Ice Cold Shows: The Top 7 Coolest Live Performances in History

by Quincy Tejani, Music Connoisseur


Jimi Hendrix burning his “axe” during his Monterey Pop Festival performance. (1967)

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There is nothing cooler than a pumped up, passionate musician who gets up on stage for a couple of hours and absolutely tears down the house. These types of soul shattering, mind bending performances are few and far between but for those who are lucky enough to have witnessed them will attest that these experiences are damn near spiritual. Here’s a list of 7 times when cool doesn’t even come close to describing what these artists were able to do on stage:

7. Guns n’ Roses| Live at The Ritz| 1988

Back when MTV still did music, Guns n’ Roses were hot off of releasing their chart smashing album Appetite for Destruction. This show catches on film the rowdy, “who gives a shit” attitude that made the roses the success that they were. And say what you will about Axl Rose but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who see’s him howling “Welcome to the Jungle” up on that stage and can say he isn’t damn cool.

6. Bob Dylan| Newport Folk Festival| 1965

A much different kind of cool than the former entry, at this particular show Bob Dylan is said to have “Electrified half of the audience and electrocuted the other half.” People were pissed off that Dylan decided to bring electric rock and roll to a folk festival. The music star basically responded by saying “Toss off” and doing the show anyway. It has later been remarked that this was one of the greatest and most rebellious moments of Dylan’s career.

5. Jay-Z| Glastonbury| 2008

Everyone already knows that Jay-Z is one of the coolest dudes in hip-hop. However, when he was slated to headline the Glastonbury festival in 2008 many artists, including Britain rock stars Oasis, were none to pleased. In response not only did Jay-Z put on one of his best shows but he also fans the flames by covering a comical sounding “Wonderwall”.

4. Michael Jackson| Motown 25| 1983

Although he was no longer signed to Motown, on this occasion Michael reunited with the Jackson 5 to celebrate the 25th birthday of his childhood label. This show is widely considered Michael’s breakthrough solo performance and is the moment where he first performed his world renowned moon walk. This show was so remarkable that Michael designed every Billie Jean performance afterwards to resemble it.

3. Nirvana| MTV Unplugged in New York| 1993

There are some things in this world that are known facts. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim and Nirvana is freakin’ cool. I don’t want to hear any arguments. Possibly one of their coolest moments was when the hard rockers put down their electric guitars and drumsticks and picked up acoustic guitars and maracas. Throughout this unplugged show their renditions of hits like “Come as You Are” and “All Apologies” as well as covers of Meat Puppets songs show just how versatile Nirvana could be.

2. The Beatles| Rooftop of Apple Corps| 1969

The Beatles were not only the biggest band in the world during the swinging sixties but they also refused to play live during the latter half of their career. So how did the mop tops decide to reintroduce themselves to the public? Why, playing an unannounced show in the middle of the day on top of a roof of course. It turned out to be their last live gig and for that reason makes the show that much more legendary. Not only did it basically mark the end of the Beatles as a group, but the show marked the end of the “Flower Power” era in a lot of people’s minds.

1. Jimi Hendrix| Monterey Pop Festival| 1967

Although it is Woodstock and not The Monterey that is remembered as the seminal music event of the 60’s (and it may very well be) people often downplay the importance of the ’67 festival in terms of it’s effect on pop culture. And who put on the best performance at this festival? Well, no one would argue with you if you said that it was Jimi Hendrix. During his last song “Wild Thing”, Hendrix famously poured oil on his guitar, lit it on fire and threw the remains into the crowd. With this move Hendrix solidified himself as a rock god and one of the coolest mo’fo’s ever to set foot on stage.


Twitter: @thevioletwave

Quincy Tejani is the co-founder of The Violet Wave and is also editor of music. When he’s not listening to or writing about music you can probably find him walking through the forests of Ontario or watching football. He also never turns down a cold Pabst… never.

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