Vinyl, HBO’s latest original series from Mick Jagger, Rich Cohen, and Martin Scorsese, documents Richie Finestra’s (Bobby Cannavale) efforts to save his record company from failure during the rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1970s. A time when you couldn’t simply download an MP3 of your favourite band’s latest single; the only way to experience new music was to buy a vinyl record or attend live gigs. In Vinyl, live music is the driving force of the show. In the Pilot alone we see A&R talent scout Jamie Vine (Juno Temple) sign British band ‘Nasty Bits’, fronted by none other than James Jagger, after seeing them perform a live set, whilst Richie watches from backstage as Led Zeppelin take to the stage to wow a crowd with some of the greatest guitar playing of all time, leaving nostalgic viewers praying for the good ol’ days.
As we finally creep into the summer months, iPods, MP3 players and walkmans alike will be cast aside and live music will re-emerge to the forefront of the British music scene. So in anticipation of the impending festival-packed summer, and to celebrate the release of Vinyl: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD on 6th June, we take a look at some of the most iconic live musical performances of all time. Here is our ultimate festival line up…
Date: June 16, 1967
Location: Monterey Pop Festival, California
Despite his rapidly growing popularity in Europe, Jimi Hendrix had yet to make a real impact on the US music scene. However, at the height of the Summer of Love he stepped in front of a crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival and changed all of that. His show embodied everything you would expect from a rock concert during the 60s – including the star’s most iconic moment on stage where he dry humped his guitar, set it on fire, and smashed it to pieces.
The Rolling Stones
Date: December 6, 1969
Location: Altamont Speedway Free Festival, California
The Rolling Stone’s free performance at the Altamont Speedway is remembered nowadays for all the wrong reasons. Instead of bouncers a handful of Hell’s Angels were hired to maintain peace throughout the festival, resulting in a number of fights and the stabbing of Meredith Hunter. The show is now seen to represent the death of the optimistic hippie spirit of the 60s, dampening the impact of the amazing tunes that had been played over the course of the day.
Date: August 10-11, 1996
Location: Knebworth Festival
Back when they could actually stand the sight of one another the Gallagher brothers played two nights in front of the biggest crowds Knebworth Festival had ever seen. Their performance separated them from all other 90s rock bands and marked their transition into superstardom. Their legendary status would ultimately cause the demise of the band, but it is nice to look at a time where the only thing that mattered was the music.
Date: August 8, 1989
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
Looking back through the annals of Hip Hop history it is impossible to ignore the impact N.W.A. had on the scene. The controversial views expressed in their music document the hardships of life on the streets of Compton, California. While playing a show in Detroit, the group was told not to perform one of their hits, F *** the Police. Employing their right to freedom of speech they played it at the end of their concert, subsequently resulting in their arrest and riots outside the venue.
Date: August 30, 1992
Location: Reading Festival, UK
This is one of numerous legendary performances from Nirvana that happened to come at a time where Kurt Cobain was being labelled as an over-hyped druggie by British sceptics. In classic Cobain fashion he combated his critics by being rolled out on stage in a wheelchair and collapsing after trying to stand up. When he did finally get to his feet he broke out into song and gave one of the best festival performances of all time – setting the standard for the many bands to come.
Date: June 28, 2009
Location: Glastonbury Festival, UK
Here is one of the few performances on this list that isn’t associated with launching the band into stardom. In 2008 Blur announced the end of its hiatus and the reunion of all original members. After a number of successful shows they fully marked their comeback on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Their performance went down amazingly and is still hailed as one of the best ever headlining acts the festival has ever seen.
Date: August 29, 1970
Location: Isle of Wight Festival, UK
The record for the most attended live performance of the time was shattered when over half a million fans packed onto the Isle of Wight to get a glimpse of the renowned English rockers. The concert kicked off at 2am and covered a number of already established hits as well as new ones to come. The incredible outing was documented and released as a double outing, making the historic night something you can relive as many times as you please.
Date: May 16, 1983
Location: Motown 25, Pasadena, California
Michael Jackson was no longer a Motown artist when their 25th anniversary show came around. However, that didn’t stop him from showing up with his brothers and sisters to play a few hits from their Jackson 5 days before continuing on with his own solo material. He played “Billie Jean”, which was top of the charts at the time, and treated the studio audience to his first ever on-stage moonwalk. The hundreds of live performances of the song that followed became formatted on the groundbreaking routine witnessed at this ceremony.
Date: June 28, 2001
Location: Summer Jam, Uniondale, New York
By 2001 Jay Z had already taken the Hip-Hop world by storm and established himself as one of the most dominating players in the east coast scene… and this is before The Blueprint was even released. His Summer Jam outing was one that will never be forgotten thanks to an entertaining performance including a Michael Jackson cameo and big screen diss to Mobb Deep. Jay Z’s 2008 Glastonbury show also demonstrated how the rapper can roll with any crowd after he opened the show with a rendition of Oasis’ Wonderwall, a massive slap-back following the band’s widely publicised criticism of the decision to announce Jay-Z as the (traditionally) rock festival’s headlining act.
Date: July 13, 1985
Location: Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, London
By the early 80s it seemed that Queen had run out of steam. The fact their set was sandwiched between more relevant bands of the time meant that not much was expected of them when they stepped on the stage at Wembley Arena. However, what the audience got was an eccentric performance that completely stole the show. The crowd witnessed the renewal of the bands former legacy in a short set exploding with charisma and passion.
Date: August 27, 2005
Location: Reading Festival, Reading, UK
It was a questionable decision by the festival organisers to put one of the most hyped bands of the summer in a small tent for a mid-day slot. But that didn’t stop a massive crowd from testing the seams of the tent by packing it wall to wall in order to witness Alex Turner and his crew do what they do best. The Arctic Monkeys went on to headline the festival the following year, making this the perfect “I was there before they were mainstream” moments.
Date: April 15, 2012
Location: Coachella, California
One of the most memorable Coachella moments of all time came via one of the most surprising guest appearances of all time. 19 years after his tragic death, Tupac Shakur was brought back to life by the magic of technology to perform alongside Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre in remarkably realistic routine that leaves us wondering why all of our fallen legends can’t be brought back like this!
Vinyl: The Complete First Season is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 6th June 2016, courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment. Enter our competition to win Vinyl Box Set here.