Stream live music for free: Virtual gigs & classic shows from Elton John, Little Mix, Oasis & more
While lockdown is easing, sadly most live music events will be cancelled until at least Saturday 15 August, and with strict measures needed to reopen safely, even then many venues may not be able to for some time. But thanks to the wonders of technology, the music needn't stop...
With musicians unable to tour, many have been using the internet to get live music to their fans for free. Be it streaming spontaneous shows and regular virtual gigs or making live footage of previous performances available, musicians are finding new ways to help us enjoy music together while we're socially distanced. If there's anything you've been enjoying that I've missed, let me know in the comments below or via the MSE Forum.
How do I find out if my favourite musician is streaming a live show?
Given the nature of streaming live music – you don't have to buy tickets in advance, the performer doesn't have to book a venue etc – performances can be last-minute or not widely advertised, so it's not always easy to catch them unless they're a regular thing.
By far the best way to make sure you don't miss out on a virtual gig by your favourite artist or band is to follow them on social media and video websites. Follow them on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and remember that they might favour one platform over another, especially if they're a smaller act without someone to manage multiple accounts for them, so keep an eye out. I'll also look to keep the list below updated.
The list below is faaaaar from complete, but I'll look to add to it over the coming weeks. Hopefully it'll give you an idea of what artists and bands are up to online under lockdown and, if you're missing live music like me, help you to get your fix. If you've been enjoying a regular series or you're looking forward to an upcoming gig I've not covered here, please let me know in the comments below or in the MSE Forum.
Bear in mind that not all live or previous performances are recorded or posted in the UK, hence why some may appear in the middle of the night rather than at a more sociable hour.
New. Little Mix – live. 8pm, Friday 21 August, YouTube
Following on from the one-off live performance from Take That it put on in May (which is sadly no longer available to watch), price comparison website Compare The Market will be live streaming a free show from one of the UK's biggest groups, Little Mix, after they had to cancel their tour due to the pandemic. You'll be able to catch Jade, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Perrie at 8pm on Friday 21 August on Compare The Market's YouTube channel.
Judge Jules – live. 9pm Saturdays, Facebook, Twitch and YouTube
Dance music institution Judge Jules has been playing sets live from the DJ booth in his living room on Saturday nights since the start of April. The former Radio 1 DJ gives good value for money (not that he's charging), often spinning '90s rave anthems, club classics, Ibiza tunes and more for up to an hour and a half. He doesn't limit himself to one platform either, with live streams often appearing on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, where you can also catch up on his previous sets.
Virtual Piano Bar – live. 3pm Fridays, Facebook and YouTube
Friend of Martin and professional piano player Bryan Edery live-streams his 'piano bar', in support of sight loss charity SeeAbility, on Facebook and YouTube every Friday afternoon. The one-time provider of musical accompaniment to the MSE Christmas quiz covers a wide range of pop, including Abba, Calvin Harris, Lionel Richie and Queen, as well as jazz standards and songs from movies and musicals. And if you're lucky he might also play your requests...
Various artists, eg, Brian Wilson, Joan Jett – live. 8pm, three times a week, Instagram
With musicians unable to tour as the pandemic took hold, American magazine Rolling Stone launched a series of live online mini-gigs in mid-March called 'In My Room'. Over the last few months it has featured performances from legit big guns such as Brian Wilson, Joan Jett and Sting, as well as newer acts such as Haim, Hinds and Charlie Puth. Shows are broadcast live via the Rolling Stone Instagram, and you can catch up on past performances there and on YouTube.
The brainchild of The Charlatans' lead singer Tim Burgess, Tim's Twitter Listening Party is pretty much what it says it is. Instead of watching an artist or band perform live, you start listening to the selected album at the set time, and everyone taking part shares insights and memories, asks questions and so on. You can see the schedule on the Tim's Twitter Listening Party website – albums coming up include some by Pixies, Cate Le Bon and Madness. Here's how the man himself explains it:
For some of the albums, one of the artists involved will join in to provide commentary on what it was like making it. So far, these include former Oasis guitarist Bonehead for Definitely Maybe, Peter Doherty and the rest of The Libertines for Up The Bracket and The Streets main man Mike Skinner for Original Pirate Material – handily you can replay all past parties on Tim's website.
Neil Young – live. Monthly-ish, Neil Young Archives
Neil Young's Fireside Sessions, where the rock legend plays a 30-minute selection of songs from his vast back catalogue acoustically, are filmed by his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, and take place in a variety of picturesque settings in and around their Colorado home. The last one was five weeks ago, a month and a half after the one before, so it's anyone's guess when the next will be. But the good news is you can enjoy the previous sessions at your leisure on the Neil Young Archives website.
James Blake – live. Monthly-ish, Instagram
Electronic musician James Blake, who has also produced for the likes of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, has been sporadically streaming live shows comprising his own material and covers from his piano at home during lockdown, as well as performing one-off shows and Q&A sessions. He's not been performing to any sort of schedule, so keep an eye on his Instagram account for anything coming up, and you can catch his previous performances on his IGTV channel.
Previous live shows you can catch up on
The Rocketman launched his Classic Concert Series last month, where he premieres full versions of his "most monumental" performances from the past online every Saturday at 5pm for six weeks. Currently available to watch is his Madison Square Garden, New York show from 2000, featuring Mary J Blige, Kiki Dee, Billy Joel and more. The performances are free to watch on Elton's YouTube channel, though he asks fans to donate to the Elton John AIDS Foundation's Covid-19 Emergency Fund if they're able to.
