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Top 10 Live Bands of All Time

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by George Pacheco With the amps turned to 11, and these bands on stage, you know that you'll be getting your money's worth. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Live Musical Bands of All Time. For this list, we're ranking the most popular, energetic and influential live musical acts of all time, based upon their proven ability to deliver their music to the masses on a consistent basis. Special thanks to our users Brian Wolff, Sirliambradford, danthephotoman, Nayon, a7xfoREVer and Johnnyd42 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest.

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Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Live Bands of All Time

With the amps turned to 11, and these bands on stage, you know that you'll be getting your money's worth. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Live Musical Bands of All Time.

For this list, we’re ranking the most popular, energetic and influential live musical acts of all time, based upon their proven ability to deliver their music to the masses on a consistent basis. If you’re looking for more modern bands, be sure to look out for our list of Top 10 Current LiveBands. Now without further ado, let’s get on with the show.

#10: The Who

When it comes to live performances, there’s showmanship...and then, there’s The Who. This British rock institution carved a career out of legendary live performances which balanced the stability of John Entwhistle with the wildness of Keith Moon and the dynamic energy of Roger Daltrey with Pete Townshend’s famous and often imitated windmill strums. Amid sheer destruction and perfectly crafted songs there's also that iconic 1967 televised performance of “My Generation”, when Moon’s double dose of explosives in his drum kit caused a blast which allegedly lead to Townshend’s developing tinnitus years later.

#9: Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne

Rock ‘n Roll became a whole lot darker when Black Sabbath hit the scene. Giving birth to the doomy and gloomy sound of heavy metal, Sabbath’s powerful live performances throughout the 1970s proved that dark studio albums didn’t necessarily translate to boring concerts. A lot of this success in the live arena could be attributed to the band’s frontman John “Ozzy” Osbourne, whose forceful presence behind the microphone could only be described as completely magnetic. Ozzy would only continue to cultivate his showmanship throughout his solo career and numerous reunions with Black Sabbath, making him a show onto himself.

#8: AC/DC

We have just two words to say when it comes to describing the focal point of AC/DC’s longevity as a live act: Angus. Young. The younger brother of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, Angus’ schoolboy costume, blistering lead guitar work and iconic take on Chuck Berry’s “duck walk” has led the AC/DC axeman hopping into the hearts of rock fans all over the world. Of course, there is more to AC/DC than just Angus. While the band has gone through a considerable amount of line-up changes, the energy of their live shows has continuously blown us away tour after tour.

#7: Iron Maiden

This next group has always delivered the goods live, but the legend that is Iron Maiden has also did something a bit more challenging: they’ve captured imaginations. Chalk it up to Maiden’s thinking man’s lyrics referencing famous works of literature and film, or maybe it’s the Air Raid Siren vocals of frontman Bruce Dickinson, but fans of this iconic British metal institution have grown to expect an emotional connection every time the band performs live. Oh, and there’s also the fact that Maiden themselves happen to be some of the most captivating musicians of their era, particularly band leader and bassist Steve Harris.

#6: Led Zeppelin

There was always a cult of mystery and mysticism surrounding the members of Led Zeppelin, particularly guitarist Jimmy Page, whose enigmatic presence and live magnetism made these rockers a must see. Of course, Page’s partner in crime Robert Plant deserves additional props, thanks to his lion-maned, swaggering sex god persona practically setting the template for hard rock lead singers, while the rhythm section of bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham dizzied the audience with their off-the-charts musical prowess. Led Zep is oneof rock’s most celebrated recipes for success and a hard act to follow.

#5: The Rolling Stones

With a live show that only grows bigger as they age, The Stones themselves are one of the most naturally cohesive units you’re ever likely to catch live, from the co-guitar work of Ronnie Wood to the rock solid, perfect drumming of Charlie Watts. But it’s no secret that creative friction between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards has led to what is essentially two electrifying presences on stage, fighting for the audience’s attention. There are worse problems for a band to have.

#4: Bruce Springsteen

The name “Bruce Springsteen” has become virtually synonymous at this point with passionate, sweaty, life-affirming live performances, thanks largely to the reputation this New Jersey native earned during his concerts in the 1970s and 80s. Fan favorite Springsteen tracks “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Born in the U.S.A.” have grown to full icon status over the years, as Bruce and his E Street Band have delivered show after show of performances which sometimes literally left everything out there on the stage floor. Trust us, a Springsteen show has to be seen in person to truly understand its raw, visceral power.

#3: U2

Very few bands provide the sort of immersive, interactive experience in the live arena quite like Ireland’s U2. This smart, creative and politically active band have always presented their concerts as an opportunity to connect with their audience on an intellectual level, while simultaneously commenting on such issues as consumerism or sensory overload with their PopMart and ZooTV tours. What’s particularly great about the band, however, is how they combine this high mindedness with perfect musicianship and a dedication to providing the best possible show for their scores of rabid fans.

#2: Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd's studio work was known for big ideas and even bigger sounds but they became so much larger on stage. Interested in bringing visual stimulation even in their early days, Floyd upped their game adding advanced quadraphonic sound systems, sound effects, lights, and props to the live show. Behind all the gimmickry were talented musicians who at their best created simulating and fan-satisfying works like “The Wall,” “Animals,” “Dark Side of the Moon” and more importantly captured the imaginations of millions on their respective tours.

Before we reveal our top pick for the number one live musical act, here are a few honorable mentions!
- Metallica
- Grateful Dead
- Def Leppard
- Rage Against the Machine

#1: Queen

Do we even have to explain this? Just watching this legendary footage from Queen’s conquering performance at the Live Aid festival is enough to convince almost anyone that Freddie Mercury and the boys were the best live musical act of all time. Momentarily setting aside Mercury’s proven ability as rock’s most triumphant and visually stunning frontman, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor were also musical virtuosos, able to effortlessly keep up with backing and lead vocals while Mercury held the crowd in the palm of his hand with his inimitable, almost effortless style.

Do you agree with our list? What are your picks for the all time live musical acts? For more fun top 10 lists, published every day, please subscribe to!

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