Live music to stream online under lockdown: Free virtual gigs or classic performances from Take That, Radiohead, James Blake, Glastonbury and more
While coronavirus lockdown measures are slowly being eased across the UK (for more on that, see our Life-in-Lockdown guide), sadly for music fans it's still likely to be some time until we can congregate in bars, clubs, arenas and fields to see artists and bands perform. But thanks to the wonders of technology, that doesn't mean you can't see them perform live at all...
That's because with musicians unable to tour, many are using the internet to get live music to their fans for free during lockdown. 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.
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. 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.
Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has been doing live gigs on Snow Patrol's Instagram every Thursday since March. He performs covers suggested by fans as well as Snow Patrol songs for one to two hours, and usually starts sometime between 7pm and 9pm. He's chosen to take a break for a couple of weeks as he doesn't feel it's appropriate to play during the Black Lives Matter protests currently going on in the US (where he lives) and beyond, but you can catch up on previous gigs on the Snow Patrol IGTV channel.
New. Danny Jones of McFly – live. 8.30pm Tuesdays, Instagram
Singer and guitarist with pop rockers McFly, Danny Jones has been playing acoustic gigs from his kitchen on Tuesdays under lockdown, which he calls '#Choosday' – see what he did there? He usually performs for between half an hour and 50 minutes, and covers the likes of Bob Dylan, Coldplay and The Weeknd as well as playing McFly songs. Sadly Danny hasn't done a new show for three weeks, but you can catch previous gigs in full as well as individual songs on Instagram.
New. 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...
Gary Barlow – recorded on the day. 5pm, two to three times a week, Facebook
If Take That performing live from their homes last week isn't enough Gary Barlow action for you, then you'll be relieved to learn that 'The Crooner Sessions' see him perform duets with other musicians as well as actors, comedians, dancers and even fans on a weekly basis. He's teamed up with the likes of Craig David, Kelsey Grammer, Nicole Scherzinger, Jason Manford and many more – you can catch up on those performances as well as see new ones on Gary's Facebook page.
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 couple of months it has featured performances from legit big guns such as Brian Wilson, Joan Jett and Sting, as well as newer acts such as James Bay, Haim and Hinds. Shows are broadcast live via the Rolling Stone Instagram, where you can also catch up on past performances.
Sadly Jarvis Cocker's Domestic Disco, where the former Pulp frontman DJ'ed live from his home via Instagram each weekend, came to an end on Saturday 23 May. 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.
If you still want to hear from Jarvis though, and don't mind something a bit different, you can tune in to Jarvis Cocker's Bedtime Stories every Sunday evening. 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. You can listen to the next one, and previous bedtime stories, on Jarvis's Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.
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 Prince, Supergrass and Kate Nash. Here's how the man himself explains it:
For many 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. Weekly/fortnightly/monthly, 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 live-streamed three weeks ago, a month after the one before, so it's anyone's guess when the next will be. But the good news is you can enjoy the first four 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 all his previous performances on his IGTV channel.
Previous live shows you can catch up on
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 a month ago. That said, there is still over five hours of live Foos to enjoy at Hyde Park, London, in June 2006; Pantages Theatre, 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 on Saturday 16 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.
New. 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 sadly seems to have come to a close a month or so back, 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 have been pillaging the archives to post a classic live show on their YouTube channel each week. At the time of writing they've posted 10 gigs, all of which are still available to watch, includeing Astoria, London, in May 1994; Live From A Tent, Dublin, in October 2000; Coachella, California, in April 2012; and Summer Sonic, Japan, in August 2016.
American heavy metal godfathers Metallica are doing similar to Radiohead and posting one of their favourite live performances on YouTube each week. There are 12 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.
The premier British boy band of the 1990s (no, not you 911) put on a free one-off live show on Friday 29 May, which you can still watch on Compare The Market's YouTube channel. As well as Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald, it also included the itinerant Robbie Williams, though sadly the fifth original member Jason Orange, who left the group in 2014, didn't join in.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Instagram
Every Friday since lockdown began, Murder On The Dancefloor singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been live-streaming her Kitchen Disco, where she performs a number of covers as well as her own songs. They're a family affair, with her husband Richard doing the filming and the couple's young sons often getting involved. While last Friday was sadly the last Kitchen Disco, you can catch all 10 previous performances on Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Instagram.
Glastonbury. 2019 performances on BBC iPlayer now, classic performances on BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC iPlayer from Thu 25 Jun-Mon 29 Jun
With Glastonbury 2020 sadly having to be canned due to the pandemic, on the weekend when it would have been taking place the BBC will be showing classic Glastonbury performances such as David Bowie in 2000, Jay-Z in 2008 and Beyoncé in 2011 in full on BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, with over 60 sets to be made available to watch on-demand. For more info, see the Glastonbury Festival website.
Can't wait until then? At the time of writing there are 21 episodes of Live at Glastonbury available for the next 29 days on BBC iPlayer including Foals, Little Simz, Neneh Cherry, Chemical Brothers, Idles and many more performing at last year's Glastonbury.
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 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.
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