Top 10 Live Performances


5. Nirvana – Reading Festival (1992)

This concert, quite conveniently for someone my age, is available in all its painfully seminal glory on DVD nowadays. I advise that you get hold of it, as it shows quite possibly the most influential band of the past 20 years at their absolute best. Appearing at the festival in 1991, they returned as headliners a year later- much to the joy of British adolescents. Although sceptical about their abilities to carry out the historic task in question, the trio smashed the place apart with a fruitful and relentless set list.

 

4. The Who – Isle of Wight Festival (1970)

Whilst on tour in support of their acclaimed rock opera ‘Tommy’, The Who made a legendary appearance at the Isle of Wight. On a bill that included the likes of Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and The Doors- the cockney power foursome brought the sonic drive needed to put the cherry on the cake. Performing aforementioned classic work in its entirety, as well as a host of classic tracks- the Keith Moon inclusive line-up had the huge crowd eating of their hands by the time they reached eccentric closer ‘Magic Bus’.

 

3. Led Zeppelin – Royal Albert Hall (1970)

It is my opinion that Led Zeppelin absolutely dominated 70’s rock music, and this gig was a warning for each and every one of their peers. Forming only 2 years previous to this iconic show, the band was playing as though they had been together for a decade. Displaying that characteristic open shirted charisma they became famous for and supplementing it with an awesome display of rock, blues and even at times folk influenced musicianship, this gig is a milestone. Of the 8 dates which constituted this UK tour, they only filmed this one (as far as I know anyway). Had they all been filmed, I’m sure either of them could be on this list.

 

2. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison (1968)

Since releasing early hit ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ in 1955, JC had maintained an interest in the subject- never ceasing on his ambition to one day play a gig for the inmates incarcerated there. In 1968 he was just emerging from a particularly destructive bout of substance abuse, and was ready to retake his place among an ever modernising group of prime songwriters and musicians. Performing alongside June Carter, Carl Perkins and his famous Tennessee Three- Johnny proved he still had it at a time most important. The eventual album was a hit in his native US, reaching number one in the country charts and re-establishing Cash’s previously tarnished popularity and credit within the industry.

 

1. Jimi Hendrix – Woodstock (1969)

This concert may just have epitomized a generation. Not just any generation either, but the generation that pushed and twisted music into something unrecognizable to its former self, the 60’s. Commonly referenced towards as marking the true end of the 1960’s, Woodstock was in itself a historic event. Whilst Jimi was far from being the exclusive highlight of a festival I can barely comprehend- he did close out the event. Due to go on at 3am, various logistical errors kept him from the stage until around 8am. This was on a Monday morning, the morning after the final day of the festival. As a result, many of the hundreds of thousands of revellers had already made their journey home, but those who stayed- were treated to an era defining performance. An astonishing excerpt of footage, the show is plentifully available to marvel over.

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