Top 10 Best Concerts and Live Performances

The best performances in rock, jazz, R&B, and other genres, including those from TV shows, concerts, festivals, and other events, are a matter of personal preference and can vary greatly. However, there have been many iconic performances throughout history that have left a lasting impact.
The Top Ten
1 Queen (Wembley Stadium, 1986)

There will never be another frontman quite like Freddie Mercury. I saw Queen live in concert five times, and my favorite has to be my first concert at the Erlanger Theater in Philadelphia in 1975. A then-unknown band called Kansas opened for them.

The Erlanger was a small and dated, but classic, venue that was torn down a few years later. That night, Queen was just amazing, and we were close enough to almost be able to catch one of the roses that Freddie Mercury threw into the audience at the end of the evening as he stood breathing heavily into the microphone. I felt like he was looking directly at me - or maybe it was my brother who was standing next to me, but no matter.

The girl in front of me caught the rose, but I felt like he was throwing it to me. I was 14 years old and it was my first concert - and an evening I will never forget. Thanks, Freddie, Brian, Roger, and John!

2 X Japan (The Last Live, 1997)

I love this band so much. What's great about them is that they're so good live. Few bands can rival them when it comes to live performances.

Their songs feel even more deep and brilliant than their studio versions when live. Toshi's voice is so powerful, emotional, and raw, and even more amazing live, it just blows minds. Yoshiki's flamboyance and flair for the melodramatic is inspiring. You can see his genius.

I love this band so much, and they are so perfect. Their style and androgyny are beautiful. Their stage performance is effervescent. I'm a huge fan.

3 Michael Jackson (Bucharest Live Tour, 1992)

Michael Jackson had incredible talent. I never got to see him perform live, but I have watched hundreds of his concerts online, and they are all phenomenal. The way he moves and glides across the stage, how he can so smoothly dance and sing so flawlessly at the same time, I will never know.

I don't know about you, but have you ever tried to dance even close to his level? Or sing the way he does? Or both at the same time? It's just amazing how he can do it all. Everyone has their own opinion on things, but just watch one of his concerts all the way through.

The dedication he puts into his performances is above the top. He always puts all his strength and effort into each and every one of his concerts. There are no words to describe how incredibly talented he is.

4 Heart (California Jam 2, 1978)

I was there, just 17, and came down from the Bay Area. Beware! Some of the joints passed around were laced with KJ or PCP. Heart kicked ass and looked great.

How about Mahogany Rush with the huge remote plane flown right at the stage with Frank Marino shooting it down with his guitar, making it sound like a machine gun? Awesome! Great sound effects. And Santana, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, etc.

A show from MTV is ranked higher than Heart at Cal Jam 2? How can people compare the two? Heart played in front of 300,000 people and were perfect throughout their set. This is crazy.

5 Various Artists (Woodstock, 1969)

Half a million people in one crowded area, with some of the most amazing artists of that era! Could we have half a million people together for three days now? No, everyone would get ticked off and kill each other. At Woodstock, there were no deaths and two births.

More people left than arrived. Plus, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead - all of these bands changed music. How is this not better than X Japan?

The winner by a mile. It's just a fact that Jimi Hendrix alone was more memorable and more spectacular than Freddie Mercury. Add in the rest of the stellar lineup turning in lifetime best performances, plus the stars being aligned in a way that will never happen again, and Woodstock is the top among all live concerts in history.

6 L'Arc~en~Ciel (15th L'Anniversary, 2006)

The production of this live is of such quality that everything is just perfect. From the performance, lighting, sound, and wardrobe to the feeling of the concert.

This concert is so amazing. I always watch this concert and I am not bored watching it. Good luck to L'Arc~en~Ciel.

A moment of glory. After nearly two years without any real concert, these guys gave all of themselves to show us what a real performance is. All that because of their 15th anniversary. Amazing. Pure magic.

7 Metallica (Seattle, 1989)

Everything is perfect in this concert. Drum sound, guitar, and Hetfield's beastly fantastic voice. It includes a fantastic set list, with legendary performances, like when they tear down Lady Justice at the end of "...And Justice for All," which always sends shivers down my spine.

Greatest concert ever.

No question, this was the height of this phenomenal band's career. From Creeping Death to Master of Puppets, this band kills it from start to finish.

The prime of Metallica playing one of the greatest concerts! It should be up there with Woodstock.

8 Led Zeppelin (Madison Square Garden, 1973)

How is this not in the top ten? One of the best performances of one of the best live bands ever. Just look up "Stairway" from this show on YouTube. Plant is on, and Page wrecks it for 2 minutes and 40 seconds during the solo with his eyes closed.

The band was at their prime. All the best material is shown in this powerhouse performance.

Metallica at Seattle is still one of my very favorite concerts.

Biggest, baddest, and best band ever. They set the mark for all else to try and attain. There is only one... Led Zeppelin.

9 Bon Jovi (Wembley, 1995)

Wow, three nights straight. You've got to hand it to these guys. They're awesome and don't give up easily, don't you think?

Just magic... no words to describe it! Best concert ever!

Best concert ever! The greatest event of hard rock history! - Paola S.

10 Deep Purple (Made In Japan, 1972)

This was the peak of the creativity, technique, improvisation, and energy of Deep Purple at the classic MK II.

