The 10 best concerts ever, or not…
We all love top lists, don’t we? Especially when it comes to music. The charts, the top of the year, the decade, the century… EVER!
Classics or living legends?
At Gigit, we definitely are a bunch of top list nerds (not to be confused with topless nerds). We stopped counting the (drunken) discussions we’ve had over the years about what we think the best gigs ever were. Is it a given that the top 10 will be filled with only classic (rock) bands? Or is the past overrated? And what about the gigs you’ve been to yourself? Nothing beats the live experience of being there, so is it even possible to compare these personal experiences with “the legendary” shows that happened way before you were born?
Let’s grab a beer and start the discussion…
Here we go, a top 10 that we at Gigit don’t even agree on.
10. Arcade Fire - Best Kept Secret Festival, 2017
Photo by Koen Keppens
When? 17th June 2017
Where? Best Kept Secret Festival. Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands
Can a gig from 2017 compete with revolutionary concerts from the early days? Of course! When Arcade Fire are on fire, it’s on! From the visuals to their outfits, and obviously their remarkable sound, everything about these Canadian indie rockers was perfect that night. And all the while the sun was setting at the waterfront of one of the most beautiful festival fields in Europe. Who said a concert from 2017 can’t be in the list?
9. Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne Tour, 2012
Where? Paris, France
The hip hop entrepreneur and the rap rebel together on tour. Jay-Z and Kanye West know how to throw a party with this greatest hits show of two living legends. Their hit single N*ggas in Paris “gets the people going”. And they know it. Every show of the tour ended with the song being performed multiple times in a row. With the absurd record of 11 times for almost 50 minutes straight, in...where else? Paris, of course. Taking an honourable second place: Vancouver with 10 times. See it for yourself in this video (though, seriously, why would you film this for 45 minutes?! You’re missing out on the party!)
8. Daft Punk - Alive at Coachella, 2006
Photo: Magnetic Magazine
When? 29th April, 2006
Where? Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Empire Polo Club, Indio, California
Want to have an all night pub discussion with your guitar playing friends? Tell them your all time favourite concert was a DJ gig.
Is it really a live performance? Or do they only “hit play” (according to Deadmau5). One thing is certain, nobody had this discussion on the 29th April 2006 when Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, a.k.a. Daft Punk, hit the stage at Coachella Festival. With a dazzling show these space invaders changed the world of electronic music concerts forever.
7. Prince - Sziget Festival, 2011
Photo: Silvio Severino
When? 9th August, 2011
Where? Sziget Festival, Óbudai-sziget, Budapest, Hungary
Yes, we millennials know that we “should” like Prince. Yeah yeah, he was an iconic musician, etcetera. But, wasn’t he just one of these artists that should have retired ages ago?
As soon as he hits the stage at the Sziget Festival in 2011, the crowd that might have come to see Thirty Seconds To Mars that weekend, forgot that the man on stage could have been their dad. Dazzling, rocking, sexy… a true legend.
6. Foo Fighters - Hyde Park, 2006
Photo: Tony Woolliscroft
When? 17th June 2006
Where? Hyde Park, London, UK
They might not be the hardest rocking band on their albums, but go and see them live. Natural born frontman nice-guy-Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters rock, hard. Especially this particular night in 2006. Not only the radio friendly Foo Fighters’ hits pass by, also Grohl’s heavy metal side project Probot comes along (is it really…? Yes, that’s Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister on stage!) And just when you think these 85,000 people were only shouting ‘we want more’ to hear Everlong, drummer Taylor Hawkins “does a Freddie” (heeeey-oo) and introduces two special guests for the encore: Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May. Mic. Drop.
5. Beyonce - Formation World Tour, 2016
When? Any random night in 2016, it’s too damn perfect every time
Is it possible to be a legend when you are still alive, don’t have a criminal record, no past of drug abuse, are happily married, never have an off-night… actually being too damn annoyingly perfect? Yes you can. We might miss a few legendary artists of the 60s, 70s and 80s in this list, but we can’t ignore the spectacular world tour of this millennial icon… the Mother Teresa of pop music: Beyonce!
4. David Bowie - Santa Monica, 1972
When? 20th October 1972
Where? Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California
Davy Jones. No, not the singer of The Monkees, but the legendary artist also known as Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Jareth the Goblin King, or just Bowie. David Bowie. From his revolutionary breakthrough with Space Oddity to the last painful notes of Black Star, Bowie was a true artist. It’s not possible to choose the best concert of an artist with such a rich history of live performances. But let’s just tell ourselves that it was the 1972 Santa Monica concert. Just because we can pretend we were there when listening to its recording, released as a live album in 1994.
3. Led Zeppelin - Royal Albert Hall, 1970
When? 9th January 1970
Where? Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
One singer, one guitarist, one bass player and a drummer. Classic. Rock.
In 1970 Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham celebrated Jimmy’s 26th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall. “At the time the largest and most prestigious gig”, according to the birthday boy himself. Only two years after their first gig (as a band called “The New Yardbirds”) they gave rock history one of the most legendary two-and-a-half-hours of all time.
2. Radiohead - Glastonbury Festival, 1997
When? 28th June 1997
Where? Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Pilton, UK
Bad English weather, failing equipment, blown up monitors, and a frontman that is about to walk off-stage. Sometimes the worst situations end up being the most legendary moments in history. Radiohead’s Glastonbury gig was one of those. “This should be a heaven but was like a kind of hell’,” according to guitarist Ed O’Brien. Frontman Thom Yorke added: “I thundered offstage at the end, really ready to kill.” Nevertheless, they hypnotised 100,000 people with new classics like Karma Police and Paranoid Android, not even two weeks after the release of their most celebrated album ‘OK Computer’. How a gig from hell became an historical concert...
1. Queen - Wembley, 1986
When? 12th July 1986
Where? Wembley Stadium, London, UK
Exactly 365 days after their world famous Live Aid gig, Queen returns to Wembley Stadium. Why this concert is better than the Live Aid one? Simple. Because it’s longer. A full-length rock show instead of a 20 minute TV gig. From the first chord of One Vision to the last euphoric singalong of We Are The Champions; Freddie, Bryan, Roger and John show London who the best live band in the world is. Who would have expected that not even a month later they would play their last concert ever…
Who do you think should be on this list?
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