Ever witnessed a live show so bumblowingly fantastic it not only gave you a fleeting jolt of exhilaration but actually stayed with you, inspired you, altered the course of your life? I put that question to NME’s Twitter and Facebook community – and it seems many of you have indeed experienced mind-engulfing, personality-shaping gigs – you can read some of the standout responses below. Just mouse over the faces to reveal the stories.
Seeing The Smiths at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia around 1985 during The Meat is Murder tour… Hearing Johnny Marr’s guitar was a religious experience and Morrissey’s bizarre stage antics during their ‘Still Ill’ encore was mesmerizing.
I’m an Aussie, booked tickets to see Blur at Hyde Park 2009 while still living in Australia. Sold all my furniture, packed up all my stuff, came here for the gig, never went back… and never will go back.
Portishead at Harvest Festival in Sydney last year. Made me realise how much preparation goes into one of their gigs, how talented they all are to recreate their music live, and that a set can just be about music. You don’t need a lot of banter with a crowd if your music speaks for you. Definitely life-changing.
MGMT’s first British gig. Label showcase at The Barfly. I snuck in. I never recovered. They buffeted onto the stage atop the almost visible stench of pot. Andrew had to hold himself up on his microphone stand and yet they were note perfect. Everything else disappeared. The execs, my girlfriend, the bar. It felt like it was just me, them, and the music. Afterwards, I went home and formed a band. I haven’t put my guitar down since.
Radiohead at Victoria Park ’08. By no means the gig of my life or theirs but it was the first time I’d seen them post Kid A. It made me think that other bands should really start trying harder. Game changer.
Definitely seeing The Kills live. They weren’t my favourite band before, but after watching them live and seeing the way Alison Mosshart moves like a vixen across the stage in an indescribable way unless you’ve been to a show, they became my favourite band.
I’ve got to say seeing Blur live in Brixton as a warm up to their 2009 headline set at Glasto. Seeing them with such a small crowd made me realise the truth behind music. Damn Albarn and the band gave me my first experience of live music and one I will never forget.
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The Horrors. It was actually the time we spent with them afterwards that meant so much. My favourite band in the whole world. Truly one of the most talented. I’m glad for me that most people have not heard of them here in the states. But I’m not glad for them. I think if I heard them on the radio all the time, the greatness would lessen.
Thin Lizzy, 1976, first ever gig. Rush’s gig in 1980 at Southampton – first band I saw that were perfection – so damn tight. U2 at 2 very small venues in 1981 and 1982 – the list is endless. Those were the days of leather and denim/denim and leather – no poncy fashion items.
Arcade Fire in Copenhagen, 2011. After that concert I suddenly became more aware of the world around me and everything seemed so beautiful and clear. Seeing ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ live was the best moment of my life so far.
Biffy Clyro at the Swindon Oasis on the 8th June this year. Queued for 7 hours in the rain to be at the front but the other fans were really friendly and nice. I made some good friends that I still keep in contact with. Stayed behind after to meet them and they’re such nice guys 😀
Seeing Chameleons’ Mark and the Sons of God at the Duchess of York in Leeds. 1988 I think. Total passion and commitment, and the reason why I (eventually) got up on stage myself.
Interpol at NME awards tour show in Portsmouth 2003. Libertines at Rythm Factory in White Chapel, Dec 2002, came on around 1am, played 2 songs and got thrown off stage, brilliant!
Interesting – if we are talking truly ‘life changing’ the only candidate is bizarrely Echobelly in Frankfurt, when I was 18. I was working out there, bored stiff, and went to this one gig in a tiny venue and loved it so much I went to see them in Stuttgart the next evening. And then got the gig bug.
The Jam Port Talbot Afan Lido 1982 – it was their final tour and I was only 14. First gig I’d ever been to and will always be the best. I have never experienced anything like the atmosphere or energy of that crowd. Made everything since then feel as if it lacked something.
Oasis ‘There and Then’, Maine Road, 1996. I was 12 and it was the fist gig I ever went to. My best mate and I were sandwiched between my Mum and Dad! What a gig to have as the first. At their team’s football ground! Remember Liam swaggering around stage in his Umbro jumper and Noel’s Brit flag guitar like it was last week!
Stereophonics at Morfa Stadium in 1999. Me and my mate jacked in our jobs to sail to Cornwall in a boat to watch the eclipse with some people we met at the gig. Our little adventure culminated in a job in a record shop where I met a fellow musician and we started a band of our own. #lifechanging
Arctic Monkeys – January 2005, the week they released ‘Scummy Man’ and the album in Glasgow for NME tour. Probably the first time I realised a gig wasn’t just stood watching a band in an arena. Amazing.
Queen at Live Aid and Nina Simone in the early nineties! Not her prime but still utterly amazing! Proper singer with true emotion!
The Last Shadow Puppets 2008 at Circus, Stockholm! It was the first time I saw Alex and it started an endless row of going to gigs and festivals abroad and only because none of the bands would never come to my home city, Helsinki!
The one that stands out for me is the Stone Roses, Barcelona this year. Me and the hubby casually wandered over to the venue the day before (just to get our bearings). Only to end up seeing John Squire casually sat on the steps outside. We talked to him for 10 mins, then out comes Mani, followed shortly after by Ian Brown. Had to pinch ourselves. Me, the hub and 3 members of the Roses chatting away. Reni drumming inside.
Bad Brains at Iguana’s in TJ 1989. A 3 level club, I was in line to get in and heard the crack of the drums, bass, and guitar lead into that infamous ripping drum beat of ‘Re-Ignition’. Walking into the club I could see kids jumping from the 2nd and 3rd balconies into the pit below, completely surreal. I have never seen or heard anything like this before or since.
Plan B, White Chaple, The George Tavern. There was about 150 people there, it was about 4 years back now, but I loved Plan B before that, not many people knew him then, I guess you would say he was an underground artist. Needless to say, Plan B has been the biggest musical love of my life. It’s not often that an artist is as well rounded a character and it shows in everything Ben touches.
Two Door Cinema Club, June 2012, Ritz Ybor, Tampa. It was my first gig ever and my favourite band. I arrived 2 hours early, made it to the second row, and stayed after and met all the band members. Everyone around me, including me, knew all the words to every song and it was magical. May seem silly, but DEFINITELY life changing.
Definitely Radiohead! When Thom started singing and dancing on the stage (and Jonny started playing the guitar), it was the first time I realised how live music could give a person goosebumps. I love that feeling so much!
Peter Gabriel – Nov 8, 1982 Security Tour – Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens – my first concert. I’ve never forgotten it and everything has paled in comparison. Still remember the set list in order. He opened with ‘The Rhythm Of The Heat’, where a line of tribal drummers led him out from one of the corners of the arena. The energy was out of this world, and I had goosebumps from the first beat to the last note. Gabriel is pure genius.
Pink Floyd – Earls Court 1994, impossibly good, every single aspect of that show was perfectly crafted. No-one has a right to be THAT good!
The Maccabees at the UEA, 14th March 2012. As well as the gig being incredible, I managed to have a chat with Orlando Weeks and grab one of their plectrums. One of the best nights of my life!
Green Day live at Reading, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get there early not knowing when they were playing, we got there at 10:50, ten minutes before they started playing, it was a shock but as soon as Billie Joe, Mike, Tre and Jason ran on stage to play ‘Welcome To Paradise’, the place lit up and it was the best gig I’ve ever gone to. Billie Joe is the best frontman ever!
Radiohead, May 29th of this year. Waited hours outside to get on the front row and had a mind blowing 20,000 people behind me and my favourite band mere feet from me. The stage setup with the floating screens made everything feel like a dream. I honestly walked away from that gig feeling reborn. Greatest night of my life.
Placebo at the Liverpool Empire, sometime in late 2000. Painfully packed with an audience of lunatics, we all became one right from the start. Top moment: couple of girls went topless in a blink of an eye upon hearing the intro bass line to ‘Allergic’.
When ‘The Boss’ strolled onto Irish shores this summer, it didn’t change my life, but it certainly made my Mother’s! An unusual sunny evening in Dublin and the added bonus of pit passes from two charming roadies on the walk up to the RDS. A day to never forget.
Spiritualized’s acoustic set on the 15th July 2007 in Victoria park Glasgow, as part of the Indian Summer festival. I had never seen them live, nor paid much attention to Steve Pierce until then. Standing in the grass on a first date, cider in hand when Steve begins to pound his piano and singing vivid words. In mere moments the sound of Spiritualized was self-defining, listening to “all i want in life is a little bit of love to take the pain away” it made you think of nothing else but Spiritualized.
Foo Fighters headlining the last day of Reading 2012. We fended off the drunk guys behind us and danced harder than I’ve ever danced before for the whole 2.5 hours, but the best bit was when my friend put me on her shoulders during ‘The Pretender’. I’d never done that before and when 90,000 people are screaming the lyrics along with you it’s something you’ll never forget, ever.
Oasis’ 10 Years Of Noise And Confusion tour, 2000, Apollo in Manchester. First gig I ever went to. Such a small venue for such a big band. Absolutely amazing gig, I’d loved oasis since I first heard ‘Roll With It’, and quickly found ‘Definitely Maybe’, going to the gig confirmed to me they were, and still are, the best band Britain has produced since the Beatles. Take a bow Liam and Noel, you lived the dream!
