As it won’t have escaped your attention if you read this blog, I happen to quite like going to gigs. Whether it is seeing a friend’s band play a little venue in my hometown or travelling to Germany to attend the biggest and most famous metal festival in the world – I love almost everything that comes with live music. One thing that I have been asked a lot though is “who is the best band you’ve seen?” or “which gig/festival have you been to is the best?” The best is quite a title to give to one event. I don’t even know if it is possible for me to say that one band is the best I’ve seen live. I just don’t know. What this blog will do is go part of the way to answer that question by talking about my absolute favourite bands to see live and where was the best I’ve seen them. Most of them are festival headliners, but some are not. This is the best of everything I’ve seen. Also, as a side note, I have now seen 230 different bands live. This number will increase by the end of the year, seeing Rise Against and Theory of a Deadman along with all the new bands I’ll see at Reading. Anyway, the best of (in alphabetical order):
AIRBOURNE (Seen 5 Times)
Best Time – Portsmouth Guildhall, 2010
They are very faithful to their songs live while making all their material fun. In certain songs they extend solos and make songs even more fun. They are loud and lively, and all 5 times I’ve seen them have been great, with Guildhall being the best.
ALICE COOPER (Seen Once)
Best Time – Sonisphere 2010
Alice Cooper is a legend. A lot of the hype that surrounds Alice Cooper live is to do with his stage show. However, he still has it live. It was a superb set and I’ve heard that other gigs he has done since have been better (including a truly memorable performance at Club 100 – no stage show at all, just Alice Cooper with band).
AVANTASIA (Seen Once)
Best Time – Wacken 2011
This could and should have been “seen twice”. Fuck you Corvus Corax for being so bad I had to leave the arena at Wacken 2008. Anyhow, they were absolutely stunning at Wacken this year and were my favourite band over the whole weekend. The show was perfect from the beginning to the end.
DREAM THEATER (Seen 3 Times)
Best Time – Wembley Arena 2007
They are flawless live, or if not flawless then damn near close. What they do is show you just how damn good they are with their respective instruments in their hands and that is enough. Some people say it is just them showing off, but to me it works. Absolutely stunning.
FOO FIGHTERS (Seen 2 Times)
Best Time – Milton Keynes Bowl, 2011
From start to finish, Dave Grohl and friends are just superb. When I saw them earlier this year, they were perfect from the word go. Now it is one thing to be perfect for a short burst, but the Foo Fighters can do it for really long times. This set at MK was 26 songs long and was about 2.5hrs if memory serves. Dave is the perfect front man, knowing exactly how to speak to a crowd and how to hold a crowd, no matter the size, in the palm of his hand. It is a fine art that not many can do, but he can do it perfectly.
GINGER WILDHEART (Seen 3 Times)
Best Time – Talking Heads, Southampton, 2010
The front man of The Wildhearts has been touring solo since 2009 when The Wildhearts went on hiatus. It is unknown if they will come out of it, but Ginger is touring solo with a group of his friends and they are superb. The Talking Heads gig was amazing. It was a superb set list (like it is every time) and Ginger is a master at banter, making the crowd laugh in-between songs and dealing with hecklers sublimely. The only disappointment to me is that it isn’t The Wildhearts touring, but even that is becoming less of an issue for me each time I see him live (the latest being Sonisphere 2011).
IRON MAIDEN (Seen 5 Times)
Best Time – Twickenham Stadium, London 2008
Iron Maiden are one of, if not the best band the UK has offered to the metal genre. They are superb live, regardless of the set list. This gig was the best because it was my favourite set list along with the most memorable performance.
METALLICA (Seen 8 Times)
Best Time – Sonisphere 2009
They are just superb. Metallica mix their set lists up every gig so you can go twice on the same tour and see a different gig. They were stunning in 2009, just like they have been every time I’ve seen them.
MOTLEY CRUE (Seen 2 Times)
Best Time – Download 2007
The second time I saw them was at Sonisphere 2010 and it was ok at best. There were strong parts of the set but it was dominated by poor aspects. Download 2007 was Motley Crue on form, and they were utterly superb and fun. They created an amazing atmosphere in the tent and solidified their position of one of the best live bands out there.
NINE INCH NAILS (Seen 5 Times)
Best Time – MEN Arena, Manchester, 2009
NIN are mind-blowing live. Even on the Wave Goodbye tour, where they were calling it a day, they were superb. They would always choose the perfect set list and performance wise, it is hard to say that any other band is better live. When they stopped touring, they left a massive void in the live circuit.
RAMMSTEIN (Seen 2 Times)
Best Time – MEN Arena, Manchester, 2010
Rammstein are much like Alice Cooper. When people speak of Rammstein live, they talk about the live show. Just like Alice Cooper, Rammstein not only deliver a fantastic stage show, but they back it up with an awesome live performance. Crowd interaction with them does not need to take place at a Rammstein show for the crowd to feel involved.
SKINDRED (Seen 5 Times)
Best Time – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, 2011
How this band play such small rooms on their headline tours is beyond me. However, they are absolutely stunning live. I have never seen them do a poor gig or festival set. Their music live is immense and that is coupled with a very energetic gig, lead by Benji Webbe who is one of the best, and could be the best front man of this generation.
SLIPKNOT (Seen 2 Times)
Best Time – Sonisphere 2011
Seeing Slipknot live is mayhem. The band are always on form, lead by Corey Taylor who is a dominating front man. The show is something which needs to be witnessed to be believed. It is carnage of the best kind.
STONE SOUR (Seen 5 Times)
Best Time – Dingwalls, London 2010
Hey its Corey Taylor’s second entry in this list. Seeing them in the tiny Dingwalls highlighted how good they are live as we were so close to them. Even when they seem miles away on a festival stage, they are superb live. They don’t need a stage show like other entries on this list; they just turn up and dominate the stage, no matter the size.
VOLBEAT (Seen Once)
Best Time – Sonisphere 2011
I saw Volbeat at Sonisphere play for about 40mins and truth be told, it was amazing. This entry can be updated more when I see them at their own show. This is coming in October.
So, who is the best? I cannot say, but to me, it is one of these bands. I fully expect to be able to add at least one more entry to this list by the time this month has ended, and that would be Muse