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The best livestreamed gigs to watch at home during coronavirus | Music


Code Orange

March 14, Twitch
Having spent months planning the launch of their head-wrecking fourth album, Underneath, Pittsburgh metal crew Code Orange were unwilling to let a looming pandemic stop the mosh. After their world tour was cancelled, the five-piece opted to play a hometown gig in an empty 1,500-capacity theatre, streaming the whole thing for free via their Twitch channel. The alarmingly titled Last Ones Left: In Fear of the End show was a full-bore, bowel-quaking hour, an impressive shredded feat with retro CGI video inserts. (“When’s the PlayStation 2 game coming out?” snarked one commentator.) Amid the juddering riffage, there was little direct political commentary until singer Jami Morgan paused the show to direct the camera at the deserted venue: “This is what happens when the ratfucks who run this world don’t care about you, or me, or any of us.”

Chris Martin

March 16, Instagram

Look at the stars, look how they stream for you. At a time of unprecedented global crisis, a rather froggy-sounding Chris Martin took to Instagram Live to spread some sonic balm around the world. For the first show under the #TogetherAtHome banner, he bobbed and bumbled his way solo through some Coldplay classics on upright piano and acoustic guitar, messing up the intros to Trouble and Viva la Vida but vamping through covers of As Time Goes By and Life on Mars. For the past decade, Coldplay have been filling stadiums with state-of-the-art theatrical gimmicks; this stop-start half-hour beamed from a domestic jam-hole was comparatively tinny but surprisingly charming. And, despite his stumbling interactions, Martin never messed up plugging Global Citizen as a hub for reliable updates and advice.

Yungblud

March 16, YouTube

North country boy Yungblud brought some chaotic Big Breakfast energy to this ramshackle revue, originally beamed live from a Los Angeles warehouse at 7am. With the help of a stripped-down but energised backing band, the Yorkshire-born strutter strove to create a genuine atmosphere with his righteously revamped rock’n’roll: the bursts of applause might have been canned but the sweat pouring off the 22-year-old seemed very real. Some skits involving his celeb pals – notably a drinking game with rapper Machine Gun Kelly and actor Bella Thorne, featuring bottles of Corona – veered into self-indulgence, but when he focused on the music Yungblud sounded great. Even the cliche of smashing up a drum kit mid-song felt cathartic.

Keith Urban

March 16, Instagram

When your gig in Nashville is cancelled, what’s a modern country superstar to do? If you’re Keith Urban, you set up an iPhone and stream an impromptu show from the nearby warehouse where you store your touring gear. And, if your wife Nicole Kidman wants to bop along in the background, where’s the harm? In truth, Urban’s half-hour jam fell between two stools, lacking the immediacy of a pure solo gig but sounding too clamorous when the DAT tapes kicked in. “It’s like Wayne’s World,” he quipped. After a bumpy start, though, he settled into a groove, and the supremely laid-back Kidman was great value, even when her man directed a horny, wolf-whistle guitar solo at her during a climactic Wasted Time.

Christine and the Queens

March 16, Instagram

With Paris in lockdown, Héloïse Letissier, AKA Chris of Christine and the Queens, has found herself quarantined at the city’s storied Ferber studios, a stone’s throw from Jim Morrison’s grave. In a bid to “deal with the ENNUI”, she has promised live musical updates, the first of which was an uplifting 15-minute tonic. Dressed in black polo neck and a tremendous Rockford Files suit, Chris performed stripped-back, piano-led versions of People, I’ve Been Sad and the amazing Je disparais dans tes bras while moving hypnotically round the cavernous, wood-panelled studio. She has promised future Instagram dispatches showcasing “guests and weird concepts”, and a Q&A with fellow pop maverick Charli XCX is apparently coming up next.

John Legend

March 17, Instagram

Picking up the #TogetherAtHome baton from Chris Martin along with Charlie Puth, neo-soul smoothie Legend had a noticeably grander piano, one big enough to accommodate a laptop so he could look up any lyrics he had forgotten. The acoustics in his home were also exquisite, enhancing his already supremely honeyed vocals. Over the course of a surprisingly slick hour, things picked up when his wife, Chrissy Teigen, sauntered in, bringing some imperious Joan Collins vibes in a bath towel and turban wrap, perching herself and a generous glass of rosé on the piano. Among the love ballads and make-out songs, the sweetest request came from their daughter, Luna, who wanted to hear the title track from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. As well as semi-ironically plugging his own imminent album, Legend pointed fans toward Global Citizen and the Feeding America food bank initiative, while also suggesting fellow lovesick superstars Miguel and Camila Cabello could be streaming intimate shows next.

Ben Gibbard

March 17, YouTube

If beamed-from-home gigs are the new status quo, part of the appeal might be seeing beloved musicians messing around in a low-stakes way, leaving all that image-making and sonic perfectionism far behind. Ben Gibbard, the veteran creative force behind beloved indie acts Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service, clearly isn’t quite at the airhorns and hula-hooping stage just yet. For the first of what he plans to be a series of daily YouTube gigs from his Seattle home studio – in aid of local charity Teen Feed – he performed heartfelt solo acoustic versions of fan-requested tracks, including Northern Lights and Grapevine Fires. There was also a cover of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees that he wryly attributed to “Thomas Aquinas Yorke”. Sombre but moving, this serious-minded show was absolute manna for superfans.

Lights

March 18, Instagram

With her wild red hair, fistful of throwing knives and skull-shaped glass goblet filled with vodka cocktail, Canadian weird-pop troubadour and apprentice tattooist Lights Poxleitner-Bokan, AKA Lights, seems more prepared than most for any Mad Max future. Perched on a gaming chair in her home studio, she beamed a wistful hour of acoustic guitar versions of her open-hearted torch songs, sprinkled with interpretations of tracks by Drake, Post Malone and Joni Mitchell. Getting the full experience currently involves diving into Instagram Stories on your smartphone – with an encore of Quiet spliced on the end after the original stream automatically cut off after an hour – but Lights’s sly opening cover of Smash Mouth’s All Star has been saved for posterity.



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