2016’s best live bands – as voted by team NME

Neon light shows, levitating stages, mosh pits, and lying on the floor: it's been a great year in live music.

In a year of so many huge musical moments, team NME looks back at the best live acts of the past twelve months. Which gigs stood out? Which shows will we never forget? And what were those standout moments that made us feel all tingly?



Why so good: Having just released the ‘Dog Man Star’ of their second era in ‘Night Thoughts’, the mighty Ser-way-ad would perform the new album in its opulent entirety from behind a screen showing Roger Sargent’s accompanying film, then shred the fourth wall with a second set of ‘Hits & Treats’, delivered with the melodic ferocity of a wolf attack on Lazarus.
Best moment: The encores often included sublime rarities like ‘To The Birds’ – real Suede fanatic catnip.

Mark Beaumont

Christine & The Queens

Why so good? “You can be a tree if you want,” Héloïse Letissier aka Christine & The Queens tells the crowd, turning any gig into a ‘free space’. Her character is a celebration of gender and sexual fluidity, her music can’t be contained by genre and her impeccably choreographed live show proves that shape-shifting is indeed possible. A joy to behold, we can’t wait to see what she does next – whatever the hell that is.
Best moment? The sound of a capacity crowd attempting the French rap on ‘Tilted’.

Andrew Trendell.



Why so good? Flitting between avant-garde glam pop to dubstep breakdowns, pinning Happy Meal’s sound down is nigh-impossible – but their chaotic, sweaty and utterly baffling shows are a thrilling experience.
Best moment? Their bombastic stomper ‘Stained’ opened up a floor-encompassing and sweaty moshpit for all to join.

Thomas Smith


Iggy Pop

Why so good? ‘Post Pop Depression’ was not a dinosaur clinging to his legacy – it was a record that needed to be made. While live, Iggy’s sex-lizard presence and canon of classics would have been enough, the energy of a man living very much in the now as he writhed against the friction of the combined charisma of Joshe Homme and Matt Helders made for an experience that was only ever going to be the live even of the year.
Best moment? Homme QOTSA-ifying ‘Lust For Life’ or the Bowie love-in on ‘China Girl’.

Andrew Trendell

LCD Soundsystem

Why so good? In spite of the damning Brexit result, Murphy and co’s Other Stage set at Glastonbury in the pouring rain was the beautiful and emotional release that was sorely needed come Sunday evening.
Best moment Set closer ‘All My Friends’ was a majestic and heart-warming finale for the pulsating headline show.

Tom Smith

Kanye West

Why so good? Kanye West’s Saint Pablo tour was unlike anything else in 2016. Performing on a suspended platform that traveled across the venue – alongside an stunning light show that looked like aliens were coming into the land, it was at once stripped back and the most epic rock’n’roll production of the decade.
Best moment? Watching the lit-up crowd below the platform, moshing as hard as they could.

Leonie Cooper

The 1975

Why so good? ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ strikes that perfect balance of crazy energy, and slow, considered storytelling, so the pace of their live shows was frenetic and mad. Plus that light show made for some of the best music photography of the year.
Best moment: Matty Healy’s sexy dance moves.

Helen Thomas



Lauren Mayberry performing with Chvrches

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