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Old 08-08-2019, 04:11 PM
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Bands doing "surprise" covers in concert.


So I saw Heart the other day, and I did enjoyed it (they were the lead act, following Elle King and Joan Jett).

During the course of Heart's set, they covered Marvin Gaye's "Heard it through the Grapevine", Paul Simon's "The Boxer", and, right after the encore, Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".

I was fairly ambivalent about the first two, and rolled my eye's a bit when STH started (only because I think it is an overplayed song), but Nancy is a terrific guitarist and Ann a great singer and played the flute, which added an extra bit of authenticity. I overall liked it, even though it went on forever.

Now, I have a set of Heart songs that I adore, and they played most of those. They didn't play "Never" and that's pretty much the only missing one I would have really liked to hear. However, they have a huge library, and could easily have played 4 more Heart songs in that amount of time. I think if I had been a bit more of a Heart fan than I was, I'd be a bit peeved.

On the other hand, when I saw Barenaked Ladies, and they played a medley of currently popular songs, I absolutely adored it.

Do you like it when your band spends a long time on covers?
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:17 PM
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I wouldn't call a Zeppelin cover by Heart exactly a "surprise", as I have heard them cover Battle of Evermore, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, and the Immigrant Song live (in addition to of course their cover of Stairway in front of the remains of Zeppelin but I did not see that live.)

If a band other than Heart covering Zeppelin were to do more than 2 or so covers, it would get annoying but I've never experienced it. The closest I came was when I saw Chris Carrabba with his Americana band Twin Forks and he did two Dashboard Confessional "covers" but I liked that as I like Dashboard more than Twin Forks. Another member of the audience disagreed and expressed her displeasure at Chris from less than 10 feet away from him.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:19 PM
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They also covered El Scorcho by Weezer but that was better received by the audience than the Dashboard stuff. What's weird is that fewer people sung along to Dashboard than to Weezer even though I'm assuming they had heard about Twin Forks because of Chris.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:25 PM
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When I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2008, they had Steve Winwood as their opening act. During the Heartbreakers' set, Winwood joined them for covers of two 1960s Winwood songs: Can't Find My Way Home and Gimme Some Lovin'.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:42 PM
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There's the apocryphal story about when Bruce Hampton (not with A.R.U) opened for Cream one night, and they did Cream covers for their entire set. Those are some large and oddly-shaped balls right there.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:10 PM
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I wouldn't call a Zeppelin cover by Heart exactly a "surprise", as I have heard them cover Battle of Evermore, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, and the Immigrant Song live (in addition to of course their cover of Stairway in front of the remains of Zeppelin but I did not see that live.)
Their live cover of Zep's Rock and Roll rivals the original.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:11 PM
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In 1976, The Grateful Dead and The Who shared the bill for A Day On The Green in Oakland. The Dead opened the show and played Johnny B. Goode as their "encore".

The Who delivered their usual blistering set and also closed with Johnny B. Goode, with Keith Moon on lead vocals. Kind of sloppy, but very fun. It's one of the very few times they played the song in concert.

ps: Heart also does a mean cover of "Love Reign O'er Me".

Last edited by blondebear; 08-08-2019 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:17 PM
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We saw Kacey Musgraves at Red Rocks in late June, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear her cover "Do You Realize" by The Flaming Lips. I've since found that she did it at Bonaroo and presumably it's now part of her tour -- but she and her band did a terrific version (and the accompanying light show was fantastic). There's a bootleg YouTube video of that part of the concert, but it does neither the audio nor visuals any justice.

(There's a YouTube video of the Bonaroo performance as well, but there's a lot of singing along by folks near the bootlegging videographer.)

Musgraves's career has been a lot of fun to watch. Her lyrics and overall songsmithing have always been top-notch, but beginning with her last album "Golden Hour" she's really stretching out into some interesting and more challenging choices.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:40 PM
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Nirvana covered 5 songs in their Unplugged performance and gave, I think, the iconic performance of each. They did:

Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam - The Vaselines. I know almost no one who listens to their version.

The Man Who Sold the World
- David Bowie - I'm sure the original is famous, but I think Nirvana really did increase the fame of this song by a lot.

