The Best Indie & Alternative Rock Live Albums

This poll makes me feel old but it’s important that the Best Live Albums Blog isn’t entirely stuck in the seventies, so what are the best indie and alternative rock live albums?

I don’t know. I believe that music belongs to a generation. You can go back in time but it’s very difficult to keep moving forward.

Indie and alternative rock emerged from punk/new wave/post-punk in the early 1980s with bands like The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen in the UK and R.E.M. in the United States setting standards.

Since then, any guitar based rock has often been tagged with the indie/alternative rock label unless it clearly belongs to one of the existing labels like hard rock/heavy metal. Bands like The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays also took indie rock into dance music.

Grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam took indie/alternative rock closer to hard rock again. It keeps redefining itself as we move from the 1980s to 1990s to 2000s and 2010s.

From a personal viewpoint, it’s a category I find testing. Originally it wasn’t a problem as it was the music of my 20s and helped keep me sane when most music was dominated by synthesisers. I kept up-to-date in my 30s (the 1990s), by buying albums that performed well in the end of the year reviews. During Britpop, I felt connected because Suede, Oasis and Blur drew inspiration from David Bowie, The Beatles & The Rolling Stones and The KInks. Gradually the music meant less to me and I became more wary of liking the latest sounds. Legendary BBC disc jockey, John Peel could pull off staying modern and leading edge, I didn’t feel I could.

My Top Five Indie & Alternative Rock Live Albums

I try to tell you my favourite five albums in a genre but I’m struggling in this category. That’s partly because of me and partly because some of the most important indie bands aren’t well represented by live albums.

The Smiths are an obvious choice but the only option for an in concert experience is Rank and that doesn’t include all the songs from the concert.It’s a similar story with the Pixies and Vredenburg. They are, however, significantly better than nothing.

The Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub, Pale Fountains and Shack don’t have concert albums. The Oasis live album is poor, Pulp don’t have one stuffed with live versions of tracks from Different Class and His ‘n’ Hers. Suede have only got interested in live albums in the 21st century. R.E.M are proving quite contrary although there have been some interesting concert recordings added as bonuses to their studio albums. The Auteurs have also added a couple of concert recordings to their studio album reissues.

I’m struggling to choose between very good albums when the other genres have a few live albums I think are brilliant.

My provisional top 5 mainly reflect the music of my 20s and are:

  • Echo & The Bunnymen Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1983
  • Pixies Live At Vredenburg 1990
  • The Smiths Rank 1986
  • The Waterboys The Live Adventures Of The Waterboys 1986
  • ?

The Bunnymen recording from 1983 finally appeared in 2008 when it was added into a short-lived deluxe version of Ocean Rain. My head says that’s the right choice but there wasn’t any live album released in the mid 1980s and I’ve grown used to enjoying Live In Liverpool from 2000/1 which had been released in 2002.

I need you to vote and recommend other live albums by alternative and indie bands.

What Are The Best Indie & Alternative Rock Live Albums? Vote In The Poll And See The Results.

What Are The TEN Best Indie & Alternative Rock Live Albums? (Click on the links to go to the reviews)

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Because this is such a big category and there are so many very good indie and alternative rock live albums, I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

You can get these albums from

You may also be interested in the poll to find the best new wave and punk rock live albums.

You can see the complete list of readers polls at Live Album Polls.

My Thoughts On The Results So Far – October 2014

The top five are:

  1. MTV Unplugged In New York by Nirvana
  2. Live At The Olympia by REM
  3. Live At Reading by Nirvana
  4. From The Banks Of The Wishkah by Nirvana
  5. Kicking Television Live In Chicago by Wilco
  6. Rank by The Smith

5 & 6 were tied on the same number of votes.

As you can see, this category is dominated by Nirvana. I wonder if that will continue as the poll attracts more people to vote in it.

Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York

REM Live At The Olympia

Nirvana Live at Reading

What great indie and alternative rock live albums have I missed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.