It's considered one of the best live rock albums in history, with good reason. The best, in my opinion. So many definitive live versions of their songs are on this album, especially Child In Time (superb vocals!) and Highway Star (the improvisations on keyboards and guitar and the energy sound breathtaking here).

Everything was right on point, so perfect.

Child In Time, if that doesn't make you shiver with emotion, you ain't got no business voting for music. It is one of the best performances ever.

The Contenders
11 Nirvana (MTV Unplugged, 1993)

I agree, one of the best concerts of all time, and the fact they did it their way against everything MTV told them makes it so much better. I won't pretend to be well-versed in all the concerts listed above, but to say Linkin Park (who I like) and Bon Jovi (seriously) are above this performance seems comical.

For what it's worth, from what I've heard, that Monterey festival should by far be first, as so many influential artists first showed their chops there.

The best thing about this is that it's considered one of the best live performances of all time, and they didn't even play Teen Spirit. That's saying something about Nirvana.

12 Various Artists (The Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)

The Monterey International Pop Festival, the first rock festival ever held in 1967, occurred two years before Woodstock. Playing at Monterey were The Mamas and the Papas (they also helped organize it), Simon and Garfunkel, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Association, The Animals, Canned Heat, Otis Redding, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and many more. Cool, huh?

Jimi Hendrix played the best guitar ever!

13 Various Artists (Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, 1992)

Hands down, the greatest energy and enthusiasm from the audience and the artists involved. A fitting tribute that is unmatched to date. An emotional, yet conclusive gig demonstrating that Freddie was not only one of the most loved and respected musicians of that time but also had such a powerful voice that none of his peers could even remotely compete with.

The best music and lineup ever: David Bowie, George Michael. Say no more.

14 Pink Floyd (PULSE, 1995)

Although the Division Bell tour was a perfect exercise in musical accuracy, the thing that awed the audience was the sheer size of the set and the more-than-amazing light show. Anyone who witnessed the show stopper Run Like Hell will agree that this was an eye-splitting as well as an ear-splitting experience.

In my opinion, the highlight was the band playing the complete Dark Side of the Moon, a musical treat of gastronomic proportions.

Music that will live on as long as Beethoven, performed by the best live musicians of the genre, with a stage show that trumps everything. I was fortunate enough to see the show on tour in Oslo and got the terrific add-on of "Marooned." I have been to a lot of concerts and live shows, indoors and out. Nothing has been in the same league as this.

As others have commented, this belongs in the top three.

15 Iron Maiden (Rock in Rio, 2001)

Now this is what I call a live show! A great live album to go with Brave New World.

16 Linkin Park (Live in Milton Keynes, UK, 2008)

Linkin Park are the greatest performers of all time. To see their concerts is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

It is the best band in the world. Some of their songs are remarkable. Seeing them is a huge opportunity.

Linkin Park is itself a music genre. Whatever they create is the best. I have never seen any other artist or band performing live better than them. They are the best.

I love you, Linkin Park. Please, please, please come to India on this Asia tour. Your fans have been waiting for you here since you evolved. You have never been in India. Please come here.

17 Pink Floyd (Live at Pompeii, 1972)

Too young to see it live, but great to listen to.

18 Led Zeppelin (Royal Albert Hall, 1970)

Led Zeppelin is the best live band to ever exist. Each member was so in sync with one another, and RAH is nothing but raw talent. I hate to see the gods of rock so far down on the list.

Best live band ever, no comparison. Should be number one.

19 Various Artists (Lollapalooza I, 1991)

Living Colour, The Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Jane's Addiction. Finally, a redefinition of what music could and should be.

20 The Band (The Last Waltz, 1976) The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group formed in 1965 . Which originally consisting of Rick Danko (bass guitar, double bass, fiddle, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboards, saxophones, trumpet), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, vocals) and Robbie Robertson... read more

I saw the special on PBS years ago and just fell in love with The Band. Their music was incredible, just so real and down to earth. You can tell by the who's who of musicians at the time that showed up to perform with them that they were highly appreciated by their peers.

Some of the best musical artists of the time were here. Check out the Staple Singers, Neil Young, Van Morrison's performances and tell me why this show is not way higher on the list.

How can this be so far down the list? It's top ten if not top five easily!

21 Bob Dylan and Friends (30th Anniversary Concert, 1992)

Simply take a look at the musicians and singers involved if you can't listen to the whole thing. Though you should treat yourself. Also, see the list "Best Performances from the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert" for more info.

22 ABBA (Wembley, 1979)
23 George Harrison & Friends (The Concert for Bangladesh, 1971)

The first major rock concert for charity with various stars. A significant accomplishment by George Harrison, besides the great music.

24 Various Artists (August Jam, 1974)

Awesome that this hit the top 10. I was 18 and drove from Kingsport, TN, with my boyfriend (future first husband). I can see all the cars, even now, parked in the grassy median of the highway.

It took us a while to walk to the speedway, but right before we got there, people had crashed the gate and we got in free. I remember people in the ticket booths in the bleacher stands selling Mr. Natural. Laugh out loud. We went down on the speedway floor and, on occasion, would walk up to the stage.

Remember Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and the rotating piano? What a great time. Haven't seen or been to another weekend concert like that since. Better not share everything else we did. It was the 70s, after all.

25 L'Arc~en~Ciel (AsiaLive, 2005)
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