Concerts you attended that were genuinely historic - and why!

What show(s) did you attend that would be widely recognised as historic? Not just ones that were special to you, but ones others would recognise. What made it special?

Live Aid is the obvious example but here are my three to set you off:

Roger Waters - The Wall in Berlin, 1990. Roger had said he would only perform when The Berlin Wall fell. The show, venue and city dripped with raw history. Some of the performance were dire but to be in the crowd singing, ‘Tear Down The Wall’ was simply immense.

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert - 1992. I love the band - always have. Top warm up sets from Extreme, Metallica, Guns n Roses and Def Leppard. I was prepared to cry all night but we were near the front and it was such a celebration - Axl coming on for the rock part of Bo Rap - wow! Haven’t recovered from Bowie’s ‘Lord’s Prayer’ bit yet though.

Kate Bush - Hammersmith, 2014. I feel so priviledged to have been there. ‘The Ninth Wave’ played live for goodness sake!!! So much love from the crowd and I have never seen an artist so touched. That is what music is about.


Freddie Mercury’s Final Concert
Knebworth 9 August 1986. I was there amongst 120,000 others. I didn’t know at the time that it would be his last concert, but it was a belter!


Off the top of my head…

Led Zep, Knebworth 11th August 1979 (the second weekend) - their last big gig and the very last time they played in the UK.

Pink Floyd, Earls Court 17th June 1981 – the last time old Rog played live with the Floyd; at least until Live8, 24 years later.

New Order, Heaven 9th February 1981 – Their London debut.

Einsturzende Neubauten, the ICA, 3rd January 1984 – As part of “Big Brother, New Year Rock Week” - EN performed The Concerto for Voice & Machinery, when Genesis P Orridge, Frank ‘Fad Gadget’ Tovey and some members of EN used road drills, angle grinders and chain saws to destroy the stage. IIRC, the management pulled the power and there was a mini-“riot”.

Roger Waters, Potsdamer Platz 21st July 1990 – The wall live in Berlin. 350,000 people were there.

Pink Floyd, Earls Court 29th October 1994 – the last time the full (Gilmour-led) band ever played together, until Live8 of course.

Roger Waters, The O2, 12th May 2011 – Chuckles played The Wall and this was the night Gilmour and Mason turned up to play.

This Heat, Cafe OTO 12th February 2016 – Their first public appearance since 1982!


Now that is a box to tick.


David Bowie - Empire Pool Wembley 5th May 1976

First time Bowie had played in the UK for three years and three years in the 1970’s was an eternity.

The film Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel was the ‘support act’.


Always wished I’d been old enough to go to those Isolar Tour London dates…

I was 15 - the previous year I had ventured up to see Alice Cooper on the Welcome to my Nightmare Tour.

Travelling to London and over to Wembley in those days from the South East of Kent was like travelling to the moon with the possibility you might not get back.


Once slept in the phone box outside Fenchurch st station after seeing Santana……got the milk train home :grimacing:


Tin Machine - Brixton Academy 10th November 1991

Someone in the crowd threw a cigarette packet and it hit Bowie in the legendary eyes. He was taken off but like a trooper in true Bowie theatrics he came back on.


Bowie and Roxy Music at the Rainbow in August 1972 (I don’t know which night)

The opening night of the Grateful Dead’s European tour of 1972 at the Empire Pool, Wembley, and then at the Lyceum at the end. Although I had seen them in 1970 at the Hollywood Festival, Ashton-under-Lyme, I think the 1972 tour was historically significant.

Although the individual gig was not historically significant, seeing King Crimson in Oxford in June 1969, and knowing nothing about them, was to feel part of something new and exciting.


The Who at the Valley, Charlton Athletic’s ground, on 31 May 1976. The first gig in the Who Put the Boot In tour. It was the first concert I’d ever been to (I caught the train there, but my parents collected me afterwards). It was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as being the loudest concert ever. I assume that has been beaten now, but I saw a girl being led out with blood pouring from her ear. It was also the first time I’d ever seen LASERs.

