40 best live acts in the world 2015
Festival season is here once again, and with another summer of sunshine, rain and alcohol in store for many of us, there's no better time to announce the winner of MusicRadar's best live act in the world 2015 poll.
Yes, the votes have been counted and verified, the acts put in their place, and now all that's left is for you to read on and discover who is this year's top-drawer live draw…
Just when it looked like dubstep had performed patricide on it’s drum ’n’ bass dad, Rudimental brought DnB crashing back into the limelight in chart-friendly form.
A talent for body-popping mega drops, hit-making song craft and a little black book the size of the Yellow Pages have given rise to one monstrous live show.
Along with death and taxes, the third irrefutable fact of life in 2015 is that Pharrell will have had a hand in approximately 50% of the chart-topping material on any given week.
2014’s Girl has brought him further renown and also several fabulous hats, both of which he rolls out with gusto in the live arena.
In 2015, The Strokes appear to have finally hit on a run of form that channels their garage rock fire into an arena platform with some consistency.
Their appearance at this year’s BST Festival in London is already discussed in ‘you had to be there’ terms, and performances across the pond have received equally rapturous approval.
They may hail from the midlands, but Kasabian’s brand of hip-shaking rock ’n’ roll show is inspired by the great Northern swaggerers of the 90s.
If you enjoy zipping your coat to the throat, swinging your arms and swaying to electronic rock in a manner that suggests approaching you is ill-advised, welcome home.
This year's Super Bowl performance – the most watched in history – cemented Ms Perry as a bona fide force to be reckoned with, and with a stage show that encompasses pyramids, inflatable cars and giant birthday cakes, we're not ones to argue.
The former Mercury darlings are dominating this year's festival circuit, and with good reason: their blend of art-y rock and electronica produces an almighty live experience, provided you block the fact that the band named themselves after a Mac keyboard shortcut from your mind.
Yes, Blur have that critically-lauded new album that we all agree is very good, but live even the bespectacled super-fans are basically waiting for Song 2, thanks very much chaps.
There’s No Other Way, Girls And Boys, Beetlebum, The Universal, Coffee And TV, Tender, Parklife, End Of A Century - recent setlists have been hit-heavy, to say the least.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Provided you’re not related to him, it’s pretty difficult to have a bad Noel Gallagher live experience.
When it’s going well, you’ll get a combination of High Flying material, psychedelic mind-expanders like Riverman, and Noel’s choice of Oasis hits - which is all of them; when it’s not… well, he’ll tell you himself.
Mumford & Sons
They were once part of the nu-folk revolution, but there’s nothing Peter, Paul & Mary about this raucous West London quartet, especially given their recent shift towards Coldplay-esque arena anthems.
Still, their concert sets remain stomping, unhinged sweat-fests, sending audiences into joyous states of rhapsody as they dance in the aisles and sing along to every word.
She's a wild one, that Lady that some people (but not many, admittedly) call Gaggles. But man, does she know how to put on a show.
Four-to-the-floor pop anthems might not be your preferred mode of aural enjoyment, but pair them to a stage show that's weird, wild and never less than thoroughly over the top and you'll understand why the Lady is so far ahead of the game.
Kanye totally proves the rule - prominent in hip-hop - that the more detached from reality you are, the more exciting a performer you become.
Sure, his headline slot at Glastonbury may have ruffled a few conservative festival-goers' feathers, but when he’s performing overblown stage shows complete with troupes of ballet dancers in tow, it seems churlish to complain.
The Black Keys
Few bands can pull off garage blues-rock with the integrity, authenticity and passion of The Black Keys.
Since 2010, the Ohio duo have expanded into a four-piece on stage, but Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney still perform with the vigour and intensity of a two-piece hungry for success.
Annie Clarke is a law unto herself, wringing an obscene level of fuzz from her guitar and relishing in the theatricality of the stage. She also rocks hard, as evidenced from her stint fronting Nirvana at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, but most importantly, her unique brand of funk-heavy odd-pop is guaranteed to get you dancing, even if you end up looking a little like a malfunctioning robot.
Between the delicate vocals of enigmatic frontwoman Beth Gibbons, the hip hop-informed electronics of Geoff Barrow, and the soundtrack-like guitar of Adrian Utley, Bristol-based outfit Portishead remain one of the UK’s most captivating and unique live acts. You'd be hard-pressed to find another band that can create atmosphere like they can.
