Top 10 Most Iconic Gigs Ever

The votes have been counted, and we're proud to present your official UG top live shows ever, complete with videos. Enjoy!

Top 10 Most Iconic Gigs Ever
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As usual, you were masters at picking out the best performances, and it's made for a seriously hot top 10 this week.

With that in mind, it's time to sit back, hook up your TV to your laptop, and enjoy watching the most iconic live shows ever. Enjoy!

10. Led Zeppelin at Royal Albert Hall (1970)

In the words of Jimmy Page, the Royal Albert Hall (which usually plays host to orchestras and operas) was "at the time the largest and most prestigious gig in London." We're glad their manager Peter Grant arranged to film the performance, even if it wasn't released at the time, because its epic DVD release in 2003 introduced a whole new generation to the wonders of Led Zeppelin.

9. Rage Against The Machine on Wall Street (2000)

When the band decided to play on Wall Street for the video to "Sleep Now In The Fire", they gathered 300 fans and stormed the doors of the New York Stock Exchange. "Our protest stopped trading at the stock exchange for the last two hours of the day," said guitarist Tom Morello who returned to Wall Street more recently to support the Occupy movement.

8. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1967)

Ever since writing "Folsom Prison Blues" in 1955, Cash always wanted to perform at a prison. By 1967 his career had taken a downturn because of his drug abuse, and in a bid to rebrand himself the label arranged a performance at Folsom prison itself. The resulting album was a huge success and went Gold in 1968.

7. The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show (1964)

The British musical invasion on the US began when The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. It drew 73 million viewers - a figure modern TV producers can only dream of. The audience went so wild that there was a crush as they pushed towards the stage, and set a precedent for young women to scream at their musical idols for decades to come.

6. Nirvana Unplugged on MTV (1993)

With Kurt Cobain suffering from drug withdrawal at the time, this legendary acoustic set almost didn't happen. "There was no joking, no smiles, no fun coming from him... everyone was more than a little worried about his performance," said one observer. With two days rehearsal practise, the band pulled together a 14-song set featuring six covers, and asked that the stage be decorated like a funeral. Cobain's version of songs like David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Lead Belly often rank high in charts of the best covers ever.

5. Iron Maiden "Live After Death"

The "World Slavery" tour lasted 331 days, prompting the band to request the rest of 1985 off to take a break before continuing recording. "I never thought it was going to end ... I began to feel like I was a piece of machinery, like I was part of the lighting rig," said frontman Bruce Dickinson. The "Live After Death" shows, which were later released as a live album, were recorded in London in England and Long Beach in California.

4. Pink Floyd "The Wall"

The Wall was Roger Waters' brainchild, basing the character in this theatrical tale after himself and original singer Syd Barrett. Okay, so like the Iron Maiden entry it's not one show, but the staging and effects are so spectacular that any appearance of The Wall is historic.

3. Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock (1969)

This two-hour set was the longest of his career. Critics say this performance encapsulated the 1960s movement, and his masterful control of amp feedback to emulate the sound of falling rockets captivated fans. People thought the sounds were a political statement against the Vietnam War, but Jimi later clarified: "We're all Americans... it was like 'Go America!' ...We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see." Whatever that means.

2. Metallica in Seattle (1989)

This was one of the first large arena concerts ever, but it was memorable for so much more that its size. It later appeared on their live album "Live Sh-t: Bing And Purge". This semi-documentary footage tells the story much better than we ever could:

1. Marty McFly at School Dance

Oh you guys! Looks like Marty's performance of "Johnny B. Goode" is your favorite gig of all time. Guess you had to be there, right? But seriously, this scene was an interesting idea because Chuck Berry's song was such a powerful influence on the future of rock at the time. Having a nod from Hollywood like this was very cool indeed - but not as cool as Marty's hoverboard.

Thanks for all your votes, that was an awesome list. We hope you enjoy watching the videos over the weekend.

Which shows do you think should have made the grade? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

190 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Johnny_Ibanez
    "Critics say this performance encapsulated the 1060s movement" Yeah, King Harold really dug his wah work.
    N-D
    Bravo!) Thank you for your ingenious comment - I really laughed!))) Fixed)))
    bulusvanua
    I'm kinda surprised that Queen's Live Aid performance isn't there. Can't argue with the ones that made it though.
    Strummerboy Leo
    That Back to the Future clip doesn't have Marty's solo freakout at the end, which is half the reason that movie's so awesome.
    Metal-pro
    Metallica in Seattle in 89'.. excellent!
    rockfreak611
    one of my favorite concerts ever, but hardly "iconic", especially when Queen at Live Aid and the Beatles' Rooftop concert got snubbed.
    HarrySound
    It's my favorite gig of all time.....but then this is only Ultimate Guitar, who cares whos gets snubbed.
    ToolCreedence
    Not an "iconic" gig
    6-String_Madman
    I was about to scold you for your blasphemy but seeing that you live up to your username for being a "Tool", I told myself... "huh, just a waste of time."
    gkex
    So then you wasted even more of your time by creating a "clever" insult instead of sticking to a blunt one?
    KnotParkDay
    "but not as cool as Marty's overboard ." Oh for God's sake, UG.
    N-D
    An excellent list! I personally would have included a few more gigs, but then it would no longer Top 10) Great!
    Rokodlak
    again some retard made list,ram before zep,nirvana before beatles,metallica before hendrix FU retard who made this...gimme more - ill still win
    iommi600
    FUUUU. [Insert band from 40 years ago] is better than [Insert band from 10/20 years ago]. FUU "Classic Rock" is better than [insert any other genre of music].
    KISSmyass666
    That Led Zeppelin Show is Awesome.
    RndyW0
    So glad they've actually got that full gig up. I have the DVD but it's good to see that they have the full gig still.
    merafta
    I'm also surpised that Queen's Live Aid performance isn't there, but there's a lot of great memorable gigs here. Also, I LOVE MARTY MCFLY!
    Dr. Knox666
    Haha McFly number 1! That's just great. And now I have to facepalm myself 'cause when I voted I completely forgot Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, DAMN!
    Studebaker Hoch
    Same here...I would have voted for that also.
    Dr. Knox666
    Well I actually didn't vote for McFly I just think it's hilarious, I love that ****in movie! My vote actually was Metallica in Seattle and Pantera at Monsters of Rock 1991. That's a really great list IMO.
    brndnstffrd
    In the Hendrix part: "Critics say this performance encapsulated the 1060s movement" Damn Hendrix was more influential then i thought.
    dennis.1960
    I knew he was influential after he became famous, I didn't know he was influential before as well!
    dmperr
    Can't believe you didn't include the Beatles rooftop concert at Apple Records just before breaking up.