The thrill of anticipation ahead of a gig is almost as good as the live music itself. It’s a familiar scene – you’re standing in the crowd, drink in hand, bated breath, staring at the empty stage in expectation. You can feel the atmosphere building to bursting point. There are two big releases of energy for concert-goers – the first when the band stroll out triumphantly from backstage, and the second when the first chord of the opening song is finally struck. You find yourself smiling without even realising.
Recorded music might be our way to take the concert home, but it’s the gig experience that truly makes us feel alive. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the legendary Q Magazine – we’re insanely excited for the StubHub 2016 Q Awards in association with Absolute Radio. For the first time in history, the ceremony’s opening its doors to the people, so get geared up to see all your most-loved musical legends (including a very special performance from The Charlatans) bundled together at the Camden Roundhouse on Wednesday 2 November.
We’re firm believers that there’s no feeling quite like the thrill of the live performance, so no prizes for guessing what category we’re supporting! Let’s discuss the nominees for Q Best Live Act Presented by StubHub, and why they each deserve all the glory.
The first band ever to live-stream a gig so the world could watch, these Irish rockers have more than a few tricks up their sleeve. While there’s no denying the appeal of such great technological advances, nothing can beat seeing them live. A U2 gig will springboard the reveller away from the humdrum of the everyday into the band’s euphoric world of epic, grandiose anthems, where the streets have no name and there’s beautiful days aplenty. It’s been almost 30 years since multi-platinum album The Joshua Tree was unleashed to the masses, but half the music industry is still playing catch-up. Bono and the band are still as innovative as ever, and certainly here to stay.
From the unlikely origins of coastal Devon came three lads with a supermassive sound. Forget your standard rock band, Muse are all about making their live shows something to remember. Where else do you get flamethrowers, lasers, strobes, drones, giant balloons and colossal LED walls that make Piccadilly Circus look dull? But don’t be fooled by the theatrics – all these visuals only add to the incredible orchestral rock sound that these guys belt out. Did we mention that there are only three of them? As well as countless world tours, don’t forget that Muse have also headlined pretty much every major festival (even stepping in to fill U2’s shoes back in 2010 at Glastonbury after the Irish megastars dropped out). Muse have proved time and time again that they’re one of the best live bands in the world.
Coldplay get a bit of an unfair kicking sometimes, but there’s a damn good reason they’re so popular. When it comes to live music, few bands make a bigger impact than Chris Martin and chums (although all they really have to do is hold a mic to the audience and the rest takes care of itself). At their headline Glasto slot this summer, the band brought tears to our eyes when they payed tribute to the late Viola Beach with a stunning cover of their song ‘Boys That Sing’. And they brought out Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox to play Johnny B. Goode with them back in July, which was just as heart-warming. They deserve the Q-shaped gong simply for bringing us two of the most moving live moments ever.
The youngest band nominated, having been together just five years, Savages embody the breathless mania of raging discontent that seem to swirl endlessly around us. It’s safe to assume no-one else on this list would consider releasing a song called ‘F***ers’. Poitiers-born pixie-faced frontwoman Jehnny Beth lends an otherworldly je ne sais quoi to the female four-piece’s primal shots of, well, savagery, and makes for a mesmerising presence on stage. The live act of this twice Mercury Prize-shortlisted band packs a feeling that transcends music, leaving you slightly heady – like the moment just before you stop holding your breath. Sure, the glitzy gimmicks and jetpacks may have propelled the other nominees to be named the gods of live music, but Savages eclipse them in a rush of raw energy. It’s live music at its best: an expression, not a statement.
Wolf Alice are named after a pretty weird Angela Carter tale of a girl raised by wolves who goes on to save a werewolf from a gun-toting angry mob. Sounds absolutely terrifying. Fortunately, Ellie Rowsell and band are a less scary live prospect than the story that inspired them – just replace said angry mob with an adoring crowd latching onto every thrashed chord and screaming back every single word. It’s pretty hard not to find yourself swept up in the resulting wave of euphoria. There’s a raw energy to songs like ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Giant Peach’ – each fortunately heavier and tenser prospects than their titles suggest – and Wolf Alice’s tight grunge reinvention is at its best at their incendiary live shows. They’d be a worthy winner.