In partnership with Warner Bros.
These days legendary gigs live on in video form, set in imperishable pixels for posterity. But it’s not the same as actually being there, is it? Even worse was before camera phones, when music fans had to rely on a band’s manager remembering to book a video crew, and then, actually releasing the footage. Good luck ever reliving those memories again.
If you could time travel, like speedy legend The Flash, there wouldn’t be a problem. We’ve been obsessed with his new DC superhero blockbuster, in cinemas June 14, ever since we caught a preview screening earlier this month. In it, Barry Allen aka The Flash, uses his powers to sprint back through time to try and put right a terrible wrong in his past. There’s intense action, emotional backstory and some fun retro fashion…
It got us thinking, what historic music moments would we ask our spandex-clad pal to zip us back to? Here are some of NME’s non-superpowered writers on their multiversal music destinations…
The Astoria, London, 2005
Just three weeks after Arctic Monkeys descended on London’s former prime indie venue the Astoria – which sadly closed in 2009 – they became NME cover stars: ‘It’s all kicking right off!’, read the subhead. And so it was. At the show, which took place before the Sheffield fourpiece had recorded their seminal debut album, 2006’s ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, their songs were stomped into life without understatement. Pints hit the stage throughout ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’, while a young, giggling Alex Turner had to combat a near-stage invasion during ‘Still Take You Home’. Imagine if the 2,000 fans in the room that night knew that, nearly 20 years later, that same band would be headlining stadiums?
The key moment: The intensity of the first few songs clearly got to (now ex-)bassist Andy Nicholson, who had to manage a sudden nosebleed. That rock ‘n’ roll, eh?
Drake with Section Boyz
Village Underground, London, 2016
In 2016, Drake was the coolest rapper alive. He’d released ‘Hotline Bling’ and his lauded collaborative mixtape, ‘What A Time To Be Alive’, with Future the year before. So, the 6God’s presence in the UK for the 2016 BRIT Awards was already special. For some lucky drill fans, there was a post-BRITS bonus in store. After joining Rihanna on-stage to perform her track ‘Work It’, Drake hotfooted it over to east London where he helped Skepta and Section Boyz send their crowd into overdrive. It was brief, it was rowdy, but – judging by the videos – it was a moment UK rap will never forget.
The key moment: With Section Boyz and their entourage dressed all in black, Drake – emerging from the huddle in all-white – made the surprise reveal.
Monsters Of Rock Festival
Tushino Airfield, Moscow, 1991
One of the largest heavy metal concerts ever held, the 1991 edition of Monsters Of Rock festival marked a historic moment in more ways than one. Playing to an estimated crowd of 1.6million, hard-riffing veterans AC/DC, Metallica, Pantera, The Black Crowes and more headbanged their way through a political party to celebrate the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Over three decades later, it remains Russia’s biggest-ever rock gig.
The key moment: Metallica opening their set with ‘Enter Sandman’ – just one month after the release of their iconic record ‘The Black Album’.
Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, 1976
Was there ever a more imposing live prospect than Nina Simone? Her aloof, upright stance at the piano. Those sudden, lengthy silences between verses. The way she eyeballed punters in the front row even while playing. This 111-minute set on the banks of Lac Léman in Switzerland is among her most intense. At one point, she even told the audience she’d written a new song but they weren’t worthy of hearing it. Instead, they bore witness to one of the High Priestess Of Soul’s rawest performances – emotional, vulnerable and, of course, formidable.
The key moment: Her moving rendition of gospel hymn ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’, which crescendos to a stage-cracking finale.
The White Stripes
The 100 Club, London, 2001
The show that broke the band. The Detroit duo were considered a flight of fancy prior to their UK arrival, favouring schtick over substance. The 100 Club showcase – their first in the UK – was a scorching rebuttal, and set the band’s trajectory alight. An NME review of the show said that: “From a derelict corner of the USA this stunning resurrection of rock ’n’ roll is surging”. We were right.
The key moment: The show was so electrifying and generated such conversation, that BBC Radio 4’s Today programme read parts of NME’s review live on air to millions of listeners.
‘The Flash’ is in UK cinemas from June 14