In the world of hard rock, there are several great bands that put on amazing live concerts. There are legendary performances that have been talked about for years. There are bands that are so grand live, when fans see them once, they become fans for life. Then there are the bands that you simply must see at least once in your lifetime. Here now are Ryo’s five choices for bands that you absolutely have to see live in concert at least once in your lifetime.
While Brian Johnson is a fantastic front man, and the rhythm section lead by Malcom Young is highly talented, it is the outrageous antics of Angus Young that makes seeing an AC/DC concert a must. Anytime that Angus takes the stage, the audience is in for a real treat. Between his brilliance with a guitar in his hand, high energy level, and boogie-woogie school boy style, Angus IS AC/DC.
Every tour, there are new antics from Angus and great music to be heard. AC/DC hasn’t put out a terrible album in years, if ever (some people didn’t care for Ball Breaker, I thought it was excellent). In addition to new music every time they go out on tour, the band has a back catalog of nothing but hits. “Hells Bells,” “For Those About To Rock,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” who wouldn’t want to hear those performed live? Add in the amazing performance from Angus Young and you will definitely get your money’s worth.
There is always a playground for Angus while he wails away on his guitar. Elaborate stage settings, long ramps that run into the audience, and second levels above the main stage are all used in style. The highlight of the night, of course, comes when it is time for Angus’ guitar solo. Most live acts these days find the beer lines full when it comes time to the guitar solo, but not AC/DC. When Angus gets ready to let it rip, that’s when the fans rush back from the food lines. And Angus never disappoints. To even try to describe his guitar solo/strip dance, would be a huge injustice, so I will just say that you need to witness it for yourself. If you have never seen AC/DC live, be sure to buy a ticket the next time they announce a world tour.
Regardless of how you feel about the band and their over saturation in the market with gimmicks, games, toys, and gizmos, seeing Kiss in concert at least once during your lifetime is mandatory if you consider yourself a true hard rock fan. Kiss was one of the first bands to provide fans with a truly bombastic live experience. Between their outlandish costumes, makeup, smoke, and explosions, Kiss has always provided an amazing concert experience. Even during the years without makeup, there were still plenty of fireworks to go around.
Now entering their 60’s, like it or not, Kiss is near the end of their career. And while Peter Criss and Ace Frehley are no longer part of the band, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer are pretty good replacements. The bombs, rocket shooting guitars, blood spitting, fire breathing, live concert amazement is also still there. In one night a fan would get to see Gene Simmons spit blood and breathe fire, Paul Stanley fly through the air, Tommy Thayer shoot rockets out of his guitar, and Eric Singer fire a Bazooka.
Add to that great classic hits like “Love Gun,” “Detroit Rock City,” and “Rock And Roll All Nite,” and you have a recipe for one of the greatest concerts that you have ever witnessed. This is a band that every hard rock fan should see live just once. They are currently on tour this fall. If you don’t have a ticket, do yourself a favor and go buy one. Now.
Is there anything that compare to the power of Metallica in concert? Between the music, the volume, the energy, and the deep song catalog, Metallica always puts on a spectacular live show. Metallica is also one of the few hard rock bands that doesn’t perform the same songs every night on tour. Instead of mixing up the set list from tour to tour, they mix up the set list from night to night. Having rocked the masses for more than 30 years, Metallica is also a seasoned, veteran band with a real stage presence.
While no longer filled with all original members, Metallica’s current lineup is no laughing matter. And whenever you have James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, you have quite an amazing band. Metallica is all about raw power in concert. Try to sit through a Metallica concert without getting super excited, fists pumping, and your heart racing. It’s more effective than a gallon of coffee for waking up the senses.
With albums such as their self-titled masterpiece (also known as The Black Album), Ride The Lightning, and Master Of Puppets, there is no end to how many fantastic songs this band can perform. Night after night, fans are guaranteed one of the greatest evenings of their lives. Metallica should be on tour in the very near future and you should get on their concert alert list.
Up the irons! There is nothing more exciting than when Iron Maiden storms the stage and Bruce Dickinson comes charging out into the night with the energy level of someone half his age. Make no mistake about it Iron Maiden could be the greatest live band ever. Between creative backdrops, a huge mascot that steals the show and the band’s ability to perform like a well oiled machine, Iron Maiden has everything that a fan wants in a concert.
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson leads the charge and by the end of the first song, he has the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. They are his to command and they will do as they are told. If Bruce says scream, the audience screams. If Bruce says rise, the audience rises. If Bruce says jump, the audience jumps. There is almost no one that commands a crowd like Bruce Dickinson.
On top of all that, the rest of the band is so talented that they fit in perfectly. Steve Harris, master craftsman of songs plays an exceptional bass guitar live. Nicko McBrain is a delight behind the drum kit and the three guitar attack of Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, and Dave Murray simply blows the crowd away. Every member of the band has a strong purpose in the live setting and every member of the band delivers on that purpose.
Then at the end of the night, we get to witness the greatest mascot in the world take the stage. Eddie himself pays a visit at each and every Iron Maiden concert. It is a concert experience like no other, and if you don’t walk out of the show sweating and breathless, then you are either dead, or really a fan of Justin Bieber.
Let’s face it—this band is on the list because they are truly the Godfathers of heavy metal. How can you have a list of hard rock bands that need to be seen in concert without including the band that started the genre? Black Sabbath is the reason that there are heavy metal concerts. Prior to them (and Led Zeppelin) music was a lot brighter. Black Sabbath brought the darkness in and continue to do so to this day.
Legends. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward (though no longer with the band). They are legends. And to see these legends live in concert, well it is priceless. Think how much people would pay to see Led Zeppelin reunite. Well, here’s your chance to see a band just as legendary, only they are still touring. Black Sabbath is a must see for any fan of heavy metal. To hear songs like Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Iron Man live is simply mind numbing. To see the Godfathers of heavy metal on stage and performing is breath taking. Just for the historical experience of saying, “I was there,” Black Sabbath needs to be seen in concert. It is definitely something that you would tell your grandchildren about.
The good news is that all of these bands are still active, although one or two of them may not be active for much longer. My advice is to buy a ticket the next time they are in your area, or if need be, travel to see them perform. You will not be disappointed, and you can add their concert to your list of greatest hard rock memories. If you’ve seen all of these bands live already, then you are a true hard rock warrior!
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