Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

end of culture

10 Great Full-Length Concerts Available on YouTube

Who needs new music? In this week’s issue of the magazine, our critics show us what’s in their personal collections of old culture, much of it you might’ve missed. All of it is available online, somewhere. Herewith, Jody Rosen’s list of the ten great full-length concerts watchable on YouTube.

1. Tom Jones in Edmonton, 1975
If you haven’t seen Tom Jones sing and dance in tight bell-bottom trousers backed by a full symphony orchestra—you can’t possibly understand Tom Jones. Or singing, or dancing. Or bell-bottoms.

2. Charles Mingus in Sweden, 1964
The great bassist, composer, and bandleader, at the height of his powers, with one of the best groups—Eric Dolphy! Clifford Jordan! Jaki Byard!—that ever backed him. The video quality is great and, better yet, so’s the sound. Listen to the great big oak-tree tone of Mingus’s bass!

3. James Brown in Boston, 1968
A historic concert, filmed at Boston Garden on April 5, 1968, the night after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The show was broadcast live on local television in the hope that Brown would help calm the city.

4. Aretha Franklin in Amsterdam, 1968
It’s all fabulous, but zero in on the 22:30 mark, when Franklin sits down at the piano to belt out “Dr. Feelgood.” Bonus comedy: Dutch concertgoers clapping on the one and the three.

5. Frank Sinatra in London, 1970
Sure, there’s the usual Ol’ Blue Eyes self-parody: the toupee, the tux, the bluff-goombah banter. (“What the hell’s the next line?” he barks in the middle of “Pennies From Heaven.”) But there’s also some of the best singing you’ll ever hear. Check out Sinatra’s tender rendition of the Beatles’ “Something”; the deep, dark “I Get Along Without You Very Well”; and, especially, the famous out-chorus of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Wow.

6. The Pretenders in Germany, 1981
The Pretenders figured out how to merge punk ’tude with classic pop-rock melody like no one before or since. This concert captures Chrissie Hynde at her fearsome, leonine best.

7. Fishbone in Tokyo, 1992
Prog-rock chops, punk-rock energy, revival-tent fervor, crowd-surfing, nudity—yep, it’s Fishbone, the wildest live band of its generation.

8. The Fania All-Stars in Kinshasa, 1974
This legendary concert featuring the leading lights of Fania, the great salsa record label, was staged in Kinshasa in conjunction with the Muhammad Ali–George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight-title fight. It’s a reminder of the African-ness of salsa’s Afro-Cuban rhythms—and that salsa is homegrown, the creation of musically visionary New York Latinos, as American as apple pie. Don’t miss: the slinky ballad “El Ratón,” sung by the great Cheo Feliciano, with a killer guitar solo by Carlos Santana’s brother Jorge.

9. Run-DMC in New York, 1985
In January 1985, a couple of rappers from Queens had the audacity to crown themselves King of Rock. Six months later, in this concert at the Ritz (now Webster Hall), they backed up the boast.

10. Dolly Parton in Sevier County, Tennessee, 1979
A glorious concert at Parton’s high-school alma mater.

*This article originally appeared in the November 18, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.