Top 10 Live Performances

Out of the many millions of truly breath taking musical performances that have occurred over the decades, or even centuries- picking a mere 10 as highlights is, I can assure- not straight forward. Of course any list constructed by a mere mortal such as myself will always bare the brand of their personal musical preferences, this one is no exception.


10. Queen – Wembley Stadium (1986)

Following their triumphant (there is no other word to describe Queen in my opinion) performance at Wembley a year previously as part of ‘Live Aid’- the band announced their own headline show as part of the ‘Magic’ tour in July 86’. The events that occurred that day fastened Queen onto their pedestal as a major force in rock and roll history. Performing a mammoth 28 song set, you can witness it in all of its glory now on DVD. INXS, The Alarm and Status Quo opened the show- and tickets were a mere £14.50 ($23).


9. Sex Pistols – Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester (1976)

Commonly known as the gig that changed the direction of UK guitar music, the Sex Pistols debut gig in Manchester was only attended by around 40 people- but almost every one of them would go on to great things. 1976 was an unstable time for British society, unrest was in the air and there were more and more angry young men joining the ranks of the punk daily. At this gig alone there was Morrisey, who of course went on to form seminal group The Smiths, The Buzzcocks (who actually organised the show) and two of the members of Joy Division!


8. James Brown – Harlem Apollo Theater (1962)

Hailing from this particular area of New York City himself, James Brown funded and recorded this show at his own expense, much to the dismay of his record company- who could not see the eventual live album profiting as it did not feature any new material. The show, of course, was an absolute screamer- the album even more so. It spent 66 consecutive weeks in the Billboard chart- peaking at no.2.


7. Rolling Stones – Altamont (1969)

The Stones were at the height of their ridiculous amounts of fame and popularity by 1969, and to make amends for increasing criticism that ticket prices for that years North American tour were too costly- the band decided to round it off with this free event. A reported 300,000 people attended, including lots of hippies and also quite a few Hells Angels- who provided security for the proceedings. Yes, you read that correctly. The day soon descending into complete chaos with several people dying and scores being injured, still- what a performance.


6. The Beatles – Shea Stadium (1965)

Beatlemania spread Stateside with this legendary performance at New York’s Shea Stadium in the summer of 65’. The accompanying film released the following year documents the sheer hysteria which was all too familiar with the fab-four translating from their native England to the US. Although the band only played a 30 minute set, around 55,000 people were in attendance- making it the biggest show they had ever played up to that date. They crammed an incredible 12 songs into their set- creating an enthralling medley and securing their place on this list- I imagine they’re overjoyed…

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