It’s the return of the Mac (once again). 40 years after Mick Fleetwood and John McVie’s revamped pop lineup released their second self-titled album, the band remain one of the most popular live acts in the world. Tickets for their recent jaunts are like Gold Dust women.
Yep, all that racket's coming from bass 'n' drums. Through a combination of a roadie-worrying backline and an arsenal of octave pedals, Mike Kerr produces a gut-punching, devastating sound, and combined with Ben Thatcher's swift sticksmanship, Royal Blood's live show has won audiences over worldwide - Lars Ulrich, Jimmy Page and Tom Morello included.
The teenage wasteland surveyed at a Who show may be somewhat greyer and wider across the middle than when the band first exploded into existence half a century ago, but Townshend and Daltrey are still capable of moments of magic.
Their recent 50th Anniversary tour has proved there’s still an exciting tension between the band’s two lynchpins and the fact it’s the last on this scale has made it all the more unmissable.
While he’s never been far from critical acclaim, Dan Snaith has been quietly getting on with actual ‘success’ for a while now.
2014’s Our Love has provided a new level of live opportunity and Caribou’s drum-laden show has a reputation for creating a euphoric, devoted and dance-happy following. Catch them at Latitude this summer.
The ever-prolific FlyLo’s fifth album You’re Dead! has spun him to new heights of popularity.
If the eclectic electric wizard’s mind-altering tunes don’t cause your brain to short-circuit, his recent live show will. His current onstage look can be described as ‘Batman Begins Scarecrow-trip chic’, while lights and ever-shifting visuals provide an ocular spectacular.
Pioneers of post-rock and currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, these raucous Scots have never once nudged their amps below 11. The sheer decibels make their gigs a cerebral, body-affecting experience, fraught with distortion and delay – just don't forget your earplugs.
She writes, sings, sells by the truckload, stands up for songwriters and spends her evenings fighting crime. On her nights off, Taylor Swift also puts on arena spectaculars.
Expect big budget pyrotechnics, feminist videos, epic dance numbers, costume changes and the kind of performance that only a grade-A, bonafide pop star can provide.
Liam Howlett’s electronic anarchists have consistently had a huge live following, but they remain near unique in their ability to span such a wide variety of sub-cultures and genres.
Bombastic beats, pyrotechnics and a back catalogue that rivals the British Library all help, of course. Catch them in the UK this November.
There's always been something about Jack White that could only be fully appreciated live. Sure, the records have always been ace, but up close and personal he's a different beast altogether.
Is it because of his lustrous hair? His long stride? Or, perhaps, his bleeding-fingers guitar work and frantic energy? Whatever it is, we like it, and so do you.
Faith No More
After a triumphant return at Download 2009, the alt-metal trailblazers have gone from strength to strength, finally releasing a new album - their first in 17 years - and touring the hell out of it.
Their live shows continue to be as raucous and unpredictable as those during the band's 90s heyday, with regular vocal freakouts from Mr Mike Patton, and formidable displays of onstage flower arranging.
All Eddie Vedder needs is a bottle of wine and a crowd, and since 1991, the audience has grown exponentially for Seattle’s most durable and consistently powerful band, whose live shows are nothing short of communal awakenings.
Deep cuts, B-sides, unreleased songs, The Who covers - anything goes at a PJ gig, with sets varying night to night and the aura of unpredictability making each performance a guaranteed once-in-a-lifetime concert experience.
His new music may be of variable quality, his tour dates unpredictable and online marketing strategy impossible to fathom, but when Prince gets up on stage he knows exactly what he's doing.
Famed for his marathon sets and even longer aftershow gigs, the man from Minneapolis is never less than captivating, whichever instrument he happens to be playing.
The man, the hat, the Les Paul… Slash’s guitar theatrics and killer collab with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators continues to dazzle on stage and off.
GnR songs liberally pepper the set, but it’s Slash’s carefully chosen conspirators that prevent his vibrant live show from being another nostalgia run.
Although The Beatles called it quits as a live act in 1966, since the late 80s, Paul McCartney has been a touring machine, performing his chunk of the world’s greatest songbook with the energy (and voice) of a man half his age (an average set clocks in at two-and-a-half hours and features 20 or so Fab Four gems).
