Searching for the perfect present for the rocker in your life? Look no further. Check out our round up of five live albums capable of transforming your living room into a summer festival or a major arena event. And they’re all available on coloured vinyl!
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow — Memories In Rock: Live In Germany (UMG)
Format: 3xLP (green)/DVD set
Ritchie Blackmore is synonymous with rock. It’s just a shame the Deep Purple/Rainbow alumnus chose to ignore the fact for the best part of 20 years.
When Rainbow was disbanded in 1997 few could have predicted it would be 2016 before classic rock fans would again be treated to Blackmore doing what he does best.
But a dubious commitment to folk rockers Blackmore’s Night — back again with an EP of festive favourites this month — meant there was no place for blinding riffs and soaring solos for what seemed like an eternity.
And there was more chance of seeing Blackmore dressed in tights and leather boots (and surrounded by fake foliage) than witnessing the ultimate guitar hero wielding his axe like a true rock god.
Then came the comeback shows.
In June 2016 few gigs got rock fans talking more than the return of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
And this Christmas fans can relive the best of two sold-out German concerts across three heavyweight green vinyls.
A previously released DVD is included in the new limited edition set but this is all about the listen rather than the watch.
And Blackmore is in spellbinding form as he rips through a raft of classics.
No surprise there as he shakes off the folk shackles and plays with fire and freedom.
But the star of the show?
Be bold enough to look beyond the main man and there’s no doubting the talent of vocalist Ronnie Romero.
Most recently heard fronting the newly reformed Vandenberg, the Chilean is born to perform anthemic rock.
And there’s more than a hunt of Hughes, Coverdale, Dio and Turner at heart of range that does due justice to some of the biggest songs of the century.
Disc one side one is a sign of the special things to come as Spotlight Kid is sandwiched by bona fide classics Highway Star and Mistreated.
The latter sees Romero hit his stride and by the time he’s blasting through Since You’ve Been Gone it’s clear Blackmore made the right choice as his Rainbow foil.
The duo spark off each other during a delicious rendition of Perfect Strangers and bring fans to the boil during Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll.
But there’s still the double whammy sign off on disc three side two as Blackmore saves the best until last.
Black Night and Smoke On The Water might be two of the most familiar classic rock anthems of all time.
And reinventing two Blackmore standards is far from easy.
But given ample encouragement by the true master, Romero does just that.
This was Blackmore’s night. But the supporting cast played a key role in keeping the memories alive.
Eclipse – Viva La VicTOURia (Frontiers)
Formats: 3xLP (multi-coloured), 2xCD/DVD, DVD, Blu-Ray
Swedish hard rockers Eclipse should have exploded in 2020 on the back of powerful long player Paradigm.
The third in a trio of back-to-back melodic rock masterpieces, a truly remarkable record showcases a band at the peak of it powers.
And yet even Paradigm wasn’t prepared for the live music killer that’s Covid-19.
Shows across Australia, Japan and Europe were cancelled as the global pandemic took hold.
But Eclipse did manage to roll out the first few dates of the Paradigm tour at the back end of 2019.
And Erik Mårtensson and co. made the inspired decision to record the band’s brilliant Gothenburg show in full.
December 21 will mark that standout gig’s first anniversary and this is the chance to relive Eclipse at their emotive and affecting best.
Mårtensson and co-founder Magnus Henriksson have always boasted a rare talent for producing melodic rock that’s as passionate as it is polished.
But it takes a live show and an adrenaline-fuelled performance for that passion to shine through.
Both men pull out all the stops as Christmas comes four days early for a full house at the Trädgårn.
And Viva La VicTOURia offers compelling evidence that Eclipse could — and should — be Sweden’s biggest rock export since Europe.
Killer versions of United, The Downfall Of Eden and When The Winter Ends ensure the dangerous mid-set dip is avoided with ease.
And prophetic finale Never Look Back arrives far too early for those transfixed by the ultimate rock and roll show.
As a timely reminder of the strange times we live in all versions of Viva La VicTOURia feature tracks from April’s live streamed quarantine set.
And although the Stockholm show is a typically slick affair it only serves to confirm that nothing beats the real thing. Roll on 2021.
Mötley Crüe — The End: Live In Los Angeles (UMG)
Format: 2xLP (clear yellow vinyl)/DVD set
What was supposed to be The End didn’t quite turn out that way.
But that’s not to say the Crüe didn’t make the most of their celebrated ‘swansong’ at LA’s Staples Center.
And for the first time fans can relive that glorious finale across four sides of clear yellow vinyl.
It’s a typically lavish package that perfectly sums up Crüe’s mantra of style over substance.
The DVD nestles inside the sleeve and those seeking to enjoy The End in all of its audio visual glory can do just that — in 5.1 surround sound.
But most die-hards will already have the film of their favourite band’s ‘final’ show.
And for collectors this is all about the vinyl.
Each record is wrapped in a sleeve that depicts two members apiece: Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil adorn disc one with Tommy Lee and Mick Mars plastered across disc two.
The up close and personal portrait shots capture the joy and passion underpinning a landmark event.
And as a snapshot in time they reveal the stresses and strains which led to the band’s carefully choreographed but necessary split five years ago.
So what about the music?
Well credit to Crüe that they don’t try to ruin the raw emotion of a special evening with multiple overdubs and a super-clean post-concert mix.
