Nothing compares to seeing your favourite artists perform live in the flesh. Putting the feelings evoked by a gig into words is a monumental challenge. First off, there is the communal aspect, singing along to your favourite songs, in unison with thousands of others. Then there are those intimate moments. Those moments when it feels as though the artists are playing just for you, as you are submerged in the instrumentals and forget about everything else. The fact that these same artists can then, with a subtle key change, revert the setting back to one huge party simply adds to the allure of a live performance.
These transcendent moments stand out for us here at Nouse, so much so that we want to share our favourite gig experiences. In our ‘Gigs of a Lifetime’ feature, our Music team share with you the stand-out examples of their live music endeavours. Their picks cover a varied range of genres, from pioneers of the Madchester Sound, The Stone Roses, to pop icon, Lady Gaga, to the innovative alt-rockers, Radiohead, and American metalcore group, A Day To Remember.
The Stone Roses @ Heaton Park, Manchester 30/06/12
Manchester’s Heaton Park. June 2012. The seminal Manchester band had only 7 months earlier announced their reformation after 15 years, with two planned shows at their hometown’s Heaton Park. Tickets sold out in record time, the initial 150 000 being snapped up in just 14 minutes, before a third date was added (and just as promptly sold out). As a massive Roses fan who had, after a stressful morning exercising my keyboard’s refresh button, obtained a ticket, my excitement for the gig was tangible; it was set to be the band’s first UK show since 1996 and was always going to be special.
I wasn’t remotely disappointed. Ian Brown, known perhaps for his often-faltering vocal performances in the past, was in fine form as the band belted out a set of rapturing classics from their self-titled 1989 debut to 75 000 adoring fans. It was a show that had everything a hardened Roses fan could want: the dance-funk of ‘Fool’s Gold’, the rockiness of ‘Love Spreads’, the swagger of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, and the sing-along euphoria of ‘Made of Stone’. Never had I been to a gig that actively had the feeling of musical history being made in front of you, not until The Stone Roses rediscovered what made them so great the first time around before my very eyes. JD
Lady Gaga @ Sheffield Arena 07/03/10
I was 12 years old when my life gained meaning, because I saw Lady Gaga in concert. She was, in a word, astounding. Meat dresses and disco sticks aside, Gaga proved herself to be one of the most incredible vocalists in the industry. Dynamics, range, power – she deployed everything in her arsenal, and ended up singing the entire arena’s faces off. Gaga’s always prided herself for her artistry, but it was never self-indulgent.
There were breath-taking acoustic performances of album highlights, like ‘Speechless’, as well as arena-storming anthems like ‘Telephone’ performed with knee-slapping gusto. Now, in 2016, the Gaga well has run a little dry, but 2010 was a different – and better – time. Donald Trump was still on Celebrity Apprentice, Wagner was on X Factor, and Lady Gaga inspired incredible enthusiasm at the time. I distinctly remember finding myself con- fronted by some vigorous thrusting by a bedazzled woman in the row in front, which proved both terrifying and incredible. Nowhere but a Gaga gig would you get such a display. Lady Gaga still has a magnificent voice, but what made this gig so brilliant at the time was that of course she sounded different to everybody else in the industry, and her songs also had hooks. Hooks that 20 000 people could sing along to, which made for an unforgettable experience. Perhaps she’ll never create such moments again, but for gigs like this, she will always be iconic to me. AT
A Day to Remember @ Alexandra Palace, London 12/02/14
After two hours of waiting in the cavernous Alexandra Palace, the lights dropped and the image of lead singer Jeremy McKinnon stood in his bathroom was projected over the audience. He got a call to head downstairs, and found the whole band having a party in his house. A few song puns later, they announced that they’d invited some people over to party, so they best get ready. And then, the screen dropped. On stage was a full sized suburban house – complete with basketball hoop and garden furniture – and out of the garage walk A Day To Remember.
What followed was the wildest party you could ever attend. From the opening song the crowd split into one massive mosh pit that pushed me straight to the front, and every song came with demands from McKinnon to open the floor up more. If strobes, streamers and killer tunes weren’t enough, the party of a lifetime was made when McKinnon got shoved in a Zorb ball and rolled over the ecstatic crowd. When the softer songs came round, the entire venue was scattered with lights as every fan present screamed the words. Raucous, intense, incredible.
But wait, was that the cops? A helicopter (papier-mache) descended above the house, and we’re told to shut it down. Nobody was having that. A dozen fans were pulled on stage and out came toilet paper, beach balls and t-shirt cannons which were thrown/fired into the crowd. The night climaxed in a monumental and beautiful mess. The house party of the decade ended on a most incredible high. EL
Radiohead @ The Roundhouse, London 26/05/16
When Radiohead announced three dates at the Roundhouse, I was simultaneously filled with both uncontainable excitement and dread; Radiohead are one of my favourite bands, however the venue has a capacity of only 3,300 standing, so the chances of obtaining tickets were incredibly slim. Luckily, my father and I were two of the few to get tickets. We arrived at Camden at around 4pm on the afternoon of the performance, and the wait to enter the venue seemed endless. Upon finally making our way inside, we found ourselves stood in the second row, directly in front of where Thom Yorke would stand. As the band walked on stage, they were greeted by a loud roar from the small, but enthralled audience. Yorke and co began with five songs from their latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool, and then proceeded to play another twenty songs from the rest of their impressive discography.
My favourite of these was Kid A’s ‘Idioteque’, with the frontman dancing around the stage with a mesmerising energy. The first set of songs performed was closed by ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, on which Jonny Greenwood was stunning. In fact, Greenwood was as impressive as the frontman, playing a variety of instruments, from electrifying guitar solos, to moving piano motifs. Other highlights were ‘Reckoner’, ‘Talk Show Host’ and the very last song of the two encores, ‘Paranoid Android’.
I felt so privileged to find myself witnessing one of music’s truly great bands perform from barely metres away. The small size of the venue resulted in an extremely intimate gig, with a special dynamic between the band and their adoring fans, something that is extremely rare with a band of Radiohead’s popularity. I was utterly captivated for two and a half hours, and it is certainly an experience that I will never forget. HB