Top 5 Live Rock Performances


hunter60
Humble student
Joined: 06/12/05
Posts: 1,579
hunter60
Humble student
Joined: 06/12/05
Posts: 1,579
05/17/2012 9:12 pm
[U]Top 5 Live Rock Performances [/U]



I feel the need to place a small caveat on this article before jumping in. Lists, unless they are based on something measurable (like dollars earned or number of people who were there) are nothing more than just an opinion of the person making the list No doubt that there are going to be countless other live performances that should be included on this list and by not including them, I am certainly not ignoring them or deriding their importance. I have no doubts that there are literally thousands upon thousands of stellar performances out there with even more to come. With that said, here are what I consider to be the top 5 live rock performances.

5) The Beatles at Shea Stadium on August 15th, 1965

Okay, so why? The sound was horrid, the band was placed on a small stage out near the dividing line between the infield and center field. The fans were kept corralled (for the most part anyway) to the seats that were quite a distance from the band. (Think about the last time you were at a baseball game before they built these little boutique ballparks. Now imagine John, Paul, George and Ringo standing at second base playing and singing into the parks PA system. You get the idea.) It wasn’t the show itself as much as what was going on around it. The Beatles were playing to 55,600 adoring, screaming and yes, sometimes fainting, fans for 30 minutes (that’s right – a 30 minute set). The sound was so poor, the band could not hear themselves play and yet this concert marked the start of something to come. It was proving that rock and roll had become something more than just jukebox and sock hop tunes. Four young men were being escalated into bona fide rock and roll stars. Ferried to the show by helicopter and armored car and whisked out immediately following their set, the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium proved the vitality of giant outdoor concerts and set the stage for what was to come not long afterwards.

4) The Band – the Last Waltz, Thanksgiving Day, 1976

Calm down and shoulder your weapons. I include The Last Waltz on the list for a couple of reasons. First because it truly captures a moment in time, an audio snapshot as it were. It was The Bands final show, at least with their original powerhouse lineup. Sure, some critics have said that it was seen more as concert and subsequent film about Robbie Robertson and there may be some truth to that I suppose, the fact that The Last Waltz really captured the overall feel of the 70’s roots music scene. Secondly, it was filmed by Martin Scorsese. Seriously, that alone makes it worthwhile (at least as a film). Third, all I can say is Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Ronnie Wood, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Yep. And finally, the egos that were sharing that stage that night. When Neil Diamond (I know, it was an odd thing to have Diamond playing that night but considering that Robertson had produced Diamonds new album, it was more marketing than anything else), he brushed past Bob Dylan and said “Go ahead, follow that…” A nonplussed Dylan simply said “What do I have to do, go on stage and fall asleep?” The Last Waltz was quite the show. And they actually fed their audience a complete Thanksgiving dinner.

3) The Allman Brothers – Live At The Fillmore East, March 12th and 13th, 1971

Recorded over two nights, Live At The Fillmore East is still considered by many to be the best live album ever recorded. With dueling guitarists Dickie Betts and the late Duane Allman traded licks so easily as if they were working on the same wavelength. The Allman Brothers have been around forever and there have been lineup changes but it was this incarnation of the band that will forever be locked into the musical landscape. A fluid and easy amalgam of jazz, blues and rock, this concert had it all. Just turn down the lights, turn up the volume to ‘ear bleed’ level (and then back it off slightly) and drift away to ‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed’ and ‘Whipping Post’ and you’ll be hard pressed not to agree that this is a tremendous live performance. The stuff of legend.

2) Nirvana – Unplugged sessions, November 18th, 1993

Kurt Cobain and the other members of Nirvana had been asked repeatedly to do an ‘Unplugged’ for MTV and had continuously refused. According to Dave Grohl, the band had seen several of the other ‘unplugged’ performances and didn’t care for them. They saw it as a chance for bands to simply play their hits in an acoustic setting and that was something the band was unwilling to do. But eventually Cobain relented and through near-constant negotiations, eventually agreed to do the session. One of Kurt’s demands was that the set be ‘dressed’ simply with lilies, candles and a chandelier. When told that the set would look like a funeral, Cobain remarked “Exactly, like a funeral’. Talk about a little foreshadowing. The band essentially refused to do their hits, opting only to perform ‘Come As You Are’. The rest of the set was made up of lesser known songs and covers. Done in one take, the session ended with one of the most haunting versions of Lead Belly’s ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” ever recorded. It simply drips with pain and angst. Cobain refused to do an encore feeling that there was no way he could top that performance. Considering the tragic events that would follow only a few months later, the recording became even that much more poignant. The recording was eventually released by the surviving members of Nirvana, debuted at number 1 and eventually went on to sell over 5 million copies.

1) Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, August 18th, 1969

Big surprise? Not really. When Hendrix took the stage at 8:00 AM on Monday morning, most of the 400,000 that had packed the mud soaked fields for three days of Peace, Love and Music (although from the shaky and somewhat spotty memories of those who were actually there it should have been titled three days of Drugs, Drugs and some more Drugs with some Music in there too) had bailed. A few stalwarts who did stay (including the cleanup crew) were treated to one of the most explosive sets of the entire festival and rock and roll in general up to that point. At that time, The Experience, his band during his heyday had disbanded a few months before and The Gypsy’s were still a few months away. The band that backed him up that morning was essentially a pick up crew that had not really gotten into that Hendrix groove yet. But despite that minor hardship, Hendrix blasted his way through a set that included a few blues covers, a few hits (including Purple Haze and Foxy Lady) as well as a few improvisational jams. But his screaming rendition of the Star Spangled Banner won the day. Its pyro techniques will forever be etched into rock and roll legend. It was a sirens song to the idealism of the 60’s and was a wail welcoming in the cynicism of the coming decade. And, well, it just plain rocks.

Okay, so that’s my list. But there are several others that should be noted: Just about any show by Pink Floyd (Remember the giant inflatable pig or the Wall crashing down?) Springsteen, Z.Z. Top, The Who, Queen, The Sex Pistols, early Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, early Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Zeppelin …. You get the point. Just about any band on any given night can give the performance of a lifetime. But it’s rare when everything comes together and you get one of those shows that stand the test of time. That’s the fun part. You just never know when they are going to happen.
[FONT=Tahoma]"All I can do is be me ... whoever that is". Bob Dylan [/FONT]
# 1
kujolinhos
Registered User
Joined: 11/26/11
Posts: 2
kujolinhos
Registered User
Joined: 11/26/11
Posts: 2
05/18/2012 5:01 pm
Really good choices. i would throw out a couple more: Stones NYC 1969, or just about any location 1972.
# 2
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
05/18/2012 6:29 pm
I am glad you mentioned a few bands at the end. I would like to say Queen Thanksgiving Night in 77 and The Stones Steel Wheels in 89 were two of my favorites. I saw both bands four times however they were probably my two all time favorite one band concerts. I was at Live Aid in 85.
# 3
bytecreek
Registered User
Joined: 08/15/09
Posts: 2
bytecreek
Registered User
Joined: 08/15/09
Posts: 2
05/18/2012 7:55 pm
I would suggest the greatest Peter Frampton ever to enter this list.
Also, more recently, Joe Satriani in Paris (now a Live Record) is considered by me as one instant classic.

Rock on!
# 4
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
05/19/2012 10:46 am
I never disagree with lists like this because these are great concerts. So, I've always split it out to my own personal list cuz, really, that's what it is...an opinion and all are valid...and this list posted is a great list!

I would say mine is (not in order):

Kiss-Alive I - Really launched the career of one of the biggest bands in the world

Peter Frampton-Comes Alive - Changes how the music business worked due to its sheer volume sold

Johnny Cash-Live at Folsom Prison - First; don't was all wish we were a cool as him? Also, it was a seminal show and remade his career.

Led Zeppelin-Song Remains the Same - Not sure I need to explain this one....

Lynyrd Skynyrd-One More from the Road-A great rock-n-roll record and gave us the long(er) form version of Freebird.
# 5
tater salad
Registered User
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 1
tater salad
Registered User
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 1
05/19/2012 12:45 pm
All good stuff, as a player who started in the 80"s, the live Randy Rhodes tribute album was a spectacular snapshot of his killer sound. Also, don't forget Rush, Exit Stage left, it's amazing.
# 6
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
05/19/2012 7:54 pm
Hey you guys named albums which is cool. I thought the article was about performances. With that said I really, really dug, Frampton's 35 anniversary Comes Alive concert I saw at the Tower theater in Philadelphia in February. Definitely a great three hour concert. Look for it ( not that specific show) on dvd.
# 7
nanselmus
Registered User
Joined: 12/30/11
Posts: 52
nanselmus
Registered User
Joined: 12/30/11
Posts: 52
05/19/2012 7:59 pm
My vote is for BB King live at Indiana University, Bloomington around 1978.
Others to follow after I take this snooze.
# 8

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.