7 Songs That Sound Better Live (Rock & Metal)


7 Songs That Sound Better Live (Rock & Metal)

Musicians spend a lot of time and effort in the studio to make their songs sell. But sometimes, the end product doesn't turn out quite as it should have. Thankfully, live performances allow artists to experiment and play with their original material. Often times, this leads to a live product which actually sounds better than the original.

There are dozens of these songs out there, and of course there was no way I could possibly include all of them, especially since I'm only limited to 15 videos. So after several edits, I've managed to narrow it down to my top 7 picks. I decided to go more obscure with this list, but tried to be as diverse as possible featuring songs who's live versions are completely different as well as versions that are similar but simply rock harder. I've also included one non English song and one acoustic song. So turn up the volume and disturb your annoying neighbors as you listen to 7 songs who's live versions are better than their studio versions.

An important side note, I actually heard the live versions of these songs BEFORE hearing the studio versions.


I decided to start us off with a none English song. The song "Kap Ko Kap" , which translates to "Drop By Drop" was written by Bosnian rock band, Divlje Jagode (Wild Strawberries). The band originally formed in 1977, when Bosnia was still part of Yugoslavia, but the song "Kap Ko Kap" wouldn't be written for a few more decades. The song was featured on the band's 2003 album "Od Neba Do Neba" (From Heaven To Heaven). Although it was released in 2003, the band stuck to their original sound, and the song quickly became a single and the band's biggest hit. The song was performed live on a popular Bosnian music show. Although the studio version is pretty heavy and has clearer vocals, the live version is faster and has a higher guitar pitch. Not normally something you want on a studio album, but sounds perfect when used in live performances.

Studio Version

Live Version

6. Love Gun- KISS

Kiss is known for being one of the greatest live bands of all time, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that a KISS song made this list. There are probably a few KISS songs that could've made this list, but I ended up going with "Love Gun". The song was released in 1977, on the band's sixth studio album also entitled "Love Gun". There are several reasons I prefer the live version of this song. Aside from Paul Stanley soaring over the audience, the live version is faster than the studio version, and Paul's vocals and melody sound much better, especially on the chorus. I'm just glad I heard the live version first, because the studio version kind of sucks.

Studio Version

Live Version

5. Rock Bottom- UFO

UFO's 1979 live album "Strangers In The Night" is what introduced me to this English rock band, and after listening to some of their studio recordings, I have to say this is one of those bands that sounds better live. I probably could've put most of the UFO catalog on this list, but I ended up going with their 1974 song "Rock Bottom", as there is a strong consensus amongst UFO fans that the live version of this song is better than the studio version. Although the studio version isn't bad, the live version is faster and sounds more raw. Not to mention, the original live version released on "Strangers In The Night" is around 11 minutes long, twice as long as the original studio version, due to an extended guitar solo. But since I figured no one reading this will want to listen to an 11 minute song, I've posted an 8 minute live version, which is still pretty sweet.

Studio Version

Live Version

4. Down The Road- KANSAS

When it came to Kansas, my knowledge of their catalog was basically the same three hits they played on the radio. But when they came to my town, I decided to check them out. By this time, the band had a new lead singer, who was losing his voice, but instrumentally they were incredible! I never knew Kansas as a progressive rock band, and was immediately hooked, thanks largely to David Ragsdale's sick violin skills. So this concert was basically my introduction to Kansas. Not really being familiar with the band members, I thought I was watching the original line up, and thought the songs sounded pretty good, until I got home and listened to the originals. However, you can't argue that the band's 1975 song "Down The Road" sounds better than the original. Not only does Billy Greer sound better than the current lead singer, the live version is twice as long as the original, with extended solos and a kickass keyboard riff, not featured on the studio album, giving the song even more of a progressive sound.

Studio Version

Live Version

3. Then Came The Last Days Of May- BLUE OYSTER CULT

This is another band who's catalog I was completely unfamiliar with, aside from the three hits played on the radio, but these guys happened to be in my town one weekend so I thought why not. Once again, after seeing these guys live, the studio versions of their songs were a real disappointment. This is another one of those bands that simply sounds better live, and once again, there are a few B.O.C. songs that could have made this list, but in the end, I ended up going with "Then Came the Last Days of May". Featured on their 1972 debut album, the song was nothing more than a 3.5 minute ballad. The live performance on the other hand is anything but. Aside from the fact the the live version instrumentally sounds nothing like the original studio version, the live version features a killer fast paced 6.5 minute guitar solo, which has turned it into more of a progressive rock song, than a ballad. I've rarely come across a song who's live version sounds completely different from the studio version. They are practically two different songs at this point.

