Live Through A Lens: 10 Great Concert DVDS

The news that Aerosmith are to release a DVD of their headlining set at Download festival last summer got us thinking about other great live DVDs. Here’s 10 that offer thrilling front row views, without the unpleasantness of having sweaty, topless men sliming up against you…

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

Much sought-after on the bootleg trading circuit for decades, it wasn’t until 2003 that immaculately restored footage of Zeppelin’s mythical stands at Madison Square Garden (1973), the Royal Albert Hall (1970), Earls Court (1975) and Knebworth (1979) officially saw the light as the centrepieces of this stunning five hour, double DVD set. Casual fans may recoil in horror from the idea of a 20 minute version of How Many More Times, but for Zeppelin fans this is pretty much the Holy Grail.

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AC/DC - Let There Be Rock

As with Zeppelin’s overwrought The Song Remains The Same film, Let There Be Rock could benefit from the removal of somewhat embarrassing sequences of the band members’ off-stage activities, but the live footage of a feral and full-tilt ‘DC filmed at the Pavillon de Paris on December 9, 1979 is just breath-robbing. Those upcoming stadium shows will be spectacular, but this is a brilliant reminder of just how gloriously raw and visceral the Aussie band could be with Bon Scott at the helm.

Slipknot - Disasterpieces

Filmed at London’s Dockland Arena on February 16, 2002 at the tail end of the Iowan 18-legged death machine’s European tour in support of Iowa, Disasterpieces pulls off the nigh-on impossible task of capturing the spectacle, brutality and almost overwhelming head-fucking intensity of Slipknot at their ferocious best, via the genius tactic of sticking cameras on band and audience members. Watching it now, it’s hard not to miss Joey Jordison and Paul Gray, but it’s difficult to conceive of a better palate cleanser ahead of this week’s arena shows.

Opeth - In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

“We are bringing death metal into the halls of high culture,” jokes Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt as the Swedish prog metal maestros celebrate their 20th anniversary with an epic three hour set in London’s most prestigious and beautiful live room, but really his band do so much more than that. Combining a spell-binding reading of 2001’s classic Blackwater Park album with a dip into highlights from the band’s rich back catalogue this is a captivating portrait of a bunch of musicians truly in love with their art.

Iron Maiden - En Vivo!

Life After Death might be more iconic, and Flight 666 may provide a better 360 view of their global popularity, but for an in-your-face, pulse-quickening taste of Maiden in full flight it’s hard to top this state-of-the-art document of the British metal legends’ April 10, 2011 show at Santiago’s Estadion Nacional for 50,000 wildly passionate Chilean Headbangers, Earthdogs, Rivet Heads, Hell Rats and Metal Maniacs. Is there a better live band on the planet?

Converge - The Long Road Home

Not all concert videos have to be lavish 26 camera affairs, with airships and helicopters delivering aerial views. While The Long Road Home features three full live sets from the New England hardcore crew’s 2002 tour, some of its most thrilling moments are those shot by fans on hand-held cameras in clubs from France to New York city. Imagine standing six inches from a whirring helicopter blade and you’ll have some idea of the sense of exhilaration evident here.

Metallica - S&M

Such is the frequency with which they bowl into our backyard, that it’s possible to take Metallica’s live prowess for granted. But S&M, a document of the quartet’s historic 1999 collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, is a reminder that this is a band who operate at the very peak of their progression. The DVD affords viewers the opportunity to isolate the band and orchestra contributions individually, but really, why would you want to do that when you can hear the magic they weave together on the likes of The Outlaw Torn and No Leaf Clover? Majestic. ** **

At The Gates - The Flames Of The End

At The Gates’ definitive, three disc DVD set attracted much acclaim for guitarist Anders Bjorlers’ excellent 2 hour documentary feature Under A Serpent Sun, but footage of the pioneering Gothenburg death metallers’ 2008 Wacken festival performance is equally stirring. Scanning down a list of the band’s scheduled 2015 shows it’s glaringly obvious that the Swedes haven’t got a single UK show booked as yet: someone rectify this situation immediately please.

Slayer - Still Reigning

Slayer. Playing Reign In Blood in full. How could this be any less than excellent? Well, in truth this document of the band’s July 11, 2004 show in Augusta, Maine could be a little sharper, as an onstage bloodbath didn’t exactly accentuate the pin-sharp clarity of the sound mix, but still, this a glorious reminder that the Araya/King/Hanneman/Lombardo line-up of Slayer were one of the finest live bands ever.

Devin Townsend Project - The Retinal Circus

Hmmm, how to explain this night of theatrical madness for the uninitiated? When Devin Townsend rolled into the Roundhouse in London on October 27, 2012 he brought with him fireworks, pole dancers, a choir, a giant vagina, special guests (you might spot a certain Hammer scribe beneath the corpse paint below) and enough jaw-dropping insanity to leave any future scientists studying 21st century culture scratching their heads for eternity. You will never see anything like it. ** **

Care to nominate your own favourites?

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.