Plateau AND Oh, Me - Meat Puppets - I only know these songs because of Nirvana.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Lead Belly - Kurt Cobain ensured this is the definitive version of this song.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:05 PM
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On the other hand, when I saw Barenaked Ladies, and they played a medley of currently popular songs, I absolutely adored it.
I saw Barenaked Ladies playing a Canada Day concert in 2017. A beach ball was being bounced around the crowd but it was losing air, so they were joking: "Does anyone have an inflater pin so that we can put some more air into that ball?" Then Ed Robertson started rapping "Inflater" in a parody of Snow's song "Informer". I thought it was hilarious.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:07 PM
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No spoiler alert? I’m sitting waiting for the Heart concert to start. Actually I had already checked out the set list for previous concerts. I will see what they sound like.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:16 PM
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FTR in my opinion, the Grateful Dead, though they had a LOT of original material, were the quintessential of all cover bands.

There body of work including covers is staggering. Same with The Jerry Garcia Band. Two exceptional covers...Evangeline and Tangled Up In Blue
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:20 PM
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Fountains of Wayne used to play a neat 70's medley with songs like Jet, Do You Feel Like We Do, Carry On My Wayward Son, Double Vision, Story In Your Eyes, Everybody Wants You, Jet Airliner, etc.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:35 PM
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Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam - The Vaselines. I know almost no one who listens to their version.
Nirvana also covered Son of a Gun and Molly's Lips on Incesticide. It's a measure of how much money floats around a truly successful band that the Nirvana-generated royalties were enough to buy Eugene from The Vaselines a house - something he'd cheerfully admit that his own recording career was never likely to do.
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:53 PM
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I wouldn't call a Zeppelin cover by Heart exactly a "surprise", as I have heard them cover Battle of Evermore, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, and the Immigrant Song live (in addition to of course their cover of Stairway in front of the remains of Zeppelin but I did not see that live.)
Miley Cyrus covered Black Dog at Glastonbury this year as part of her hugely entertaining set. Also Metallica, Amy Winehouse, Dolly Parton (well, of course) and Nine Inch Nails.
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:16 PM
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I happened to see Dylan after the deaths of both Carl Perkins and Warren Zevon. He did "Blue Suede Shoes" with Van Morrison and "Werewolves of London".
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:22 PM
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I saw the Hooters perform in the mid-1980s and was pleasantly surprised at their cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:28 PM
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I was at Todd Rundgren/Utopia's New Year's Eve concert in 1979–1980, and at one point with no warning the band broke into "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians.
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:32 PM
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I saw the Who once in concert (well, I've actually seen them three times) and they did "Twist and Shout" as their last number. And speaking of Heart, I've never caught them live but they've done a pretty strong versions of "Unchained Melody" and Nilson's "Can't Live".
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:41 PM
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I saw the Jerry Garcia Band in Hartford, Connecticut, about two weeks after the murder of John Lennon. It was their first performace of “Dear Prudence.” Which caused quite the uproar.

The Stolen Roses album includes Bob Dylan’s version of “Friend of the Devil,” which he included in live performances shortly after Jerry Garcia passed. The audience chatter during the opening chords is particularly delicious.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:05 PM
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At the Heart/Joan Jett concert, as mentioned in OP (different day, obviously). Joan Jett had a surprise cover. She did a cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. It was a Joan Jett rocker. Now waiting for Heart.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:50 PM
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At the Heart/Joan Jett concert, as mentioned in OP (different day, obviously). Joan Jett had a surprise cover. She did a cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. It was a Joan Jett rocker. Now waiting for Heart.
Husker Du played it too, as part of this classic video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1sYN0PuRs4

In the late 1980s, my brother attended an R.E.M. concert whose playlist does not appear on a website that has a compilation of them, going back to day one. It consisted entirely of Top 40 covers, and he's always said that it was hands down the worst concert he ever attended, by anyone.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:53 PM
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I saw Foetus once, and he covered "I am the Walrus", and Tad's "Behemoth". During the latter I thought Mr. Thirlwell actually might come at me like a spider monkey because I was singing along with him.

I was pleasantly surprised by both covers, and that he didn't actually come at me like a spider monkey. He's pretty scary in person.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:14 AM
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Dream Theater used to sometimes surprise audiences by coming out for an encore and covering an entire album. Many of these performances were released on CD: The Number of the Beast, Master of Puppets, Dark Side of the Moon, Made In Japan... those are off the top of my head, but there are more.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:31 AM
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Nirvana covered 5 songs in their Unplugged performance and gave, I think, the iconic performance of each. They did:

Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam - The Vaselines. I know almost no one who listens to their version.

