also like seeing the bands in person - to see what they are "like" and how they interact with the audience.

    Tonight I'm intending to have a play with a couple of quite old Deutche Gramafon recordings of Beethoven symphonies with Karajan holding the stick. Ages since I've played them and the last time I heard them I was at the Halle Orchestra's former home (Free Trade Hall) in Manchester.
     
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  10. rbelyell

    rbelyell AGC Regular

    77
    Aug 30, 2016
    to me its like anything else: horses for courses. i love concert performances, but to say music was 'meant' to be live is like saying photography was meant to be filmed on glass plates. steely dan is a perfect example, i wouldnt pay a penny to see them in person, but their studio work are polished diamonds. same with the beatles. the grateful dead would be kinda the reverse, you just cant replicate the live experience, that 'certain something' on disc.

    the ability to do both--put out great studio work and a fantastic live show--now imo that shows some separation from the typical 'either or' crowd of musicians. all my opinion, yvm may rightly v.
     
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  11. curtisls87

    curtisls87 AGC Rookie

    12
    Oct 10, 2016
    Los Gatos, CA
    I'm envious that you've had the opportunity to hear Sir Neville Mariner conducting St Martin's in the Field. I have many of their records (Philips issues, mainly), and he's always had a very beautiful take on the classics. We lost a great one, in him, recently.
     
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  12. Bosse

    Bosse AGC Regular

    63
    Sep 15, 2016
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Since about 10 years I have a seat at a concert series in the Stockholm Concert hall (Blue House Jazz series) so I go to concerts about 3 to 4 times a season (Spring/Autumn), the music might have been recorded and available on CD but since I usually haven't heard it before, my experience in the concert hall sets my bias and even if I listen to the record later it is hard for me to not think of the concert hall.

    For other concerts I always try to catch Pat Metheny when he is in Stockholm and I have never been disappointed, there might be improvised parts (but I doubt it) that are different from the records, but I am usually enjoying the music so much that I just go with the flow. :)

    /Bosse
     
  13. PaulJ

    PaulJ AGC Regular

    38
    Oct 3, 2016
    Agreed (certainly these days) but prior to the ability to record and playback, music was only ever a "live" medium. Totally agree that the ability to write, record and play at the highest level is a good measure of creative talent.
     
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  14. PaulJ

    PaulJ AGC Regular

    38
    Oct 3, 2016
    If I'm honest, I couldn't say for certain it was Sir Neville Marriner - I was given some tickets by a friend at the last minute and just went. I also didn't know that he'd died recently. Great shame as I have a box set of Mozart music played by The Academy and he's the conductor. I played it recently and, if I never listened to another piece of classical music, I'd be happy with that set....
     
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  15. curtisls87

    curtisls87 AGC Rookie

    12
    Oct 10, 2016
    Los Gatos, CA
    This thread has me thinking about going to hear the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas. When San Jose had its own symphony under Leonid Grin, my wife and I had season tickets for several years, and it was always a wonderful experience. Now, having mentioned wanting to have seen Mariner, I realized that I have a world-class conductor in MTT 50 miles north of here, and I've yet to see him. So I went to their site, and of course this time of the year, most of what they're doing is Holiday music. That said, they're doing a performance of Mahler's 8th this Spring, and MTT is renowned for his Mahler recordings, so I think the wife and I, and possibly some friends will have to go!