Traditionally, a Monday morning in August should see the music industry trading stories about the amazing festivals and outdoor gigs they went to over the weekend.
With the coronavirus pandemic still shutting down the live business, however, that isn’t an option. But, so you still have something to chat about on this morning’s team Zoom call, Music Week polled a bunch of top artists and executives on the greatest gig they ever saw.
You’re all on the guestlist, so dive in…
“I’m a huge Daft Punk fan, so their show at Wireless in 2007 was a moment for me. I never thought I’d be able to see Daft Punk, having grown up with them. Their influence on what electronic music is today is just [massive]… It still resonates.”
DIPESH PARMAR, PRESIDENT, MINISTRY OF SOUND
“It was at the Pula Amphitheatre in Croatia, 2018. It was the opening concert for the festival which I'd been the booker for since 2012. The year prior to starting the festival, I had discussed how spectacular it would be to see Kraftwerk play there one day. Finally, having never managed to get tickets as a fan for their shows, missing out for 20 years, we booked them and 2018 was the year I decided to leave so it was an even more poignant goodbye for me. Although he wasn't performing, the death of Florian Schneider brought this all back to me again in April.”
DAVID MARTIN, GENERAL MANAGER, FEATURED ARTISTS COALITION
“My favourite ever live show was Jay-Z at Ally Pally in 2009. I’d just started working in music at the time but I went with my friends and I just remember thinking, we’ll never see Jay-Z in this kind of venue again. It was incredible. I also love Beyoncé so when she and Jay did the On The Run II tour in 2018 at London Stadium it was great, because I go to see both of my favourite artists in one space. Jay-Z had just released 4:44 and he had these amazing visuals that accompanied the album. That was a really big, impactful live show.”
SAFIYA LAMBIE-KNIGHT, ARTIST & LABEL PARTNERSHIPS LEAD, SPOTIFY UK
“In 2012, I was managing Colin Vearncombe, aka Black. He and Calum MacColl were playing a homecoming show at the [since redeveloped] Kazimier Club in Liverpool and halfway through his classic Wonderful Life, the PA shorted out with a loud bang. Without missing a beat, Colin motioned the audience to pick up the song and the resulting rousing community singalong was one of those rare special moments. I’ve thought of that gig many times, especially since Colin’s tragically early death.
KERRY HARVEY-PIPER, OWNER, RED GRAPE MUSIC
“When I went to Rototom Festival last year, Busy Signal was on, it was the first time I had seen him live and it was amazing to watch him perform. I didn’t know he had so much reggae music in his catalogue, I thought he was a dancehall artist. Watching him, seeing him interact with the crowd and hearing a lot of songs I had no idea he had, was a really amazing experience.”
“The first time I saw Bjork, and I was a long-time fan, was in Japan at Fuji Rock Festival in 2003. We were playing the next day so I got to watch her, and I cried my eyes out. I lost my shoe. I got to meet her afterwards too, and that was way too overwhelming for me. I had to go quickly and cry by myself. I was very young, I wouldn’t behave that way now – but it was an emotional time. Hearing her voice live for the first time had such a big impact because I’d never heard it before and you don’t know what somebody sounds like live until you see them. I also saw her do this really next level performance called The Cornucopia last year, at The Shed in New York. It was incredible. She made it a whole world – you walk into the show, it’s all dark and there are aliens, animal sounds and you get in your seat like, ‘What is happening? I’m on another planet!’ My mind was completely blown. She’s phenomenal, flawlessly amazing as a vocalist and performer.”
AMY LEE, EVANESCENCE
“Cambridge Corn Exchange, some time in 1991. I was just finding my voice, building my views on the world and where I thought I stood within that. I’d been working, shifting flight cases for get-ins and outs at my local venue for a few months, so expanding my understanding of what music was and could be. Then, seeing Billy Bragg for the first time blew me away – seeing how a message could be crafted and pushed by someone not that much older than me, really opened my eyes to what lyrics could do.”
GIDEON FELMAN, HEAD OF PROGRAMMES, ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE (pictured)
“Everybody knows I’m a pretty big Florence + The Machine fan. I’ve been to a few of her shows, and the best one was probably the first time I saw her. We were on Warped Tour in 2015 and I flew out on an off day to go and see her play in Denver at Red Rocks. She was touring off How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful and it was really magical. Just that venue in itself is incredible and with her as a performer and the band being spot-on, it felt like this crazy, spiritual experience. I think everybody who’s been to one of her shows can confirm that. I’ve certainly never forgotten that, I always carry that with me.”
LYNN GUNN, PVRIS
“The one I immediately think of is Nina Simone at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1999. She was incredible. She came on with a carrier bag of stuff, I don’t know what was in it but she just sat down like she’d been out and fetched her shopping, and gave the most heart-stopping performance. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was being in the presence of the kind of talent that only comes around very rarely. It was wild to be in her presence, even at that age she was such a consummate performer, never hit a wrong note and every single moment was imbued with this power and passion. She was just a force of nature.”
TOM GRAY, GOMEZ/DIRECTOR, PRS FOR MUSIC/IVORS ACADEMY
“I saw him play [Essential Festival] in Brighton in 2000. I wasn't sure it was going to be any good and I think it was raining. But I thought I might as well go, I just didn't want to see James Brown and for it not be great, because I love his music so much. And he was dynamite, absolutely unbelievable – he did the dancing and the thing where they carry him off the stage. I'm so grateful I took the chance to go and see him.”
JOE KENTISH, HEAD OF A&R, WARNER RECORDS
"Watching Garbage at Reading Festival when I was 16, I was in absolute awe of Shirley Manson to the point where I was like, ‘I have to work in music one day to help someone else feel as empowered, elated and energised as I do right now with thousands of people jumping around me with this amazing collective experience’."
STEVEN BRAINES, CEO, THE WEIRD & THE WONDERFUL
“It was so nuts getting to see Kate Bush at the Apollo in 2014. It was my dad, my brother and me, we were in row Z, right at the back, I could just about see her little head. She did lots of very random songs, but then she did And Dream Of Sheep and Cloudbusting at the end and, for everyone there, it was such a universally exciting experience to get to see Kate Bush.”
KATY J PEARSON
“I’m a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. In 2013, Christine McVie joined the band for the first time in many years, having retired from Fleetwood Mac, to play out the last couple of tunes at The O2, including my favourite Don’t Stop. It sent tingles down my body. I will never forget it, I adored every moment.”
PAUL CLEMENTS, CEO, MUSIC PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION
“We stepped in at the last minute to play Glastonbury last year. It’s really difficult, when you’ve been making music for a while, to find an experience that you feel really naïve about, and I really love those things. So to be called up at the last minute to do Glastonbury when we weren’t expecting it and just walk out on stage and blast it was amazing. It’s the best gig for me, that I can remember…”
TIM BURGESS, THE CHARLATANS (!)