12 Bands We Wish We Could Have Seen Live

While live music is far from accessible today, it’s still an absolute thrill for those fortunate enough to attend a concert.

Before live music became commodified by commercial sponsorships, merchandising targets, and augmented reality, people used to line up, pay $20, and see some of the world’s greatest performers hit the stage. Many greats have passed on or broken up. Which ones would we love to see again?

1. Nirvana

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Young Gen-Xers and old millennials remember the early ’90s with relish. It was an exciting time for guitar-based music, and Nirvana was the flagship band for the new indie and grunge scene that everyone wanted to see. I have several English friends with unused stubs for one of Nirvana’s 1994 Brixton Academy gigs in London, canceled following Kurt Cobain’s overdose in March of that year. He died on April 8 — what would have been the third night at Brixton.

2. The Beatles

The Beatles
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Who wouldn’t have wanted to see the Fab Four perform live? Many lucky boomers (and their silent generation parents) did. The question is: which era of The Beatles would you choose to see? Would it be the early working-class Hamburg quartet or the world-beating Hollywood Bowl version?

3. Destiny’s Child

Destiny's Child
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Some Beyoncé fans pine for the good old days when she lined up with her numerous bandmates and original co-founder Kelly Rowland and then, later, band stalwart Michelle Williams. There was something inimitable about their early records — a vitality born of pure talent that all music genre fans could appreciate. Of course, Queen B would always be too big for a full return, but a reunion tour would be off the scale.

4. Cream

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Cream was one of the all-time great bands. It launched the careers of its three members, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton. The band split up after three years due to tensions between Bruce and Clapton, the latter going on to world acclaim with a successful solo career spanning seven decades. Sadly, this is a reunion we will never see. Virtuoso drummer Ginger Baker and vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce departed for Rock and Roll Heaven in the last decade.

5. Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine
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Rage Against The Machine peaked far too early, though the band’s first angst-ridden protest album still strikes a nerve with listeners young and old. Ask any rock fan who grew up in the ’90s which band they would have loved to see, and Rage would have been in most peoples’ top three acts. Tom Morello was the only member to show up for the band’s recent entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, following drummer Brad Wilk’s prior announcement that the band would never tour again.

6. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin
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Led Zeppelin was a musician’s band of musicians: a supergroup without being a supergroup. Most diehard fans agree that the band was done once John Bonham died after a night of fierce partying. The younger boomers who managed to see these British rock stars play live were truly blessed. There will never be a band like Led Zeppelin again.

7. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd
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Tragedy has struck many bands, but few can claim the horror that Lynyrd Skynyrd experienced in 1977 when lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and lead guitarist Steve Gaines died in a plane crash, along with Gaines’ older sister, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Nostalgia aside, Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the great stadium-shaking live bands of their era, the group’s fans some of music’s most loyal.

8. Queen

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Freddie Mercury was synonymous with Queen — that is, he was the band. Yes, Brian May is still iconic, and Roger Taylor is legendary, but Queen ceased to be Queen when Mercury left the stage forever. Just imagine Mercury owning the stage in his seventies today — we all know he would still be prancing from atop the stage risers, interacting with his crowd, and keeping the energy stratospheric with his immortal vocal dexterity. Adam Lambert is amazing, but he’s no Freddie Mercury. There will never be another like him.

9. Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd
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The Pink Floyd debate has worn on for decades since Roger Waters left the band in 1985, which preceded an ugly courtroom battle over band naming rights. Waters’ foe and former bandmate David Gilmour has never forgiven him. Most fans consider the Dark Side of the Moon era (post-original Syd Barrett-era) the band’s best, so an early ’80s Pink Floyd gig would mend hurt souls everywhere.

10. Metallica

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Yes, Metallica is still going strong and has been for decades. Robert Trujillo (and Jason Newsted before him) is a superb addition. However, the earlier Master of Puppets generation of Metallica fans would pay life-changing money to see the band with original bass genius Cliff Burton, who died in a tragic tour bus crash in 1986. His soul came alive through his bass guitar, which permeated the Metallica sound until that fateful day.

11. Bob Marley and the Wailers

Bob Marley and the Wailers
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Bob Marley and the Wailers’ most famous song is “No Woman No Cry” — a live recording that still resonates in fans’ hearts. The band was incredible live. One sampling of the excellent live album Babylon By Bus is all one needs to understand the pure, electric energy at a live Bob Marley gig.

12. The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Rome, Italy - January 20, 2021, cd The Jimi Hendrix Experience first group headed by the Great Jimi Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding, drummer Mitch Mitchell and cd Live at Monterey posthumous live album.
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Like his contemporary Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix was one of those elite-level, heritage artists who don’t come along often. We have plenty of evidence showing us what we missed since Hendrix’s departure, not least his performances with Band of Gypsys, which were the gigs he played without his original Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding lineup. Let’s be honest, though — we will be there to see Jimi.


The Fugutive
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