Led Zeppelin at Knebworth, August 4 and 11, 1979. The latter was the last time they performed in the U.K., but I list both because the performance at the first weekend was the better of the two.

BB King in Bristol - can’t remember the date, but because we were supposed to be the support act (but for some reason got gazumped by the Payne Killers), I got to go backstage afterwards and meet the man.

Andrès Segovia at Bristol - again I can’t recall the date, but somehow I wangled a backstage pass and met the guy. A true guitar hero. He had massive, soft hands too.


Not sure which year - Ted Nugent once played a concert in Kansas City that was so loud he received complaints from farmers who lived eighteen miles away.


I ( vaguely) remember many similar days in my teenage years. Living just 20 ish miles outside of London in Hertfordshire and getting last minute tickets by phoning the venue on the day and just turning up. No thought of how to get home. Fortunately my older brothers trusty, but hand brake free, mini was often available. :grin: Empire pool, Olympia and Earls Court were the big ones, Rainbow the go to for smaller concerts, but often with later stadium filling bands. Where do youngsters see upcoming artists or bands these days?

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August 1969 - Hitchhiked to Woodstock with a friend from Boston. I spent more time out on the road than in the mud field but it was a great experience for a couple of teenagers.

The following August I was at Paris Island attending boot camp marching to the beat of a different drummer.


When you were travelling to Woodstock how long did it click that the concert wasn’t in Woodstock but 50 miles away on a farm in Bethel.

Interested as a mate and me went to Woodstock a few years back and were surprised we were no where near the legendary concert site.

In 1976 i had been 2 years in on a sound engineers training with Virgin records. When i started with Virgin i was told to sign up with London sound and light because i would get loads of experience with live gigs, which i did.
In 76 i was asked by LSL to do Knebworth for Roy Harper. I thought it was odd because he wasn’t on the list, but took the job anyway. On the day, it was the first live gig i had done using a line array system, so was very nervous. The set with Roy went well and i was getting ready to leave the mixing tent and a tap on the shoulder happened. I turned round and Harvey Goldsmith was there along with a guy i didn’t know. Harvey said to me that this guys band had lost their engineer earlier because he broke his leg and would i do their set. I agreed, but had no idea who the band/artist was. The guy with Harvey was Ronnie Van Zant, the band was Lynyrd Skynyrd. You could ask yourself why Harvey Goldsmith tapped my shoulder, the answer, as i found out later was because he and Alex Cooley shared artists depending on what side of the Atlantic they were touring.
Anyway, i engineered that set from start to finish and enjoyed every second of it. I was learning and adapting all the way through it using gain and decay a hell of a lot to start with, i also kept running to the back of the tent to hear what it sounded like behind me (line array).
Everything they played was the first time i had heard it, along with 10’s of 1000’s of others. When they finally played Freebird, i was in awe…
As far as i now know, it’s accepted that Skynyrd’s Knebworth gig in 76 was the best live gig they have ever done. One more note, they absolutely blew the Rolling Stones off the stage.


We made it to the concert with a ride from the third car that picked us up and they were heading to the same destination. When we were several miles away from the destination the New York State Police had set up roadblocks and stopped any other vehicles from entering the area. So Stanley and I started walking and found that cars and trucks in the zone were picking people up or letting you ride with them or just hang on to get closer to the concert site. Slept on the ground night one, on the hood of a car on night two, back seat of a car on night three. The people in town and those attending were fantastic and being young and dumb was helpful. I lost touch with Stanley on Day 2 and did not see him again until a week later when he got back to Boston. I lucked out and found someone heading to Boston and got a ride all the way back. The field out in front of the stage turned into a sea of mud so spent more time out on the road and the whole area was a party and adventure.


Legendary - to be part of that really is rock n’ roll history.

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Thank you for playing a major role in one of the greatest live sets tha I’ve ever experienced.

Nirvana at Reading.

Don’t care what anyone says it was absolutely diabolical by the way.