One of my favorite hypothetical questions is, “If you had a time machine, what live performance would you most want to see? After you’ve finished killing baby Hitler, of course.”
Many of your favorite artists were also great performers, and even if that performance was captured on film or on vinyl, it’s not the same as being there. I would want to see James Brown rocking the house in the early ’70s for the same reason I’d want to see Shakespeare act in one of his own plays at the Globe Theater: Because I love seeing a genius at work.
It’s too late for me to see James Brown performing live in his prime, but we can hear it—the man left us a pile of kickass live records. Here’s a good one: Love Power Peace: Live At The Olympia, Paris, 1971. This, and all three of his Live At The Apollo albums, will tide me over until I’m done building my time machine.