Great live covers

(Revised 07.29.2013)

While I was driving the other day, the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin’ ” came on the radio. For me, that song will forever be linked with my first concert experience and hearing Hootie & The Blowfish do a great cover of it ...

It got me thinking: What are the most memorable live covers I've seen performed, live and in person?

So I composed a list. Here they are, counting down …

18. “Eleanor Rigby” -- The Fray (Jan. 2007, Carthage College; Kenosha, Wis.)

17. “Maggie May” -- Edwin McCain (July 2004, Summerfest; Milwaukee)

16. “Tiny Dancer” -- Ben Folds (July 2003, Summerfest; Milwaukee) … He did an impeccable Elton John impression, donning the big white-rimmed sunglasses and all

15. “Carry On Wayward Son” -- Ben Folds Five (Nov. 1997, The Grenada; Lawrence, Kan.)

14. “Imagine” -- Blues Traveler (Aug. 1996, Sandstone Amphitheater; Bonner Springs, Kan.) … John Popper on his harmonica; a version of it appears on their “Live from the Fall” disc.

13. “Going To California” -- Train (July 2006, Summerfest; Milwaukee)

12. “Such Great Heights” -- Ben Folds (July 2007, Summerfest; Milwaukee)

11. “Long Train Runnin’” -- Hootie & the Blowfish (July 1996, Sandstone Amphitheater; Bonner Springs, Kan.)

10. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” -- O.A.R. (May 2006, Carthage College; Kenosha, Wis.)

9. “Rock n’ Roll” -- Sheryl Crow (June 2010, Summerfest, Milwaukee.)

8. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” -- Sister Hazel (June 2001, The City Market; Kansas City, Mo.) … My friend Tom and I recognized the opening riff immediately and looked at each other with “Are they really playing this!?” looks. It was A-Maz-Ing … And our friend Tad missed the whole thing because he decided a minute earlier it was a good time to make a bathroom run.

7. “For What It's Worth” -- OneRepublic (Nov. 2008, Carthage College; Kenosha, Wis.)

6. “Peg” -- Jason Mraz (Nov. 2008, The Rave; Milwaukee) … The brass made it. Here's a clip of a Mraz performance in L.A.

5. “Crazy” -- OneRepublic (Nov. 2008, Carthage College; Kenosha, Wis.) … A hopping, rock ‘n’ roll-tinged cover that the guitarist introduced with a Mariachi-styled solo.

4. “Breakfast in America” -- James Blunt (Oct. 2006, The Rave; Milwaukee) … It was so darn surprising, and so darn good.

3. “You Can't Always Get What You Want” -- Fun (June 2013, Summerfest, Milwaukee)... It was classic rock n' roll, and Nate Ruess was channeling Mick Jagger.

2. “Dream On” -- Train (July 2006, Summerfest; Milwaukee) … A highly memorable live cover at one of the best shows I’ve seen. The yellow confetti exploding over the crowd at the end put it over the edge ...

Even better -- I found a clip of it ...

1. “Live And Let Die” -- The Polyphonic Spree (June 2008, Summerfest; Milwaukee) … It came totally unexpected and it was almost as if Paul McCartney and Wings had taken over the bodies of The Polyphonic Spree orchestra ...

Here's a video of the performance, which, of course, doesn't do it justice, not to mention it's a wee bit shaky ...


Anonymous said...

Here's A few good covers I can think of.

I have an MP3 of Sting doing a 1/2 way decent cover of The Beatles' "penny lane". Apparently he does that song fairly often in concert. Since I can't find a copy of Sting doing it on the series of tubes, here's a video of John Bayless doing it in the style of Bach:

Tori Amos' is a prolific cover artist. But she does some awesome covers. She's done versions of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" , Led Zepplin's "Thank You", Rolling Stone's "Angie", Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence", Madonna's "Like a Prayer", and REM's "Losing my Religion".

Teen Spirit:
Enjoy The Silence:
Like a Prayer:

In the same vein there's Alanis Morissette's "My Humps":

And of course there's Phish, doing Hanson's MMMMbop, in the style of James Brown. :D

Horns! said...

You're right Justin -- Tori Amos is a good cover artist! And the Phish cover of Hanson in the style of James Brown is classic.