Studio Version

Live Version

2. Fear of the Dark- IRON MAIDEN

Anyone who's been to a Maiden concert should have known that there was no way this list was getting published, without at least one Maiden song. When it comes to bands who sound better live, Iron Maiden takes the cake! Pretty much any Maiden song could have ended up on this list, but in the end I decided to go with "Fear of the Dark", as this is the number one choice for Maiden fans when listing songs that sound better live. The song was released on the band's 1992 album of the same name, and is a fan favorite at concerts. As was the case with the last couple of bands, I was introduced to Maiden when they performed a concert in my town. I finally realized what all the fuss was about and what I had been missing all these years. Now Maiden is my second favorite band of all time. As was the case with the other bands, after the concert I listened to the original studio version of "Fear of the Dark" and was not too impressed. Something was missing from the studio version. That something was the chanting of the crowd. It adds something to Maiden's music that the band had always been missing, which was back up vocals. Some how, the guitar riffs and crowd chants just belong together, and have made Maiden's songs the way they were meant to sound.

Studio Version

Live Version

1. In Trance- SCORPIONS

I decided to rank this song number 1 as it is by far, the most interesting on the list, involving several factors that were not found in the other songs. After listening to both versions, you will understand why I ranked this song number 1. Firstly, this is probably one of the more obscure songs in the Scorpions' catalog. The song was featured on the band's 1975 album of the same name. I'm just gonna be straight forward, although this is one of my favorite bands, this song is not their finest work. Aside from the chorus, the song is basically a creepy screeching disaster. Now here's where it gets interesting. Probably the worst thing a heavy band can do, is go acoustic. In the case of the Scorpions however, it was one of the best decisions of their career. In 2013, shortly before the band was set to retire, the Scorpions held a small acoustic tour in Europe. Their acoustic show in Athens was featured as part of an MTV Unplugged special. I normally don't even watch acoustic shows as I expect them to be shit, and honestly the acoustic versions of "No One Like You" and "Rock You Like A Hurricane" were, but being the huge Scorpions fan that I am, I couldn't resist. I'm pleased to say that for the most part, their acoustic set actually sounded really damn good. Not only that, several of these songs actually sounded better than their original studio versions, the best of them all being "In Trance". Aside from the obvious use of acoustic instruments, the live version was co-sung by a German female vocalist. A lot of times, bringing on co-singers can completely ruin a song, but in this case, it was the right decision by Klaus. The acoustic instruments which are actually surprisingly louder, addition of a violin orchestra and a female vocalist, replacement of the original creepy solo with acoustic guitars and orchestral chanting, coupled with Klaus's faster higher and more upbeat vocal melody, turned the song from creepy screeching crap, into an awesome progressive rock song. No other song on my list has been improved THIS much. In fact, the live acoustic version of "In Trance" is now one of my all time favorite Scorpion's song.

Studio Version

Live Version

Thanks for reading. Before you comment, here are a few honorable mentions that I couldn't fit onto the list.


Alice Cooper- Ballad of Dwight Fry

America- Sand Man

Cheap Trick- I Want You To Want Me

X Japan- Weekend

Twisted Sister- The Kids Are Back

7 Songs That Sound Better Live (Rock & Metal)
Add Opinion
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6Guy Opinion

Most Helpful Girl

  • PrincessGrail
    I will build a lake of vodka for the Eternal Princess to drink from when she returns.

    Saint Bridget of Ireland (paraphrased)

    Good night, sweet Zeus
    Bolts of lightning sing thee to thy divine dick...
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Guy

  • DDpsy
    I would say pretty much any Iron Maiden song usually sounds better live.
    Is this still revelant?
    • Except maybe Run To The Hills
      Aside from that, that's exactly what I said

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Accidental_Genius
    I think there R so many songs that feel better to hear them in live! Because of the way the singer acts in his/her live shows.. it can have different reasons
  • Tomsta
    Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
    The spirit Carries On - Dream Theater

    Master of Puppets - Metallica
    • You're the second person to say "Master of Puppets" I'll have to check. I'm not much of a Metallica fan

    • Tomsta

      Only because Metallica have a habit of playing songs faster live

    • faster isn't always better.
      Most of the time it is, but not always

    • Show All
  • metallicafan_22
    I would add The Bards Song by Blind Guardian, it sounds way better live! ImI
  • Nadim171
    Great! Add some crusading to it
  • Exterminatore
    Whaaaaa? No Creeping Death?
  • AwesomeLadaaay
  • Eleni91
    Anything by Queen awesome live.
  • Sofie1979
    Master Of Puppets is a good live.
    • Thanks. I'm not much of a Metallica fan. We'll add it to "Honorable mentions"

  • Sachinkadam