The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years

From Led Zeppelin's U.S. debut to Jay Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' spectacle, and beyond

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Radiohead at Glastonbury
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Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty38/50

Radiohead at Glastonbury

The scene Radiohead encountered at 1997's Glastonbury Festival looked more like a war zone than a concert. It had been pouring rain for days, forcing the 90,000 fans at the remote field in Somerset, England, to live like refugees in a monsoon. Two stages sank into the mud, and some fans actually came down with the World War I–era malady trench foot. Early in Radiohead's set, Thom Yorke's monitor melted down. The lighting rig was shining directly into his face, meaning he couldn't see in addition to being unable to hear himself play. "If I'd found the guy who was running the PA system that day," Yorke told a journalist, "I would have gone backstage and throttled him. Everything was going wrong. Everything blew up."

Weeks after releasing their career-defining album, OK Computer, it looked like Radiohead might flop during a headlining set at the world's biggest music festival. Instead, the chaos inspired one of the band's greatest performances. Rage poured through Yorke all night long, giving extra fire to eight songs from OK Computer, plus nearly all of The Bends – and even a crowd-pleasing version of their first hit, "Creep." It was a transcendent performance, even if Yorke didn't realize it at the time. "I thundered offstage at the end, really ready to kill," he said. "And my girlfriend grabbed me, made me stop, and said, 'Listen!' And the crowd were just going wild. It was amazing." In 2006, Q magazine voted it the greatest concert in British history. A.G.

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