There are a huge number of factors that go into delivering a great gig and only a very select few go on to become legendary. Here are five amazing performances that we feel rank amongst the greatest of all time.

Queen at Live Aid

Despite the Live Aid line-up being full of household names, Queen were not to be intimidated and delivered a set full of timeless classics flawlessly performed. Freddie Mercury had the audience in the palm of his hand from the opening notes of “Bohemian Rhapsody” right through to the closing tones of “We are the Champions”. He had the audience hysterically living every single moment as if they were on stage with him, and delivered perhaps the most defining performance of his career. 

 

The Who at Leeds

Few live performances catch a band at their peak more so than The Who performing at Leeds. This saw the original line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and the inimitable Keith Moon at their aggressive, hard rocking best. The performance was electric from start to finish and many felt this was the band’s true watershed moment entering into the 70s. The energy and musicianship on display was nothing short of outstanding and truly one of their most memorable performances.

 

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

In the early hours of Monday 18th August 1969, Jimi Hendrix stepped up in front a crowd ravaged by the weather to deliver one of the greatest sets of all time. Only 180,000 out of an initial 500,000 had stuck around but they were not to be disappointed. The set consisted almost entirely of stunning improvisation, and featured an amazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Hendrix played the longest set of his career, and at a ferocious pace, to create the stand-out moment of an already iconic festival.

 

Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden

In what was the highest ever grossing concert at the time, Led Zeppelin rocked up in North America to deliver a marathon set of classic riffs and violin bow guitar solos. This captured the band at their very best and at the peak of their powers. Robert Plant enthralled the crowd with his pitch perfect vocals while Jimmy Page electrified them with his prowess on the guitar. Meanwhile, John Bonham furiously pounded the drums behind them to complete one of the most flawless performances in rock history.

 

Sex Pistols at Manchester Trade Hall

Recreation: clip from the film 24 Hour Party People

In what has been described as one of the most influential gigs of all time, the Sex Pistols transformed the face of the music industry. Only 100 people (although several thousand claimed to have been there) witnessed Johnny Rotten spitting and snarling his way through a set packed with raw energy and hatred. This was a moment in music that changed it all and inspired thousands of bands to create their own brand of music. Pound for pound this is perhaps the most important gig of all time.

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