Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Top Ten Live Acts of All Time – Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Top Ten Live Acts of All Time

Springsteen is Number One, with the Rolling Stones and The Who following closely behind

Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Top Ten Live Acts of All Time

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Springsteen is Number One, with the Rolling Stones and The Who following closely behind

Play video

7. Queen

Live Aid had one of the most impressive line-ups ever: The Who, Led Zeppelin, U2, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Neil Young and many more. It was Queen, however, that completely stole the show. By that point they were among the best live bands on the planet. When punk and new wave bands were stripping down their shows, Queen were glamming them up as much as possible. Driving the whole thing was Freddie Mercury, who thrived in the spotlight like no performer before or since. Since his death Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor have carried on with Paul Rodgers and other frontmen, but they'd probably be the first to say that recapturing the magic of the original is completely impossible.

Play video

8. Pearl Jam

When you see Pearl Jam you never quite know what kind of show you're going to get. Sometimes they play all the early hits like "Jeremy," "Black" and "Alive," while the very next night be mainly deep tracks from Yield, Riot Act and No Code. Regardless of what they perform, Pearl Jam approaches every show with a Springsteen-like level of passion and respect for their fans. They go out of their way to make each show special, often extending out the encores for well over an hour. It's one reason why they continue to pack giant venues without radio hits or much media mainstream attention.

Play video

9. The Grateful Dead

What more can be said about the Grateful Dead? During their 30-year odyssey they built up a devoted fanbase unrivaled in rock history, and basically invented a whole new genre of music. While most bands of their era were playing rehearsed shows with a very strict setlist, the Grateful Dead played epic shows that changed radically from night to night. Luckily, almost all of it was documented by tapers – leading to endless debates about when the band peaked. In Europe 1972 at very tail end of the Pigpen era? How about the American tour in fall of 1978? Some say it was all downhill after 1968, while others point to the early Eighties as an underappreciated time of wonder. Regardless, the surviving members of the band continue to tour today in constantly shifting permutations and the fans continue to follow them around the country.

Play video

10. Kiss

Kiss knows exactly what their audience wants: explosions, fireballs, loud guitars and lots of hits. It's the reason why a Kiss show from 1975 isn't that different than one today, even though they've replaced two of the original members. The band said farewell in 2000, but everybody knew that was bullshit: They were back on the road three years later and have been touring ever since. Fans (rightfully) bitch about the absence of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, but that doesn't stop many of them from buying tickets.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.