Random Thoughts From The Pit

Top 11 Live Acts...According To Me

Live Bands Blog.jpg

Why 11? Because I like to be different...

Ok so this is very much my opinion...

As a result it can’t be wrong…just different to your opinion...

You will disagree...

The world and his dog is allowed to have differing views...

First a number of points:

- This is in no particular order…that would be far too difficult….it changes often

- I have been told my music taste is shit. This may well be the case but each to their own. This list is certainly not a cool one of critically acclaimed artists…some are but most not

- This list is of the acts that’s I have seen live. Queen is my favourite band in the history of the world ever but I never saw them in their true incarnation. I have seen ¾ of them live. I have seen ½ of the live. I have seen ½ plus PR. I have seen ¼ of them live on a number of occasions but never the full band

- I am simply stating the top acts I have seen live. That means I am trying to compare a solo singer songwriter with a glam band with an indie band with a pop band with a thrash band with a…well you get my drift

- I really should have made this a top thirty but I would have been here for ever. This list will no doubt change next week and the week after. All I am doing is listing my favourite artists live…that I can remember…not necessarily my favourite gigs…that’s for another post…

Queen +

Queen are by far my favourite group. I go to the fan club conventions every year and I have seen everything but the true four piece live in some incarnation or other. However I can only squeeze a ‘Queen+’ in because there are far too many variables.

Roger Taylor solo is my favourite. The man has a gravelly voice, a wicked humour and a pure rock background. His other band, The Cross was great to see inc possible my favourite ever gig. Brian May solo put on some great shows but was more cheesy rock than Taylor’s old skool rock and roll. Not cool but that guitar alone is worth seeing live, a guitar god that I would travel the world to see. John Deacon? Saw him once alongside Brian and Roger at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert.I would love to see him again but that isn’t going to happen.

Queen and Paul Rodgers together were very good. Saw them five times and were always worth the entrance fee but Paul Rodgers isn’t Freddie. He isn’t suited to a lot of Queen’s back catalogue so it just didn’t feel right all the time however seeing Brian and Roger on the big stage again was sublime.

Why I Love Them Live: Pure joy at seeing my ultimate heroes on stage


There is little time to relax at a Madness gig. From usual opener One Step Beyond all the way through to the encore there is a mosh pit the like of which I have never experienced before. In fact there is no mosh pit; instead the whole floor is a mass of people reliving their past ska days plus the younger crowd that have come to see what all the fuss is about. The one band where I get to do the one type of move that I am good at and that is the jump up and down….pogoing, moshing or whatever you want to call it.

Why I Love Them Live: I get to jump up and down and not get looked at like I am doing something that is punishable by hanging

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Have had mixed experiences of them live but when they are great they are superb. Dublin in 2011 stands out as a classic. Every song from across their long history played to a crowd that was bouncing. I have somehow managed to see them with three different guitarists; Dave Navarro, John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer. All three are great in their own ways but it is Flea that dominates. Add his energy to that of lead singer Anthony Kiedis and they are a live force to be reckoned with.

Why I Love Them Live:Kiedis and Flea with the energy of youth even in their late 40’s early 50’s

Little Angels

One of the most energetic rock bands I ever saw. With an eye for melody but also full on rock, they were a band who always gave 110% live. This energy was led by lead singer Toby Jepson who had a ballsy voice that would shine in songs like Too Much Too Young but also suit the gentle ballads such as Womankind. The news that they are getting back together for the first time since their ‘farewell’ gig at the Royal Albert Hall in 1994 is greatly welcomed by me.

Why I Love Them Live: A singer with a hell of a voice and a band that never, ever lets you down

David Gray

Change of pace here with Mr Gray (this is where most reviewers insert ‘wobbly headed singer songwriter’…which I guess I have now just done). He seems to be loved and hated in equal measure (not quite as much as James Blunt but he still has his share of critics). Far more critically accepted in America these days than at home he is someone that really does divide opinion. For me it is far too easy to criticise himwithout seeing him perform live. He has a unique voice, that is especially great when he rocks out on songs like A Century Ends, and has a great connection with his audience.

