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22 gigs in bizarre locations

  • Muse have always talked in vague terms about playing a gig in space, but no-one really believed them - until now. "It's for real," Matt Bellamy told The Sun, explaining that the band had been in touch with Virgin Galactic about a future space adventure.

    Photo: Danny North/NME

    Added: 06 Jan 2011

  • Around the time 'Icky Thump' came out, The White Stripes played an acoustic set at the Royal Chelsea Hospital for the benefit of retired soldiers (aka Chelsea pensioners). Most of the old folks were pretty baffled by Jack White's yelping. But hey, at least their outfits matched.

    Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Similarly, one of The Libertines' early guerrilla gigs took place in an old people's home in Camden in 1999. You can imagine the scene - a bunch of confused, overly-medicated throwbacks, the stale whiff of urine... and some OAPs looking on.

    Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • These days if you found Razorlight on your roof you'd call the police, but back in 2004 it was regarded as something of an event. To celebrate the release of their debut album 'Up All Night' the band played on top of the Bricklayers' Arms pub in east London. You know, just like The Beatles in 1969. Only infinitely less impressive.

    Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • The Cabinet War Rooms, beneath the streets of Whitehall, were where Winston Churchill plotted Britain's victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Sixty years later they played host to something equally historic: a Kasabian gig. Churchill himself would have been appalled (he'd have been more of a Kaiser Chiefs fan).

    Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Which marketing gonk thought this one up? In May 2010 London ska-punks The King Blues - in association with Macbeth Shoes - played a special stinky gig in the sewer system underneath Brighton Pier. Their career followed them down the toilet shortly afterwards.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 05 Jan 2011

  • On June 13, 1978, rockabilly livewires The Cramps entered the recreation room of the Napa State Mental Hospital to play for the residents. For years the performance was a sacred bootleg, but it's now available on DVD, and worth watching. "Someone told me you people were crazy," Lux Interior tells the assembled patients at one point. "But I'm not too sure about that."

    Photo: Rex

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Slap bass at 35,000 ft? It might sound like an appalling nightmare, but it really happened. In 2007, Jamiroquai played a gig on a Boeing 757 to promote their 'High Times' hits compilation. For years it was the highest altitude gig ever - until James Blunt performed at 41,000 ft in 2010. The irony: Jay Kay bested by the only man in Britain more annoying than himself.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 05 Jan 2011

  • No stranger to laboured drug metaphors - they've built a career on them - in 1997 Spiritualized played a show on the 144th floor of Toronto's CN Tower, purely so they could say they'd done the "highest gig ever." All that for a lame pun? Still, Jason Pierce later called it "the best show we've ever done. The building was moving 12 feet in either direction. We were literally floating in space.”

    Photo: Andy Fallon/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Some people accuse Richard Hawley of being a dour northerner. Well, he certainly proved those people wrong - by playing a gig in the dank and cheerless Devil's Arse cave in Castleton, Derbyshire on December 5, 2008. There probably wasn't much in the way of a moshpit.

    Photo: James Quinton/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • You've heard of Nunatak, haven't you? Yes you have. YES YOU HAVE. The five-piece band - made up of research scientists stationed in Antarctica - played a gig on the frozen continent as part of the Live Earth concerts, purely so organisers could say that all six continents had taken part. Hang on... garish trousers, conical red headgear... it's Devo!

    Photo: Pete Bucktrout/British Antarctic Survey

    Added: 05 Jan 2011

  • During their brief time in the sun, The Others played guerrilla gigs everywhere - on a Hammersmith and City Line tube train, on the dodgems at the Leeds festival, up a tree. At one point we were scared to lift the lid of the NME office dustbin, lest Dominic Masters was playing an impromptu set inside. If you see him playing a "guerrilla gig" in a tube station today, do chuck him a few pennies.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Katie Melua broke the world record for the deepest ever gig in 2006 when she played 303m beneath the North Sea, on an oil rig. Meanwhile, everyone on the surface was thinking, "303m? She could be lowered into the earth's molten inner mantle and it still wouldn't be far enough away from our ears."

    Photo: PA

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • British Sea Power? They bloody love playing gigs in weird places. They've toured such noted nightspots as the Scillonian Club on the Isles of Scilly, Grasmere Village Hall, the St. John Boste Social Club in Kendal - and, oddest of all, Carnglaze Caverns near Bodmin, Cornwall. Quite literally "the home of rock", as this picture demonstrates.

    Photo: Andy Fallon/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • OK, a TV studio in London doesn't count as an "unusual location", but even so, the Manics' appearance on Strictly Come Dancing - as a live band, not as contestants - was a supreme WTF moment, especially when they started playing 'Of Walking Abortion' and Nicky Wire openly waggled his cock at Bruce Forsyth. A real watercooler moment.

    Photo: BBC

    Added: 14 Dec 2010

  • Lucky is the Libs fan who got to witness the ultimate in guerrilla gigs - a performance in Pete Doherty's own flat (though admittedly it wasn't that rare an occurrence). Here he is doing a cover of Chas N' Dave's 'Sideboard Song in 2004. So intimate you can practically taste the vomit on the carpet.

    Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Air travel is fraught with irritations - long delays, officious security, the possibility of plunging to your death. But at least you can be fairly sure you won't be rapped at by a bellend... unless you happened to be on a Delta Airlines flight to New York last November. Unannounced, Kanye West took over the plane's intercom for a full half an hour, while passengers ground their teeth to dust.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • The Party At The Palace, held to mark the Queen's Jubilee in 2002, featured the cream of British musical talent at the time. And Atomic Kitten. The event kicked off with Queen's Brian May performing 'God Save The Queen' on the roof. Amazingly, that wasn't the cheesiest moment of the day. Ricky Martin also performed.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • On tour in Winnipeg in 2007, The White Stripes delighted onlookers by hopping on a city bus and playing an impromptu set. Well, we say "delighted". Most of them were probably commuters trying to read the paper in peace and might not have been too thrilled to have Jack White howling 'Hotel Yorba' in their faces. But still: a nice idea.

    Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • Nothing this cool ever happened in our school. In January 2007 Arcade Fire played a gig in the lunch hall of Ottawa's Canterbury High (where band member Richard Reed Parry had been a pupil), for an audience of 400-odd kids. We hope Win Butler and co stuck around for turkey twizzlers afterwards.

    Photo: James Quinton/NME

    Added: 04 Jan 2011

  • And of course - we couldn't get away without mentioning The Beatles' gig on the roof of Apple HQ on January 30, 1969, the daddy of all unusual gigs. Bet you wish you'd been there, right? Yes... except apparently it was freezing cold, the sound was shit, and no-one on the ground could see anything. So you didn't really miss much.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Jan 2011