Top Festival Appearances Ever
When it comes to performances at festivals, Queen’s set at 1985’s Live Aid tops a Toronto Sun list of the Top Music Festival Performances of All-Time.
“There’s no better example of a frontman having the crowd in the palm of his hand than Freddie Mercury at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 13th, 1985. In what will go down as one of the greatest live performances in rock history, the English rockers breeze through a six-song greatest hits set in rapid fire succession. Mercury, acting as a choirmaster, leads the 72,000 in attendance in an unforgettable sing-along.”
2) Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. “We all know him now as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. But in June of 1967, a clearly stoned axeman played to a large — and also very stoned — U.S. crowd for the first time. The reaction on the faces in attendance is priceless — some with their mouths wide open, and some just tripping at the set they’re taking in. It all culminates in Hendrix’s now-infamous guitar burning finale.”
3) The Rolling Stones at Altamont in 1969. “This is memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was dubbed as the official end to the Peace & Love generation. In what was supposed to be the Stones version of Woodstock, the vibe of this free concert turned dark when, earlier on in the day-long rock festival, Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer Marty Balin was punched and knocked out by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who were inexplicably acting as security for the event (for a reported $500 worth of beer). As the Stones hit the stage, the tension increased, and during ‘Under My Thumb,’ a scuffle broke out which resulted in the stabbing death of a 18-year-old boy.”
4) U2 at Live Aid in London – 1985. “The eager Irish foursome were on the cusp of superstardom, and already had a arena-sized following after the release of 1984’s Unforgettable Fire. The powerful showing at Bob Geldof’s Ethiopian famine relief benefit put them over the top. Frontman Bono, during an extended version of ‘Bad,’ pulled a woman out of the crowd and danced with her briefly. The incident caused a frenzy at the front of the stage, but connected with the millions watching. It also caused the band to skip the third scheduled song, ‘Pride (In the Name of Love),’ because they went over their allotted time.”
5) Janis Joplin at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967. “It will be forever known as her coming out party. Joplin, a relative unknown, appeared as a member of Big Brother and The Holding Company, blew everyone away with her intense set, topped by a snarly version of ‘Ball & Chain.’ The set ends and the camera pans to Mamas & the Papas star Mama Cass mouthing, “Wow, that’s really heavy.” The band were immediately signed to a contract after the show.”