Queen‘s 1985 Live Aid set is the world‘s most popular live performance

Queen at Live Aid
(Image credit: FG/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images)

An electrifying set that began at 6.41pm with the abridged majesty of Bohemian Rhapsody and ended with triumphant pomp of We Are The Champions around 20 minutes later, Queen's Wembley performance at Live Aid 1985 was one for the ages.

And after some number crunching from online box office site TicketSource, it has been declared the world's favourite live performance. 

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Marking a year without gigs, TicketSource surveyed a number of listicles of the best live shows, and then pooled data from Google Ad's Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to collate annual Google and YouTube searches, factoring the the number of YouTube views, then normalised the data out of 100 to score each of the performances.

With 136,901,300 YouTube views, 4,812,000 YouTube searches and 1,427,500 Google searches, Queen at Live Aid scored 90.63 – comfortably beating Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's 2020 Super Bowl half-time show at second place.

By TicketSource's metrics, Super Bowl half-time shows dominated the top 10, with Lady Gaga (2017) coming in third, followed by Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars (2016) at fourth, Michael Jackson (1993) at sixth, Prince (2007) at eighth, and Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot (2015) coming in ninth, with Jimi Hendrix's generation-defining Woodstock performance rounding out the top 10.

The Beatles' 1965 Shea Stadium performance came in fifth, with Nirvana's Unplugged at seventh. 

It is interesting to see what performances live longer in the public's consciousness. In 1971, Grand Funk Railroad sold Shea out faster than the Beatles, and yet their set is nowhere to be found in the top 50. That's how it goes. Unquestionably, the Beatles Shea Stadium set epitomised the irresistible pull of the British Invasion, and to this day serves as a testament the Fab Four's legacy. 

There are iconic electric guitar moments in TicketSource's top 50 might for everyone. Why not turn your attention to Santana's 1969 acid-warped tour de force at Woodstock in 23rd, take in Led Zeppelin's electric grandeur at the Royal Albert Hall at 26th, or grab yourself a cardboard pint of Stella to savour Oasis live from Knebworth, 1996?

All in, eight sets from Live Aid 1985 made the top 50, with Black Sabbath, Elton John, U2, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Elton John & George Michael joining Queen. 

TicketSource also parsed data for Spotify, where Nirvana's MTV Unplugged was the most listened to live performance, followed by Beyonce at Coachella in second place, and Johnny Cash's incendiary set At Folsom Prison in third.

Check out the full top 50 at TicketSource.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.