The first time I saw Depeche Mode was out of this world. It was the Devotional tour ’93. Dave was in the throws of heroin addiction and it was the last tour with Alan still in the band. But it was pure class. I still watch that DVD to this day
The Killers and their warm up for ‘Sam’s Town’, Wolverhampton Civic, West Mids, UK. I was blown away by the sheer intamacy of the venue (standing room of 3000) and was only a stones throw away from Brandon. Not only that, but I caught them making their way back onto the tour bus. Good times!
I’ve seen many gigs over the years but none where an audience has been so captivated into stunned silence than when I watched Bon Iver at the MEN. It actually looked eerie seeing a full arena all facing forward so struck by what was before them. Stunning performance by the way.
Muse on the 4th November 2009 at Sheffield Arena. I’d seen a live performance on TV the previous week and despite liking Muse for years, that made me love them. I came home from school on the day of the gig (I was 16 at the time) and my Mum had got me tickets to it as a surprise. Since then I have seen them 4 more times and my whole family have been converted. It seems to be a family tradition to go and see Muse now!
U2 at The Coliseum in Los Angeles during their Joshua Tree tour in 1987. They dressed up as a country band named The Dalton Brothers and came out and did a couple of country tunes and the audience was none the wiser. I’ll never forget the feeling of 80,000 people singing ’40’ while exiting the venue. The hairs stood up on my neck and I lost my voice from screaming so much. It was my first concert as a religious experience and I was hooked!
Mott The Hoople at the Hammersmith Apollo in October 2009. The first of the reunion gigs. Ian Hunter may have been 70, but was still the coolest man in the place. The band rocked the place like you wouldn’t have known it was over 35 years since they’d last played together. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when ‘Buffin’ came on to play the drums on the encore for ‘Roll Away The Stone’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’. And the sight and sound of 5000 sea divers singing the ‘Goodbye’ refrain on Saturday Gigs will live with me for the rest of my life – awesome!
Prince, Melbourne 2004 – I’ve been a huge fan since 1980! Just to see that amazing man live on stage, hear the deafening roar of the crowd and be caught up in the excitement of an arena of people leaping to their feet and having a dance party en masse was a mind-blowing experience. Some of the songs I hadn’t actively listened to since I was a teenager but I remembered all the words just like it was yesterday.
Radiohead, Jisan Valley Rock Festival, Korea, July 2012. So amazing! It was arranged in the timetable that they would play for 90 mins but they played for about 130 mins including two encores. How generous! Fans from Korea were thirsty for them because they had never been in Korea before, so if they had played for 90 mins we would have felt sad and still have a thirst. So I was impressed by how they treated their show and fans and still remember their great performance.
I have seen gigs all around Europe due to the fact that not a lot of artists come to Rome and everywhere you go it’s vastly different but always magical. You become one with the music and with the crowd. Everyone is there for the same reason and it’s difficult to find a similar sensation than screaming some of your favourite lyrics at the top of your lungs with sometimes thousands of people while the music runs through your veins and sends shivers down your spine. Seeing Blur, Radiohead, Florence And The Machine, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane, The Balck Keys, Sigur Rós, Kasabian and many more; going to Reading, the Main Square Festival and Rock En Seine is something I’ll never forget. I’ll treasure those emotions and hopefully experience many more.
The gig that literally changed my life was The Barfly, Camden, 27 May 2011, where Vintage Trouble played for a solid two hours. The room was jumping with the sound, energy and joy that the lead singer, Ty Taylor, brings to each gig he fronts, the incredible guitar of Nalle Colt, awesome in the truest sense of the word, bass of Rick Barrio Dill, and powerhouse drumming of Richard Danielson. I made more friends, met up with old ones, and that’s led to a wonderful experience of being a fan, called “Troublemakers”, and it’s been amazing ever since.
Guy Forsyth at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, MO. Small 50 seat backroom gig. Not only did he put on an amazing show, but he was quite possibly the nicest, most genuine performer I’ve ever met. During break he went outside, and a bunch of us fans went out to have a smoke. I asked him some harmonica questions, and he personally chatted with me for 10 minutes before the sound guy came out and said, “So, I hear there is a Guy Forsyth show going on”.
Radiohead in Coachella 2012! Travelled all the way from the Philippines, couch-surfed and survived the scorching Coachella dessert! Thank you Radiohead, it was just perfection!
Radiohead at Sydney Entertainment Center Feb 4th, 1998 – Ok Computer Tour. I was 13 and loved them since I was 7. Second song in they played ‘Talk Show Host’. The soundscape was amazing coupled with great lighting.
Portishead 2012 Southside Festival. It rained cats and dogs as they started to play, and damn… the pain in the music kind of made you forget the rain, but at the same time the rain made the pain more intense.