Oasis. Where: Maine Road, Manchester When: April 27, 1996 Why it was great: The gig meant a great deal on a personal level to Noel and Liam, who had dreamed of playing at their beloved city since they were kids. Also, at the time, Oasis were the most volatile, unpredictable, dangerous and brilliant rock’n’roll band on the planet.
Arctic Monkeys. Where: Sheffield Boardwalk When: May 26, 2005 Why it was great: They were still unsigned but were about to self-release ‘Five Minutes With…’. That night marked the point where Sheffield could no longer contain its prodigal sons; the secret was out. Every song sounded like the classic it was soon to become.
Queen. Where: Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, London When: July 13, 1985 Why it was great: It was one of those gigs where you can literally pause it at any random moment and be left with a powerfully iconic image in your hands. This was stadium rock perfected by Queen’s extroverted frontman, the last true master of the medium.
Radiohead. Where: Glastonbury Festival When: June 28, 1997 Why it was great: It’s considered by many to be the greatest headline set in Glastonbury’s distinguished history. NME‘s Sylvia Patterson had written: “Radiohead instantly show up the sheer-dropped gulf between smashing-bloke copyists and the evolutionary.”
Florence Welch. Where: SXSW, Austin, Texas When: March 20, 2008 Why it was great: Florence arrived sans Machine or record deal. In what would later become the earliest recorded example of that ‘inimitable Florence style’, a star was born. She also ended her set by diving into the hotel lobby’s waterfall to dance with her manager.
Blur. Where: Hyde Park, London When: July 2-3, 2009 Why it was great: These were arguably their pinnacle as a live band, and if their on-and-off studio potterings never come to a new album, it’s how they should be remembered: with Damon rolling around the stage in wild, punk-rock paroxysms and an exquisitely chosen, career-spinning setlist.
Hole. Where: Reading Festival When: August 26, 1994 Why it was great: Courney Love’s 1994 tour, a mere four months after losing her husband, was her doing what she did best: losing it publicly. Part primal scream therapy, part pained grunge eulogy, it was as messy, dissonant and destructively super-real as grunge was meant to be.
The Rolling Stones/Stevie Wonder. Where: Spectrum, Philadelphia When: July 20, 1972 Why it was great: Stevie was the opening act for what was arguably the Stones’ most decadent tour. Mick Jagger walked Stevie to the piano to kick off arguably the greatest onstage party ever.
Muse. Where: Wembley Stadium, London When: June 16, 2007 Why it was great: Until Muse brought the stage-wide dot matrix screens, robot roadies and laser blitzkriegs, the ‘stadium gig’ was fading into anachronism. But their Wembley shows brought the concept crashing, flashing and whiz-banging up to date.
Eminem. Where: Astoria, London When: November 3, 1999 Why it was great: Even today, it’s hard to argue that an on-form Eminem can’t dazzle. But there’s something very special about those early gigs. An incensed flash of trailer trash, fresh out of Detroit and wrestling with the creation of a demon by the name of Slim Shady.
Nirvana. Where: Reading Festival When: August 30, 1992 Why it was great: Kurt Cobain’s last visit to Reading proved explosive. Infused with a wild sense of mania, this set burnt grunge onto the zeitgeist’s retina in a magnesium flare of power and punk.
Primal Scream. Where: Glastonbury Festival When: June 26, 2005 Why it was great: By the end, a narky, stumbling Bobby Gillespie and his Scream Team had melted all their last chances. Frankly, the crowd would’ve preferred the entire Nazi Party high command doing a rendition of ‘Lili Marlene’, over 10 moew minuted of Gillespie’s Christ-like self-righteousness.
Rage Against The Machine. Where: Finsbury Park, London When: June 6, 2010 Why it was great: It wasn’t so much a rock show as a victory parade. We The People had thumbed our collective nose at the cynical degredation of the charts. This was a show that demonstrated people power so effectively. As the T-shirts proclaimed: “Rage 1, Cowell 0.”
Kings Of Leon. Where: Brixton Academy, London When: December 15, 2003 Why it was great: Battling sound issues as well as constant rumours that they were a manufactured boyband, KOL proved their authenticity by battering, frying and twizzling their country-rock into new shapes.
Michael Jackson. Where: Wembley Stadium, London When: July 16, 1988 Why it was great: Before all the sleepovers and dangling of blanket-covered babies, Jackson was the undisputed King Of Pop. In the summer of 1988, as the ‘Bad’ world tour hit Wembley, his fame was at its peak. He moonwalked his way through three hours of generation-defining classics.
Elastica. Where: Glastonbury Festival When: June 25, 2995 Why it was great: The crowd enjoyed Elastica’s set. But Antony Glenn appeared to be enjoying it the most. Having been – by his own admission – up for three days on E’s, LSD, heroin, cocaine and vodka, he interrupted the gig by stripping naked and jumping onstage. He then later joined the band as the keyboardist.
Johnny Cash. Where: Folsom State Prison, California When: January 13, 1968 Why it was great: Long before guerrilla gigs were invented, he was siring thrilling off-script performances. The shows were a chance to minister the men with music and allowed Cash to burnish the outlaw credentials he craved.
The Jesus And Mary Chain. Where: North London Polytechnic, London When: March 15, 1985 Why it was great: It was the culmination of all they promised to be: a sublimely chaotic mess that bordered on the obscene but was utterly compelling. The combination of no venue security, high praise in music weeklies and hostile support acts meant the crowd was baying for blood.
The Who. Where: Woodstock When: August 16, 1969 Why it was great: Having argued with Hendrix and been spiked with acid, by the time The Who went onstage at 5am they were in a right arse. The aggression that made them sensational live was never so thrilling as it was when placed against this peace and love backdrop.