From sub zero temperatures to ancient Roman ampitheatres, here are some of the weirdest places bands have chosen to play.
When people say the spirit of the sixties died when The Beatles broke up, they’re not just being romantic. Ringo, John, George and Paul performed for the last time on 30 January 1969, closing a chapter in popular music unlike any other. But this performance remains iconic not only as their last, but more so for where it was held.
A spontaneous idea to promote their final album Get Back, the Fab Four took to the rooftop of Apple Corps office on Savile Row to play tracks such as ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and ‘Get Back’, before police officers shut the performance down due to noise levels. The concert is the subject of Peter Jackson’s new film, The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert, released in cinemas today.
Inspired The Beatles’ rooftop antics, we’ve put together ten more unconventional performances from artists who wanted to test their own limits and think outside a typical venue-shaped box.
In an oil rig… 303 metres below sea level
There may be nine million bicycles in Beijing, but on 10 October 2006, Katie Melua was 303 metres beneath the North Sea performing to a crew of oilrig workers. Yes, it’s a sentence you didn’t think you’d read today, but it really happened. The performance broke the Guinness World Record for the deepest underwater concert, in fact. Watch the performance below, it’s quite the trip.
On a bus
OK, it’s hardly a levithian underwater oil rig, but when was the last time you saw The White Stripes perform on the 112 to North Finchley? On a summer’s day in Winnipeg in 2007, Jack and Meg hopped on a bus for an impromptu gig, playing the likes of ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ (yes, really) and ‘Hotel Yorba’. Be warned, the fan footage below does look like it was filmed on a potato, but it was 2007.
In a toilet
The description may say ‘a small Parisian bathroom’, which certainly sounds more appealing, but let’s be right about it, it’s a toilet. This session was one of many creative performances hosted by La Blogotheque, but this… stripped down and gorgeous rendition of ‘Shift’ by indie-folk greats Grizzly Bear is one of their most memorable.
On a plane
‘This is your captain speaking. We’re going to go ahead and put the seatbelt sign on whilst we solve some technical issues; we seem to have a Twisted Transistor’. In 2005, nu metal titans Korn treated American troops to a performance at 37,000 feet on board a commercial airplane, using battery-powered amps and a kids drum set. You may remember Jamiroquai’s Gig in the Sky, but Korn did it first (and you can bet your bottom dollar that they partied harder).
Under the Northern Lights
Few think any wider out of the box when it comes to live performances than French production company Cercle, but this concert by French pianist Sofiane Pamart, filmed in Lapland under the luminous green blanket of the Northern Lights is by far their most spectacular.
In the hotel from The Shining
Here’s…Murder by Death. OK, with a name like that perhaps it’s not a surprise that the Indiana indie rockers have quite a taste for the macabre; so much so, that every year the band perform inside the haunted Stanley Hotel from The Shining. Quite the setting for lines such as “I hear the hungry ghosts calling out in the night”.
In a videogame
EDM producer, DJ and walking whipped confectionary man Marshmello got ahead of the game by literally performing in one. In February 2019, ‘mello broadcasted a live performance into the battle royal game Fortnite via a giant avatar, with more than 10 million gamers reportedly signing in to view the show.
In a cemetary
Bon Iver has always been at the dead centre of the indie rock sphere. But in September 2009 Justin Vernon and his band performed between the tombstones of Hollywood Forever Cemetary, which no doubt added a solemnity to the performance. What’s more, the set began at 6AM, with fans camping out in the hours before to catch the sunrise show.
In the coldest inhabited place on earth
Another Guinness World Record busted. No really, in 2012 Busted frontman Charlie Simpson performed the world’s coldest concert, playing a fifteen minute set to a small crowd in Oymyakon, Siberia in -30˚ temperatures.
In an ancient ampitheatre
Sure, there probably weren’t as many locals passing by the ancient ampitheatre of Pompeii for Pink Floyd as there would have been on Savile Row for The Beatles, but it’s still pretty rock and roll isn’t it?
Korn play Download Festival 2022.