Top 20 greatest gigs of all time

Music is littered with great gigs- here are some of the key moments that either defined generations or were catalyst moments…
James Brown at the Apollo New York 1963
James Brown knew it- he had been on the road for months and the band was hot- it just needed getting down on vinyl- the vibrancy and the heat of the shows, that crackling energy and that US marine military unit of the band- trouble is his label King records didn’t think the same believing thee idea to be pure folly. Fortunately James Brown had courage in his convictions and stuck his hand in his pocket and paid for the recording himself documenting one of the great and iconic live gigs and finally capturing the band as they should have been heard in one of the great all time classic live gigs.
Johny Cash at Fulsome Prison
Much documented and much loved this is one of the best known gigs of all time when the dark sonorous and smokin’ vocal of Mr. Cash entertaining the prisoners in the mean surroundings of Fulsome Prison. Johnny Cash’s empathy with the inmates and his roll call of great songs makes for a killer show and the band’s road tightness and the charisma of the singer combine into an electric performance when you can sense the danger that should be part of every great live show.
Beatles in Hamburg 1960
Did the sixties really start in a dimly lit and smokey Hamburg cellar in 1960?
Was this were the long scream began and the whole world was spun on its axis?
There was one night in amongst the many when the prefab fabs went  from being the runts of the scouse litter who the other Liverpool bands complained about them getting the Hamburg gig to becoming prime contenders. It could have been when they leared to ‘mak show’ as the German promoters yelled at them and John Lennon retruned with a bog seat wrapped around  his neck or it could have been the endless hours and the cheap speed that kept them up all night and turned them into a great rock n roll band whose raw energy and sense of excitement was  about to change the decade. Whatever it was, it was something because ‘the Beatles in Hamburg’ became the byline for many bands for years to define that moment when it really did click for them.
Sex Pistols at Manchester Free Trade Hall 1976
The two much mythologised Free Trade Hall gigs in the summer of 1976 clicked into action the endles pemrtaions of the Manchester post punk scene as future members of the SMiths, Joy Division, the Fall, Buzzcocks, Slaughter and the Dogs and, er, Skrewdriver were in the room for the catalytic gig,
Famously this was the gig everyone pretended they were at ‘I swear I was there…’ was what people apparently said  but in decades of living in Manchester I have never met anyone who actually pretended they were there but those that did turn make the gig saw about haf of them ending  up making their own music and laying down the foundation of the northern city’s legendary music scene.
Bob Dylan at Manchester Free Trade Hall 1965
The boos and taunts from the audience are now etched in rock history – especially the cry of Judas from the offended hipster who can’t bear the fact that Bob has gone electric. Music has always been full of snobs who don’t want to share their icons with great unwashed and when Bob plugged in he was saying he wanted to be a pop star like that boy band the Beatles. The modern equivalent would be like Steve Albini joining One Direction. Maybe.
Dylan fronts out the abuse turning the band up, muttering a four letter word under his breath and surviving the great stand off- meanwhile the great cry of ‘Judas’ resonates through the generations with endless underground heroes getting slammed…

part 2 of the top 20 greatest gigs of all time is here

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