Why I Love Them Live: Far more approachable and not up his own back side than many singer songwriters are, he is someone I genuinely adore see play


Irelands finest and I don’t mean that as an idle generic phrase. I genuinely believe they are the best band to come out of Ireland. Yes there have been some greats (Thin Lizzy and RoryGallagher to name but two) and there are many that would disagree with my assessment. Let’s face it there are many that think them a one trick pony or those that simply don’t like Bono. That is a shame as having seen them live numerous times I can say with full confidence that they are a barn storming live band who put on top shows.

Why I Love Them Live: Possibly the best live ‘show’ of anybody. They up their game and raise the bar as each tour goes by

Guns N Roses

I am talking about Use Your Illusion era when I talk about GNR. I have never felt as much excitement and anticipation as when waiting for them to come on stage. Yes the wait could sometimes be a little long but it was always worth it…usually. Yes I was only 18 / 19 when I saw them back then so everything was new to me. I guess I was easily impressed.

To this day though those shows back then stand out. I managed to see them a few times at Wembley, not to mention Gateshead and a weekend at Milton Keynes (!) and they were excellent every time. Ok so I never got to see them in 1987 touring Appetite but even four years later they were a sight to behold.

Why I Love Them Live: A voice, a guitar, an attitude


They have been a joy on every occasion I have seen them live including a gig at Nottingham in 2011 that has to come in my all-time top three. James gigs are joyous occasions but strangely I never got to see them first time round. Always liked them but for some reason never saw them live; at least not until their comeback in 2007. Unlike most bands that reform after years apart they have produced some great material and have creatively gone on to another level (they were on a pretty high one as it was). I am yet to be let down by James. No bad song, no bad show. They look after their fans which is something they have in common with most of the other artists on this list.

Why I Love Them Live: Tim Booth’s dancing and a feeling of pure joy every time I see them play

Rolling Stones

First time seeing them was at Wembley in 1990 and they blew me away that day. That was only my second ever concert and between that gig and the nine other occasions I saw them…well they were always magnificent.

You have probably heard before how much energy Mick Jagger has for someone his age. True. Yet I heard that same thing back in 1990. They also got called dinosaurs back then. They were told they were too old and that it was time to give it up. Jagger was 47. Most of the artists in this list are that age or above now. Go figure.

Yes they usually play the hits but they have always varied the rest of the set and to be honest I’m not sure I want to go to a Stones gig and see them play ten new songs.

Why I Love Them Live: Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, Wyman….nuff said

Bon Jovi

People scoff when I say I am going to see Bon Jovi live. They laugh when I say they are one of my favourite bands. They smirk when I get offended by their reaction.

I get offended because the band have a live work ethic to make many younger bands weep and would put many of their contemporaries to shame.

They celebrate 30 years together in 2013; longevity is something that should not be sniffed at, trust me, no matter what they may say, the original Guns n Roses would love to have lasted as long as Bon Jovi have. They were the first band I ever saw live when I was just a silly excited teenager. I was in awe of these American rock stars. I thought they were really cool but I realised over time that they weren’t. They never will be cool, but if being cool means you have to have your head shoved so far up your own backside that you forget about the fans…then I really don’t care for such things. It is the bands that care about their fans that survive and go from strength to strength and in that respect there are not many better than New Jersey’s finest.

Why I Love Them Live:These Days remains one of my favourite tours of any band and the album of the same name showed what talent they possess

Bruce Springsteen

Did I apply the ‘New Jersey’s finest’ tag already? Hmmm well I am going to cheat and apply it again. Springsteen like Bon Jovi has a terrific live work ethic. When backed by the E-Street Band there are few artists that can match him live. 

It is now ok to like him. I seem to remember that wasn’t always the case. People mocked back in the day if you said you were a fan of Springsteen. Yet he somehow keeps on going from strength to strength and as he approaches forty years in the music business there really seems to be no stopping him.

There really must be something in the water in New Jersey, as to see a gig from Springsteen is an experience and a half. Often gigs are 3 hours in length but they never, ever, get boring. With such a large back catalogue it may become easy for him to just go for the motions but to date he never has. Not that I am aware of anyway. An ever changing set list is a true sign of that.

Why I Love Them Live: No one and I mean no one, works harder than Springsteen. Long shows should be expected and if you can’t last the pace then you are at the wrong show


There are loads more of course but I had to stop somewhere...I may not like 'cool' bands but I know a good gig when I see one. It’s easy to tell as I usually have a big beaming smile on my face afterwards.


by Dado Rock
Like this Blog? Like us on Facebook: