This was tricky to put in order, in the end I had to leave some great bands lower in the list, but this was how it played out
- Rage Against the Machine – a long time ago in a city far far away (London) I had the privilege of seeing what is still the best show I’ve been to. Even though it was an arena show, and even though we had sucky seats way up in the back, my bandmates and I had a great time and jumped around like crazy to what was then one of my favourite bands. An unforgettable experience, capped off by us walking home singing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Sir Psycho‘ in harmony.
- The Veils – One night in Vancouver my best friend and I went to the Media Club to see an unassuming band I’d heard little about. What I witnessed was one of the most intense performances I’ve ever seen. Their lead singer (Finn Andrews) was incredibly charismatic, and his rasping vocals and bitter guitar stick in my memory. I would rank this above bands I prefer simply because of the intensity and brilliance of his performance.
- Portishead – in Vancouver a couple of years ago I was able to finally see a band I had grown up loving: Portishead. Having finally released a third album since I was a teenager, they had some newer songs to play, but they performed every song flawlessly and fed off the crowd to produce a great performance.
- Radiohead – This one was in Montreal in 2002 I believe. After Amnesiac but before Hail to the Thief. In my opinion this was the best period for Radiohead and I’m glad I got to see them. My ex took me, and while she wouldn’t let me go up front to scream at Thom (don’t get me started on that), I still had a great time. Only my second open air show. And they played ‘Just’ as an encore!
- Garbage – One of the first shows I ever went to was Garbage. At that time they were huge in the UK, and all my friends were listening to them. I was young enough that my dad had to drive us and pick us up from the show, but I still remember how good it was. Garbage were a producer’s band, and as such their live shows sounded almost perfectly like their albums, and Shirley Manson knew how to perform. I still remember being in the front row with my ears facing the speakers, and not being able to hear for two days afterwards (although that was probably more due to the supporting act, The Crystal Method).
- Kid Koala – I’ve seen Kid Koala live many times and he never disappoints. Well, maybe that one time with the live band, but every other time he has been great. He draws cartoons on stage, tells jokes with the audience and DJs like a fiend. An amazing show. His rendition of Moon River and his song Drunk Trumpet are particularly impressive scratching compositions.
- Rufus Wainwright – another person I’ve seen play multiple times, Rufus is a born entertainer. He’s funny and sexy on stage, and he sings beautifully. What I like perhaps better than that though is that sometimes he will make mistakes, go back and start the whole song over again. Somehow that makes him all the more human. If you like opera or musicals, or just powerful songs with great lyrics, I suggest you check out Rufus’ first four or five albums.
- Marilyn Manson – it was a hot day in Milton Keynes when my bandmates and I went to what I think was called the Big Day Out, a metal festival featuring a lot of bands. Given that the performers included Placebo, Metallica, Terrorvision, Monster Magnet and Queens of the Stone Age (who at that time I’d not heard of), Marilyn Manson topped things off with a crazed and electric performance, which included (if memory serves) Marilyn hopping off into the crowd to have a fight with someone while the rest of the band just played along.
- Regina Spektor – Regina has an amazing voice. Not just amazing in the sense of really good, just amazing in the things that she can do with it. And with just her and a piano (or guitar) she put together a really excellent show. Another one I feel lucky to have attended
- The Orbital – I made the trip all the way to the UK for this show. And I wasn’t the person who’d come the farthest. One of the group I was with made it all the way from Australia just to see this show. And they did not disappoint. The crowd was a little bit older as one might expect from a band that was big when I was still learning to ride a bike, but they destroyed all their old classics and a few things from their new album too… in a good way. Best of all, I got some illuminated sunglasses with the Orbital logo on. Merch!