In fact Neil’s occasionally ropey vocals are hardly the best advert for a band that’s due to hit the road again in 2021.
But the charismatic frontman has never been the Andrea Bocelli of rock and roll. In fact he’s never even been the Sebastian Bach of his genre.
But what Crüe’s pocket rocket frontman has always been is a brilliant entertainer who can hold a crowd in the palm of his hand and get by on sheer bravado.
And bravado is writ large across this lavish show with Lee lording it over the masses atop his rollercoaster drum riser and Sixx slaying it from start to finish.
Then there’s Mick Mars.
Where Neil’s vocals are far from perfect, Crüe’s axeman is in superior form as he races through classy renditions of Wild Side, Live Wire and Kickstart My Heart.
This was always a band built on personalities rather than professionalism but Mars and Lee both developed into masters of their respective crafts during three decades at the top of their game.
And the duo’s consistently on-point contribution to The End makes this double disc celebration a genuine treat.
Set closer Home Sweet Home sets the tear-jerking seal on what was, at the time, the last ever Crüe live show.
The band’s decision to get back together just three years later could have taken the shine of a concert that no longer tugged quite as hard on the heartstrings.
But even if this wasn’t The End it was the epitome of Crüe’s appetite for entertainment.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band — Straight To You Live (Mascot Label Group)
Formats: 2xLP (clear red vinyl), CD/DVD, CD/Blu-Ray
Quite remarkably, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has never committed a live show to DVD. Until now.
Twenty five years after debut Ledbetter Heights went platinum in the US, one of the most important figures in 21st century blues rock is treating his flock to the full Shepherd.
And that’s exactly what Straight To You Live is.
Essentially a Greatest Hits set which also leans on 2019’s critically acclaimed The Traveler, this is Shepherd at his evocative and soul-searching best.
But if you want the best of the best then Straight To You Live needs to be heard across double red vinyl.
The DVD element might be the hook — the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band ventured into live territory once before on 2010’s Live In Chicago without releasing a film of the show.
But the best advice we can offer is to turn off the telly, turn down the lights, turn up the volume and let your turntable do the rest.
Such is Shepherd’s rich authenticity and redoubtable musicianship that he’s made for a throwback era long before music was rebooted for living rooms and surround sound systems.
And Straight To You Live is as much an audio, as a visual, treat.
The strength of The Traveler’s highlights shines through as Woman Like You and Long Time Running stand toe to toe with any of Shepherd’s back catalogue classics.
But there’s little doubt that everything here is enhanced tenfold by the addition of a vibrant horn section.
As a seven piece, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band somehow sounds complete.
Horns aplenty bring Leverkusen’s famous Jazzstage venue to life.
And a show staged for iconic German TV show Rockpalast is rich in colourful layers of modern blues.
Of course no KWSB set would be complete without breakout hit Blue On Black.
And that spine-tingling tune from 1997’s Trouble Is… still sounds capable of shaking up the blues scene 23 years down the line.
In fact it’s little surprise that Shepherd’ 2019 collaboration with Five Finger Death Punch, Brian May and Brantley Gilbert saw a new version of Blue On Black top the rock charts for a second time.
Straight To You Live finishes on a steepling high as an 11 minute-plus take on Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) caps an incredible show.
At a time when live music is an increasingly distant memory this is an album capable of filling the void and instilling hope.
Aerosmith — Rocks Donington 2014 (UMG)
Format: 3xLP (purple)/DVD set
Nobody does a festival headline show quite like Aerosmith.
And if the Toxic Twins aren’t burnt out just yet then it’s unlikely they’ll ever reprise this spectacular night in Donington.
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have had their differences.
They’ve had the drug-fuelled disasters.
And some would say they’ve even had their day.
But listen to Boston’s finest across three perfectly formed pieces of coloured vinyl and one thing’s certain: for one night in 2014 they had the time of their lives.
Previously issued as a CD/DVD set, this triple vinyl package is made for long winter nights and holidays by the fireside.
Pour a neat Bourbon, turn down the lights and enjoy one of the greatest bands of all time rocking the UK’s rock heartland to its core.
The energy is instant: Eat The Rich and Love In An Elevator follow hot on the heels of set opener Train Kept A-Rollin’.
And that’s just disc one side one!
Picking a highlight from this carefully curated Greatest Hits set is nigh on impossible.
The party-starting Livin’ On The Edge is a contender.
Global smash I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing manages to soften even the hardest of Download souls.
And Dude (Looks Like A Lady) allows Tyler to camp it up like the good old days.
But does Dream On just about clinch it?
It did for Rushonrock six-and-half years ago as Tyler stripped things down and delivered a flawed but endearing version of a truly wonderful song.
Laying himself bear in front of the masses, Aerosmith’s frontman revels in his fragility and manages to connect with great swathes of the Donington faithful.
It’s a quite incredible performance and listening to Tyler at his best on 180 gram vinyl is a special, special treat.
But what of Perry?
The coolest cat on stage glides through the hits with minimal misses.
And if the chemistry of yesteryear isn’t quite there then Perry is still the perfect wingman for a wired Tyler.
Aerosmith Rocks Donington somehow manages to do justice to what was a classic set in Download history.
Missed it? You missed out. But this is the next best thing.