The Man Who Sold the World
- David Bowie - I'm sure the original is famous, but I think Nirvana really did increase the fame of this song by a lot.

Plateau AND Oh, Me - Meat Puppets - I only know these songs because of Nirvana.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Lead Belly - Kurt Cobain ensured this is the definitive version of this song.
Best live/acoustic album ever in the history of anything.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:45 AM
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When I saw Garbage....the boys played Miserlou when Shirley had to change out of a pair of split pants.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:57 AM
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Heart have played Zeppelin covers since the they started in the 1960's. My brother remembers them doing Rock n Roll in the early 1970's in Spokane. Heart covered STH at the Zeppelin tribute at the Kennedy Center. While cool, I don't think it counts as a surprise.

The Kinks did Twist and Shout as an encore in 1980 in Oakland.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:04 AM
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Saw 80's PNW stalwarts Young Fresh Fellows play the Association's Never My Love.

At the Commodore in Vancouver Nomeansno surprised me playing a cover of Dayglo Abortion's Stupid Songs (with Dayglo Murray guest singing).

Saw Urge Overkill cover Chuck Berry's Maybellene.

Frank Zappa in '84 at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre encored with Culture Club's I'll Tumble For Ya.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:06 AM
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Little Stevie opened for U2 in Philly. Bruce showed up for Stand By Me with U2 and Stevie.

Harrison’s nephew opened for ELO this year. Him, band and Jeff Lynne did Handle With Care.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:14 AM
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A couple of years ago, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo played a little bit of Smoke on the Water. I know the guitar riff is a little cliche, but it sounded SO GOOD live. The crowd went apeshit (myself and DH included ).
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:31 AM
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Springsteen has done some really good covers, in my opinion.

He opened some Australian shows in 2014 with Highway To Hell. Great move to get the local crowd on your side, and it's just a fun song.

You Never Can Tell - This one is just fun to watch them all working it out on stage. Not the best cover ever done, but considering that they seemed to pull it all together in a couple of minutes, not bad at all. And I just love the big grin on Bruce's face.

From that same Australian tour - Stayin' Alive. Yes, really

And another one they put together on the fly - Shake, Rattle and Roll

I think the E Street Band is still, at its heart, a really good bar band, and when they're just having fun it really shows.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:05 AM
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I saw the Plant and Page tour when they stopped in Chicago, hell when was that? Mid 90s somewhere? They covered "Break On Through" by the Doors, which came as a surprise to me.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:07 AM
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...
I was fairly ambivalent about the first two, and rolled my eye's a bit when STH started (only because I think it is an overplayed song), but Nancy is a terrific guitarist and Ann a great singer and played the flute, which added an extra bit of authenticity. I overall liked it, even though it went on forever.

...
Do yourself a favor and look up their version of this from the Zeppelin Kennedy Center Honors program.

Last edited by bobot; 08-09-2019 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:08 AM
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Mr. Big does "Smoke on the Water" with the drummer on bass, the guitarrist on drums, the singer on guitar, and the bassist on vocals, and then the Singer goes to bass, the bassist to guitar and the drummer on vocals.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:12 AM
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Saw Tom Waits perform Papa's Got A Brand New Bag.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:19 AM
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A surprise cover not.


Decades ago I saw David Bromberg in concert. While his band members were taking a break, Bromberg began playing Mr Bojangles. Everyone recognized the tune and began cheering. Bromberg continued to strum, but started talking about what a great song it was, and what a great artist Jerry Jeff Walker was.

After strumming/talking for a good ten or fifteen minutes he said he wasn't going to sing the song that night since he couldn't do it justice. He urged us all to see Jerry Jeff Walker do it instead.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:55 AM
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Found a video of Joan Jett doing the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NI8WJ85EVw

By the way.. I liked the Heart version of The Boxer, but lines like "I an just a poor boy" and singing about getting come-ons from the whores on 7th Avenue didn't sound right.

And I have bought Heart doing Stairway to Heaven and Rock and Roll, so Stairway to Heaven just seemed like one of their songs.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:38 AM
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Springsteen has done some really good covers, in my opinion.

He opened some Australian shows in 2014 with Highway To Hell. Great move to get the local crowd on your side, and it's just a fun song.

You Never Can Tell - This one is just fun to watch them all working it out on stage. Not the best cover ever done, but considering that they seemed to pull it all together in a couple of minutes, not bad at all. And I just love the big grin on Bruce's face.

