Miss Live Music? Stream These Concert Films Online to Get Your Fix

·7 min read

With lockdowns around the country still in place due to Covid, you may find yourself longing for the days of live music, counting down the days until seeing your favorite band on tour again is not only possible, but safe.

Covid-19 has left its mark on many industries, but the global live music industry has seen venues shut down, major festivals and tours screech to a halt, and artists left without rowdy crowds to sing back their most beloved lyrics. There truly is no substitute to seeing live music in-person — one of the most emotionally-charged elements of attending concerts is collectively witnessing those moments on stage that can’t be replicated on a regular studio album.

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Still, while live concerts won’t exactly be happening anytime soon, artists and bands are getting creative with ways to keep concerts alive. Livestreaming shows online has been a popular alternative to traditional tours, with many major acts finding success switching from the lo-fi Instagram Live streams of earlier in the pandemic, to full-blown, massively-produced paid concerts. Groups like Queen + Adam Lambert and The Rolling Stones are also making previously-recorded live concert films available to stream online.

Western Stars
Western Stars

For now, that’s the best way to experience live music from the safety — and comfort — of home. It’s easy to go back and relive some iconic moments in music history, as there are decades worth of live recorded concerts available to stream on services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Max. If you just want to close your eyes and lose yourself in the music, we also have a list of the best live concert albums for your listening pleasure.

What Are the Best Concert Films to Stream Online?

Here is our list of the best live concert films that replicate the electric thrill of being part of a concert audience. You may not be able to throw down in a pit, grab an overpriced drink, or record some shaky footage on your phone just yet, but these films will hopefully make your living room feel more like an energetic stadium, if only for the length of the show. Some of our picks also include documentary-style behind-the-scenes footage too, so you can watch what went on after the concert lights went down. You won’t need to plop down a huge chunk of change for tickets either. The best live concert films are all available to stream free online, with a subscription to these streaming services.

Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (1997)

After a publicly rocky history between the members, this MTV special reunited the original Rumours-era line-up of Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood to promote the live album The Dance. Together again for the first time in a decade, Fleetwood Mac performed beloved hits such as “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” and “Don’t Stop,” interspersed with some new tracks from individual members. The USC marching band also backed the group during “Tusk” and “Don’t Stop”. It was a nostalgic return-to-force, and the opener—a sweeping rendition of “The Chain”—is one to remember.

WHERE TO STREAM: Amazon Prime / Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here

Amazing Grace (2018)

Scheduled for release in 2011, but pushed to 2019 due to a mountain of legal issues and technical problems with the audio and video, it’s a miracle that this masterpiece is currently streaming in all its glory. Documenting a soulful and exuberant Aretha Franklin, the film shows her recording the 1972 live album of the same name, backed by a gospel choir in front of a church audience at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Franklin is in her prime, and you can feel the deeply personal and powerful energy in renditions of traditional songs like “Amazing Grace.” It’s a truly a timeless, transcendent performance.

WHERE TO STREAM: Hulu / Watch with a free trial to Hulu here

Sign O’ The Times (1987)

Filmed at Paisley Park, Prince is at his absolutely best with masterful guitar work, multiple flashy costumes, and some signature sexy moves. The self-directed concert film was originally meant to include footage shot during his filmed during his 1987 tour, but unsatisfied, he later re-recorded it at his home studio the way we see it today. Some highlights from the set include a gospel version of “Little Red Corvette”, “U Got the Look”, and “Play in the Sunshine”.

WHERE TO STREAM: Amazon Prime / Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here

The Last Waltz (1978)

As joyous of a swan song as you can get, on Thanksgiving Day, 1976, The Band performed their final concert, which turned into a legendary event captured by a legendary director. Martin Scorsese filmed the sharp performances, as a star-studded group of guest stars joined them on stage, including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, and Neil Young. The show includes a collection of The Band’s greatest hits, covers, as well as backstage interviews that capture the feeling that everyone was simultaneously experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event, and just another day on the stage.

WHERE TO STREAM: Amazon Prime / Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here

Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (2019)

“The Boss” is still a master of soulful songwriting, but this concert film really proves that he can still create a unique concert experiences like no other. Filmed inside Bruce Springsteen’s own barn in New Jersey, the legend of Americana rock performs songs from his 2019 album Western Stars. Backed by a full orchestra, the atmosphere is packed with big, sweeping sound, while the lyrics still remain deeply intimate. We would expect nothing less.

WHERE TO STREAM: Free on HBO Max / rent for $3.99 on Amazon

Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012)

There’s something unusual and bittersweet about watching a group that you know will go on to reunite in just a few years take an epic, emotionally-charged victory lap. But for all the introspection that LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy shows about how to know when to call it quits, this documentary still absolutely works as a concert film. The four-hour LCD Soundsystem “farewell” concert performed at Madison Square Garden has it all—intense passion, dazzling sound, and brilliant burst of energy. As you watch the sold-out audience jams to the blasting synths, you know that the party is never really over.

WHERE TO STREAM: Hulu / Watch with a free trial to Hulu here

American Utopia (2020)

Spike Lee directed American Utopia, this filmed version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway musical, which was adapted from his 2018 American Utopia tour. Sixteen musicians help perform the hits of Bryne’s career, as well as several iconic Talking Heads numbers. Lee captures the highly ambitious staging and impressive choreography with glorious camerawork, making it one of the most original concert experiences set to film. But if you can’t get enough of that oversized suit, or are just interested in another inventive Byrne joint, we recommend the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense (which is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime).

WHERE TO STREAM: HBO Max

Gimme Shelter (1970)

Considered by many to be one of the greatest music documentaries ever made, Gimme Shelter‘s legacy persists as a moment when the freewheeling optimism of the Sixties abruptly came to an close, all captured on camera. Filmed by Albert and David Maysles, the movie documents The Rolling Stones’ 1969 free concert at a festival in Altamont, California. What was “Fyre Festival”-levels of poor planning takes a dark turn, as tensions heightened between the band and the Hell’s Angels who were providing security, all culminating in the violent death of an 18-year-old man. In an instant, the music industry, and the world, would never be the same.

WHERE TO STREAM: HBO Max

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