5 Essential live albums on Real World Records

The magical atmosphere and energy of a great live performance can only truly be felt by those who experienced it: a unique moment in time that will never recur. However, the 'live album' continues to be a popular format for artists to present their music, appealing to those who were there and want to relive the memories, and also those who wish they had been. On occasion, some of that live magic can translate onto tape and transport the listener right back to that special moment. We've selected five essential live albums from our catalogue that we think do just that, for your listening pleasure.

1. Fatteliku (Live in Athens 1987)

Youssou N’Dour & le Super Étoile de Dakar

16 October 2015

Back in 1987, a 28-year-old Youssou N’Dour, already a major star in his home country of Senegal, joined Peter Gabriel as a special guest on his tour of Europe and America. This live recording is taken from the opening slot at Peter Gabriel’s two-night stop in Athens, Greece. “Athens was special,” says N’Dour now. “I was a big fan of Greece and its ancient monuments so everything felt very atmospheric, and by that point on the tour I’d learned so much from Peter in terms of sound and presentation. All the elements came together.” The performance was recorded onto two-inch tape, and lay dormant in Peter Gabriel’s audio archive until it was rediscovered in 2012. The digital transfer and restoration process yielded a delightful live recording, full of analogue character and warmth, which got the Real World Studios engineers excited. This, combined with it being a spectacular musical performance, meant that Real World just had to release it as a live album in its own right in 2015.

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2. Babeti Soukous

Tabu Ley Seigneur Rochereau and Afrisa International Orchestra

05 June 1989

Recorded on a cold January night in Real World Studios’ Wood Room in front of a live audience, Babeti Soukous captures beautifully the essence of Congolese musical legend Tabu Ley Seigner Rochereau’s live show. Joined by his band, Orchestra Afrisa International, he worked his way through over twenty numbers throughout the course of the evening— barely scraping the surface of his huge catalogue of over 2000 songs. The crowd were there for a party and the atmosphere was electric.

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3. Live at the NCH

The Gloaming

02 March 2018

The Gloaming is a band that very quickly established themselves as a transformative live act on the Irish music scene. Their first ever concert, which took place at the National Concert Hall in Dublin in 2011, preceded any studio recordings. In fact, no one had heard the newly assembled supergroup play a note together. This was the first of 24 sold out shows at the venue to date. Their legendary live performance has been described by many as a deeply moving experience, and they continue to tour their unique take on Irish traditional music internationally in some of the world’s finest concert halls. Live at the NCH is a collection of performances of material from their first two studio albums, stretching it out and roaming in unexpected new directions, incorporating new tunes and rearranging old ones.

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4. Shringar

K. Sridhar and K. Shivakumar

30 October 1989

Initiated into the Carnatic tradition from early childhood, Sridhar and his brother Shivakumar are descendants of twelve generations of musicians. Shivakumar’s instrument is the violin and Sridhar’s is the sarod, and on this album they demonstrate their mastery of India’s Hindustani and Carnatic musical traditions. Shringar captures the brothers’ performances at the WOMAD festivals in Toronto and Bracknell in 1988. It was more than just a duet, it was jugalbandi —one idea speaking through two pairs of hands.

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5. Live 8 at Eden: Africa Calling

Various Artists

26 June 2008

On July 2, 2005, ten concerts took place around the world as part of Live 8 in support of the campaign to Make Poverty History. One of these concerts was Africa Calling, organised by Peter Gabriel and WOMAD. The day featured an exclusive line-up of some of Africa’s finest artists, performing in the spectacular setting of the Eden Project. Included on the bill was Angélique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Tinariwen, Daara J, Geoffrey Oryema, Ayub Ogada and many more. This special compilation was lovingly culled from many hours of recordings, with the prime goal of representing the musical highlights of that historic day.

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By Oran Mullan

Published on Wed, 31 October 18

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A look back on The Wood Room session with producer Phil Ramone and mix engineer Richard Blair.