From that same Australian tour - Stayin' Alive. Yes, really

And another one they put together on the fly - Shake, Rattle and Roll

I think the E Street Band is still, at its heart, a really good bar band, and when they're just having fun it really shows.
That cover of Staying Alive is terrific.

He also opened a show in New Zealand with an acoustic version of Lorde's Royals.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:31 PM
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How do I become the first to mention the tour Weird Al did last year where he did 77 different closing cover songs in 77 concerts? Link that explains a little which links to a YouTube video.

Plus I learned about it here. Someone should have posted this already.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:52 PM
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I was quite happy when Leftover Salmon broke out in Danger Man by David Bromberg
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:14 PM
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Do you like it when your band spends a long time on covers?
If they spent a long time doing it I could see myself finding it irritating. I’ve frequently been in concerts where the band covered one or two songs, and have enjoyed that. But if they did it a lot, yeah I think I’d be a little irked about missing out on more of their original work. When I see live music I’ve typically bought tickets to a specific group that I want to see, and it’s their specific music and songwriting that I’m there to see. It’s not necessarily that I’ve missed out on specific favorite songs, there’s always the chance their specific set list doesn’t align, but just their overall “sound” and “theme”. Of course, some covers are so in sync with their work that it matters less, and I totally wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are cases where I didn’t even recognize that it was a cover.
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:45 PM
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I waited all my life to see Leon Russell. Somehow, the stars were never in alignment. Finally got a chance to see him in 2014, a couple years before his death. He played almost exclusively covers, and none of my favorites of his originals. We actually walked out. Very disappointing.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:33 PM
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I waited all my life to see Leon Russell. Somehow, the stars were never in alignment. Finally got a chance to see him in 2014, a couple years before his death. He played almost exclusively covers, and none of my favorites of his originals. We actually walked out. Very disappointing.
Wow. Never saw him, though I was a huge fan. I would have paid to see him do a sound check.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:00 AM
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I waited all my life to see Leon Russell. Somehow, the stars were never in alignment. Finally got a chance to see him in 2014, a couple years before his death. He played almost exclusively covers, and none of my favorites of his originals. We actually walked out. Very disappointing.
Did he do that Carpenters song?


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Old 08-10-2019, 10:05 AM
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Michael Hedges was an amazing guitar player. Most of his songs were instrumental but he would sprinkle in some covers that he would sing on. Most well known is his cover of All Along the Watchtower but he did some other weird ones like Buffalo Stance and Lucky Star

https://youtu.be/XqGHE5GqZ44
https://youtu.be/41l3UzA64sE
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:05 AM
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Richard Thompson (with or without band) is noted for doing unpredictable covers. For example, "She May Call You Up Tonight" and "Ooops! I Did It Again." They are not exactly surprises, since he will generally do them at every performance in a tour, but it's pretty hard to figure out what he'll choose to perform. Might be something from The Kinks, Cream, or Bowling for Soup. But he invariably makes it great. (Yes, even his cover of "Ooops! I Did It Again" is outstanding.)
  #47  
Old 08-10-2019, 11:16 AM
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Faith No More do a good cover version at concerts. They performed the Michael Jackson song "Ben" at Coachella and at other concerts have dropped in New Kids On The Block's "The Right Stuff" and The Village People's "Macho Man".

I think the most surprising thing they did though was the theme tune to a British TV soap called EastEnders. They've done that at least twice I think!
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Old 08-10-2019, 03:26 PM
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Did he do that Carpenters song?


d&r
No, I wish he had. I assume you mean Superstar, great song. One cover I remember him doing is I've Just Seen A Face, and he barrelled thru it like he couldn't wait to be done. Very disappointing show. Luckily Hot Tuna was the opening act, so the evening wasn't a total loss.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:09 AM
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Metallica seems to have started playing covers of local bands when they play outside of the US.

In Belgium
In France
In France again

I don't know whether they're surprise covers or sort of expected by their fans, but it's a nice gesture, especially since they learn the original lyrics. I just wonder how many such songs they have in their repertoire for when they tour, say, Latvia for instance.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:45 AM
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Nirvana covered 5 songs in their Unplugged performance and gave, I think, the iconic performance of each. They did:


The Man Who Sold the World
- David Bowie - I'm sure the original is famous, but I think Nirvana really did increase the fame of this song by a lot.
That is an incredible album and performance by Nirvana, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...
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