The Athens, Georgia jangle poppers will premiere their 1999 performance on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury online for 72 hours only at 8pm on Thursday 6 August, which includes renditions of REM classics such as Man on the Moon, Everybody Hurts and It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). You can catch Michael Stipe and co for free on REM's YouTube channel.
One for mega-fans of the Kings of Manchester Lark this. Oasis e-fanzine OasisArchive has made rare archive footage of Oasis, including an infamous 1994 gig at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, available to stream and download for free, though it asks those who do to donate to the Music Venue Trust's Save Our Venues campaign if they can to help save grassroots venues at risk of closing permanently due to the pandemic.
Like Radiohead and Metallica, Foo Fighters began adding footage of classic live shows from the archives to their YouTube channel for fans to enjoy during lockdown. Yet Dave Grohl and friends must have forgotten their password, as they've only posted three shows, and the last of those was added back in May. That said, there is still over five hours of live Foos to enjoy – at Hyde Park, London in June 2006; Pantages Theater, Los Angeles in August 2006; and Wembley Stadium, London in June 2008.
The mega-selling group did a socially distanced live set from their hometown of Los Angeles in May. Will.i.am, Taboo, Apl.de.ap and J Rey Soul played for two hours, during which they spoke to fans ('Peabodies', apparently) from around the world as well as performing the likes of Where Is The Love? and Let's Get It Started. You can watch the whole thing back on Black Eyed Peas' YouTube channel.
Major Lazer, Facebook and YouTube
Eclectic dance music collective Major Lazer began a live-streaming series known as A Very Lazer Sunday in March, where DJs Diplo, Walshy Fire and Ape Drums, as well as a supporting cast, looked to recreate their energetic live shows remotely. The series seems to have come to a close in May, but you can catch up on nine of the 10 instalments (the seventh seems to have gone walkies) across Facebook and YouTube.
The alternative rock giants from Oxford pillaged the archives to post a classic live show on their YouTube channel each week from April to July. They posted 13 gigs in total, all of which are still available to watch, including Astoria, London in May 1994; Live From A Tent, Dublin in October 2000; Coachella, California in April 2012; Summer Sonic, Japan in August 2016; and São Paulo, Brazil in April 2018.
American heavy metal godfathers Metallica are doing similar to Radiohead and posting one of their favourite live performances on YouTube each week. There are 19 shows currently available to watch, including Chicago in August 1983; Muskegon, Michigan in November 1991; Salt Lake City, Utah in January 1997; Copenhagen in July 2009; and Slane Castle, Ireland in June 2019.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Instagram
When lockdown began, Murder On The Dancefloor singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor began live-streaming her Kitchen Disco, where she performs a number of covers as well as her own songs in her kitchen every Friday. They're a family affair, with her husband Richard doing the filming and the couple's young sons often getting involved. While the Kitchen Disco sadly ended in May, you can catch all the previous discos on Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Instagram.
Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody did live gigs on Snow Patrol's Instagram every week from March until May. He performed covers suggested by fans as well as Snow Patrol songs for 1-2 hours. He chose to take a break during the Black Lives Matter protests in the US (where he lives) and beyond as he didn't feel it was appropriate to play, and doesn't seem to have started again since, but you can catch previous gigs on the Snow Patrol IGTV channel.
Danny Jones of McFly, Instagram
Danny Jones, singer and guitarist with pop rockers McFly played acoustic gigs from his kitchen on Tuesdays in April and May, comprised of songs chosen by fans. '#Chooseday' – see what he did there? – usually saw him perform for 30-50 minutes, covering the likes of Bob Dylan, Coldplay and The Weeknd, as well as playing McFly songs. Danny hasn't done a new show since Tuesday 26 May, but you can catch previous gigs in full as well as individual songs on Instagram.
Gary Barlow, Facebook
'The Crooner Sessions' saw Take That's Gary Barlow perform duets with other musicians as well as actors, comedians, dancers and even fans on a weekly basis from the start of lockdown until last month. He teamed up with the likes of Craig David, Kelsey Grammer, Nicole Scherzinger, Jason Manford and many more – you can catch up on those performances, and a new song he wrote especially for lockdown, on Gary's Facebook page.
Jarvis Cocker's Domestic Disco, where the former Pulp frontman DJ'ed live from his home via Instagram each weekend, came to an end in May. Sadly only one of the sets seems to have been made available to catch up on, though there is a massive eight-hour playlist of many of the tracks he played which you can listen to for free on Spotify.
The current series of Jarvis Cocker's Bedtime Stories, where he reads an extract from a book of his choice, usually lasting about 20 minutes, in his soothing Sheffield accent to help you drift off, came to an end in June, but you can listen to previous episodes on Jarvis's Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.
Don't worry, we haven't formed a band. Following Martin's appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sunday 7 June (which you can still listen to on BBC Sounds if you missed it), MSE Katie decided to compile the MSE team's desert island discs to give us a boost while we're all working apart from one another. So if you want to know what lockdown sounds like to us (S Club 7, AC/DC and most things in between apparently), here's the MSE Desert Island Discs playlist on Spotify.