Did Beyoncé just surprise-drop the best live album of all time?

Los Angeles Times staff writers, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

If you were there -- or if you just watched it on YouTube -- then you know that Beyonce's performance at the 2018 Coachella festival may have been the greatest concert of our time.

A loving and deeply thought-through re-creation of a halftime show at a historically black college, Beychella (as it quickly became known) blew minds with the scale and audacity of its vision, and with the mastery of its execution.

Now, between the two weekends of this year's festival, the singer has revisited her epic accomplishment in a Netflix documentary and an accompanying live album, both titled "Homecoming."

If Beychella was the best concert of the last decade or two, does it follow that "Homecoming" is one of the greatest live albums ever? Our experts debate its claim to music history.

MIKAEL WOOD: One of the many ways of looking at "Homecoming," which contains 40(!) tracks and appeared without warning early Wednesday on the major streaming services, is as a reaffirmation of that musty, vinyl-era artifact, the live album.

Live records once were big business. They offered artists the chance to show off what they could do outside a carefully controlled recording studio.


Think of "Live at Leeds," which restored the Who's explosive reputation following the theatrical "Tommy." Or "Aretha Live at Fillmore West," with Franklin's radical reimagining of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Or "Cheap Trick at Budokan" or James Brown's "Live at the Apollo" or even "Frampton Comes Alive!"

These days, of course, artists don't need to make an album to preserve their concert work; that's what Instagram and YouTube are for.

But as always, Beyonce's ambitions outstrip those of her peers. So here's her attempt to break into the live-album canon -- indeed, perhaps to dominate it.

SONAIYA KELLEY: Let me preface this by saying that, while I am a fan of Beyonce, I'm not a diehard member of the Beyhive by any means. That being said, yes, "Homecoming" is one of the greatest live albums ever. If nothing else, the intention behind her performance makes it so.


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