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The Greatest Live Covers of Beatles Songs

Sourabh was trained in Indian classical music, but developed a special affinity for the Beatles and George Harrison, since 2007.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2004


That Prince Guitar Solo

When you have the musical genius and sheer virtuosity of Prince, there are few things, musically, which are beyond the realm of your abilities. We're so used to seeing Prince the performer, create iconic moments on stage, that we forget the talent of Prince the guitarist. The year's 2004, Prince and George Harrison (posthumously) are being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and its the final performance of the night.

Rock legend and George's dear friend, Tom Petty is sharing lead vocals with ELO front man Jeff Lynne, and Dhani Harrison, George's son, is playing acoustic guitar in the background. The song starts, and for about three minutes, Prince is nowhere to be seen, lurking in the shadows, just strumming along. The first couple of solos in the song are note-perfect recreations of the Clapton version, and at this point, you're thinking that you know how this is going to end.

Almost instantly, the spotlight shifts to Prince, looking resplendent in red and black, and he proceeds to dominate that song in a way no one could have ever imagined. He's in his element, displaying the entire range of guitar playing techniques in his arsenal, while also managing to fall back into the crowd and return mid-solo, with Dhani Harrison scarcely believing his eyes, much like all of us watching. Prince is being egged on by Tom Petty to continue and stretch out the solo even more, because every single person watching knows that something special is happening. By the end of the song, there's no doubt left that Prince has forever changed people's idea of what that song could be. One of the greatest live performances of all time, period.

Other well-known artists who played on the song included Steve Winwood and Steve Ferrone.

As the song ended, Prince threw his guitar into the crowd, and walked off stage. To this day, no one knows what happened to that guitar, and who managed to get their hands on it.

Fool On The Hill - The Night That Changed America, 2014


The Eurythmics Reunion

On the 50th anniversary of the The Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, a tribute concert was held to celebrate the day music changed for Americans. The tribute featured many popular musicians like Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys, and John Legend, who covered famous Beatles songs.

However it was the 80's britpop band, The Eurythmics which won the audience over, when they covered a lesser-known song from the Beatles discography, Fool On The Hill. Annie Lennox on lead vocals gave a rousing, energetic performance, ably supported by Dave Stewart on acoustic guitar. In a roaring performance that belied her age, Annie Lennox was in the mood as she belted out a full-throated rendition that left everyone satiated. The performance earned a standing ovation from both Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, as well as most of the audience.

The Eurythmics hadn't performed together since 2005, but reunited especially for this tribute concert in 2014. They would go on to perform together at Sting's 30th year We'll Be Together Concert in 2019.

Don't Let Me Down - Crossroads Guitar Festival, 2013


The Keith Urban-John Mayer Jam

Fair warning, this isn't John Mayer's greatest vocal performance. Fresh out of his vocal chord surgery, you can see him squirming and grimacing through the high notes of this Beatles anthem. There's a point at which Keith Urban is forced to take over vocal duties, because John can't hit those high notes, and that's where you begin to feel a great performance is in the making. Keith Urban is an absolute beast on this song, both as vocalist and guitarist, effortlessly powering through the lyrics as Mayer readily takes a backseat.

However, John Mayer without his vocal prowess, is still a highly prolific guitar player, and it shows in the last three minutes of the performance, as the two embark on an improvised guitar duet, which is teeming with crackling chemistry. As it is Crossroads, a great guitar performance is expected, and both don't disappoint, combining to create a wonderful crescendo, which is finished ever so satisfyingly.

The duo would also go on to perform the same song together, at the 50th anniversary tribute concert to the Beatles, in 2014.

Something - Sirius XM Radio Acoustic Live, December 2020


Billie Eilish Mesmerizes Us

I must admit, this one surprised me. Something is my favourite Beatles track, and there have been many good covers recorded by greats like Frank Sinatra, Elton John and so on. But we're talking about live performances. There's a maturity to the song, that you don't expect an 18 year old to pull off. But Billie Eilish knocks your socks off with this brooding, haunting rendition, which lays bare the depth and beauty of her voice, which sometimes get hidden in her pop songs.

Set against a piano score, her full voice is full of longing and desire, which makes this cover sound more irresistible than any you've heard before. A lot of us tend to dismiss her, based on our dislike for today's pop music and her style of music videos, but she pulls you in effortlessly, and you're left feeling sorry about doubting her formidable vocal talent.

This was the third Beatles song covered by Billie Eilish, who had also covered Yesterday, and I Will, previously.

With A Little Help From My Friends - Woodstock, 1969


Joe Cocker Creates A Masterpiece

This isn't just one of the best Beatles' covers sung live. This is considered one of the best rock and roll performances of all time. It's hard to not think of this song, when you hear the words 'Joe Cocker' and 'Woodstock', in the same breath.

Originally created by The Beatles as an easy to sing song, for Ringo Starr, Joe Cocker on a cloudy day in 1969, ensured that his version would last just as long in the pages of history. Unlike Ringo, Joe sings the song with a turbocharged raw intensity and passion, in the ilk of Janis Joplin. This performance would make the song an anthem at Woodstock, and enjoyed a renaissance on the charts later. Allegedly performed while being high on acid, this performance assumes an even more iconic rock and roll status. Despite being a Beatles track, the song is equally associated with this performance, even today.

Once the Beatles heard this performance by Joe Cocker, John Lennon and Paul McCartney publicly stated that they wished they had composed the song in the way he'd performed it.

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