In 2002, he assembled a stellar band that includes guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist and bassist Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Paul Wickens, a tight-knit group that delivers the goods with considerable brio. Oh, yeah, did we say something about the songs?
U2 have made their mark as one of the most consistently passionate live acts in history, but what’s surprising about their success is how they’ve managed to make over their show - in fact, their entire band aesthetic - with each tour.
Their current iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour (their caps, not ours) encompasses 70 dates across the globe, in support of an album that was thrust upon iTunes users, meeting considerable resistance in the process - few would turn down the band's consistently impressive live show, though.
The Rolling Stones
With a combined age of 7,000, the Stones are still one of the biggest live draws on the planet. Yes, they wear comfortable shoes and look like they could do with an early night these days (apart from Mick Jagger, whose deal with the devil remains apparently intact), but they've still got it.
Their Glastonbury headline slot in 2013 cemented the legend, and continues with a run of 2015 dates celebrating seminal album Sticky Fingers.
Still the masters of the mighty metal stage show, Slipknot's masks, uniforms and tunes retain the power to drive metal fans into a frenzy. Sure, we all know that behind all the theatrics is a bunch of thoroughly professional chaps doing a good job of work, but let's not destroy the illusion, eh?
Manic Street Preachers
The Manics are becoming one of those Duracell Bunny bands, cast in the Rolling Stones mould.
Their acclaimed 2014/15 tour has seen them reviving their spiky, vitriolic masterpiece The Holy Bible, before rolling out a varied second set later in the night - all proving there’s life in those batteries yet…
The fact that Metallica have released countless live albums, DVDs, EPs and boxsets in their career indicates that they're pretty confident in their stagecraft, and those who have witnessed their countless tour and festival appearances will have felt the full force of their back catalogue - which is a very good thing, given we're still waiting on the follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic.
See them strut their heavy stuff at Reading and Leeds this year.
One man's pompous rock prat is another's strutting titan, and so it goes with Muse. The one completely unquestionable thing about this band is that anyone who has ever seen them will tell you, within a split second of their mention, that they are amazing live.
They pack 'em in all around the world, so the word on the street is obviously correct - they do indeed rock like nobody's business, as evidenced by their recent Download headline slot. Not bad for three blokes from Devon.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The powerhouse pairing of guitarist Ben Weinman and singer Greg Puciato created a recipe for one of the most volatile acts in modern metal, with onstage movements as violent as the riffery and time signature shifts that make up the band's music. Catch them headlining ArcTanGent and Hevy this year.
Losing founding member and drummer Mike Portnoy in 2010 might have thrown the good ship Dream Theater off course, but with sticksman Mike Mangini installed on his throne, the band have continued to showcase their high-octane musicianship to awestruck audiences around the world.
AC/DC's last live jaunt, the Black Ice tour, wrapped up in 2010 after, let's face it, rocking five million punters in a mammoth two-year slog around 29 countries.
Although 2015 has been fraught with drama for the band, with Malcolm Young sitting out of the new album and tour and Phil Rudd currently on bail, there's no stopping the AC/DC machine: Rock Or Bust, indeed.
There is more love in the world for Dave Grohl than for any other living human. People flock to him like he's some sort of rock messiah, which, with his flowing locks and beard, he's beginning to look exactly like.
He's not invincible, mind, and a recent tumble at Nya Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden has led to the Foos cancelling their shows at Wembley Stadium and Glastonbury. Still, any musician who finishes the show after breaking their leg deserves respect, right?
All hail the mighty Rush, for they walk among us like prog gods, bringing with them a fiercely proficient live show that continues to draw legions of fans all around the world.
Neil Peart's drum kit looks like it's ready to take off any day now, and you wouldn't put it past these masters of the dark live arts to play with their drummer via remote link-up to the moon.
You wanted the best… oh, c’mon, you know how that goes. For millions of KISS fans across the globe, there is no retirement from the KISS Army – and this result only goes to prove that the greasepaint is still very much alive and well.
Ace and Peter are long gone, but guitarist Tommy Thayler and drummer Eric Singer - as the Spaceman and Catman respectively - keep the 70s alive with Gene and Paul in a show that still features smoke bombs, fake blood and chest-beating hits, best showcased at their blockbuster headline slot at Download this year. Worthy winners indeed.