Aiming for a list of five, but I'm still no good at putting things in order.
  1. Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies) • Is there any live performance Arcade Fire's done that's bad? Love the way Win turns around his guitar and his very stoic expression and demeanor as the song opens, in stark contrast to the band going nuts around him. Just a powerhouse of a thing.
  2. Feist - 1234 • I remember falling in love with this song and watching Letterman specifically so I could see the performance. It's a bit different from the recorded version, but that choir of friends (including members of Grizzly Bear, The National, and Broken Social Scene, to name a few) gives me goosebumps every time with their harmonizing. And those glittery American Apparel-Essie armbands, a nod to the music video.
  3. The Orwells - Who Needs You • This performance is somewhat infamous for the lead singer's mid-song floor writhing and Paul Shaffer's subsequent mocking of it (which I thought was a bit of a douche move; I mean, a band's gonna perform the way a band performs — it's not a sign of disrespect to be kooky, especially if you're more in the punk scene). I dig the song and I dig that this is a unique live rendition. The disregard for the standard way of doing things on stage fits the lyrics well.
  4. Phoenix - 1901 • I love how the lead singer drops the mic and that Letterman asks the drummer if he's going to be okay after all that frenzied, high energy playing. Great performance; damn near sounds like the recorded version.
  5. Fiona Apple - Criminal • I believe this was recorded just a day before the iconic "This world is bullshit" speech (correct me if I'm wrong). Love, love the playful, theatrical nature of this performance. And, as always, Fiona's voice is awe-inspiring.