Last month, the shortlist was announced for the Live Nation and Ticketmaster Best Live Act Award at this year’s O2 Silver Clef Awards.
The 15 acts were shortlisted by a panel of music industry experts based on their UK live performances between March 2014 and March 2015. However, now it’s up to the public to decide the overall winner with voting open until 11 June. Votes can be cast at www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk/BestLiveAct or can be tweeted to @NordoffRobbins1 using #BLAartistname.
To help you decide between all the amazing acts (seriously, they’re all so good) we’ve taken a closer look at the nominations…
Just two days after releasing their second album, This Is All Yours, the Leeds three-piece sold out London’s Alexandra Palace in just ten minutes. They came back for round two in January this year, including a night at the O2 – their biggest show to date – with a performance NME dubbed, “an intriguing modernist spectacle, as sparse as it is bombastic”.
It’s been a strong year for the Canadian seven-piece, after shows at Earl’s Court and their Reflektor tour, plus headline sets at Glastonbury and British Summer Time in Hyde Park. The Telegraph declared their Glastonbury appearance, “the most uncompromising and compelling set of the day”.
They headlined Reading and Leeds Festivals for the second time in five years, but it was perhaps Arctic Monkeys’ two night run at Finsbury Park that defined their live status last year. As The Art’s Desk said, “There was scarcely a person in the crowd who didn’t scream out the labyrinthine verses and choruses with religious fervour”.
Bruno brought his old school charm and impeccable live show to Wireless Festival in July, where, according to the Telegraph, he “won over the crowd by bringing as much feeling as fancy footwork to the stage.” With his “vintage polish and James Brown-style showmanship”, Mars and his band, The Hooligans, were a “welcome ray of light in a rainy field in North London”.
As well as their own tour, Disclosure managed to fit in a slew of festivals throughout the summer, including Glastonbury with co-organiser Emily Eavis describing them as “one of the greatest British acts at the moment”.
Dolly brought her Blue Smoke tour to the UK in July last year, but it was her appearance at Worthy Farm which seemed to be most people’s highlight. Whilst several of the shortlisted acts played Glastonbury last year, the weekend undoubtedly belonged to “the undisputed queen of Glastonbury”, as the Telegraph described her. Their five-star review added, “it may have been a festival bill full of uncompromising rock bands but it was a veteran country and western star who stole the show”; a sentiment that many fans echoed.
Ed Sheeran’s meteoric rise is showing no signs of slowing with a series of festival appearances last year capped off with a four-night residency in London. As MTV’s five-star review described: “Sheeran’s presence is mesmerising, with the crowd hanging off his every word and watching in awe as he commanded the show to create a unique and powerful sound that filled the entire O2”. On top of that, he’s now gearing up for three huge shows at Wembley Stadium taking place this July – just in time for the close of voting!
It’s been a good year for Foo Fighters fans, as the US rockers not only closed The Invictus Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but also had possibly the most in-demand tickets of the year as they announced a series of tiny, last minute shows under the moniker, The Holy Shits. As Rolling Stone put it: “no matter the size or location of venue, this train-tracks gig showed once again that the Foo Fighters have the live show to match”. Thankfully there was a reprieve for anyone who missed out as the band quickly announced a full UK tour which is currently underway.
When Kate Bush announced her first live shows in 35 years, you knew they were going to be something special. However, her astonishing 22-night Before the Dawn residency at the Hammersmith Apollo went above and beyond expectations, with the Independent’s five-star review describing the shows like so: “Accompanied by music ranging from polyphonic choral harmonies to folksy minstrels, it’s quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage. Which is just what everyone here tonight was hoping for”.
Pharrell bought his huge back catalogue of hits with him to the UK on his Dear GIRL tour. With some of the biggest singles of the last few years under his belt (maybe that should be hat), it was a barrage of hits with Digital Spy quoting, “in terms of range and repertoire, no other current pop star can touch him.”
As the Guardian said, “If you had the power to put words into Prince’s mouth, you could hardly improve on the ones he speaks at the outset of this intimate fundraiser for the charity Autism Rocks. ’What we’re going to do right now is play 14 hits in a row.’”. Along with his backing band 3rdeyegirl, the inimitable Prince played an incredible set to a packed out, celebrity-heavy crowd at London’s Koko. The Guardian said, “Crowd-pleasing is too mild a word for this show. Prince doesn’t just please the crowd; he lovebombs it.”
Winning over crowds consistently with their live show, the Brighton rockers are already playing to massive audiences despite only having one album to draw from. The Express described the duo as having “raw grit and enough on-stage energy to power a small town” and as a “band that possesses the confidence of one with a decade’s experience”. Next up are support slots for Foo Fighters and more festival appearances this summer.
When Drake pulled out of Wireless Festival last summer, leaving a gap at the top of the bill, it was Rudimental who stepped up to take his place. They did so admirably, with the Independent reporting, “the young band from Hackney gave everything to their performance on the main stage, emanating a magnetic presence”. Rudimental are renowned for their live shows which are always packed with energy and fun, with this date being no exception. As The Independent concluded, “the band clearly looked like they were having as much fun as everyone else dancing in the crowd.”
After picking up awards at almost every major music ceremony in 2015, Sam Smith returned to the UK for some live shows earlier this year, including several nights at Brixton Academy. Entertainment Wise said, “rapturous feeling bounced through the crowd throughout the entire show” and that “throughout all tracks, fast or slow, the audience ensured they sang along no matter what”.
Taylor’s festival appearances have certainly made an impact, with her closing set at the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball being one of them. Capital FM themselves described, her final track Shake It Off as “THE moment of the weekend” with “16,000 fans doing Taylor’s dance and singing along to that amazing chorus”.