In what seems like a distant memory, back before lockdowns, venue closures and closed borders, A-list acts would sell out Melbourne stadiums, and you could catch the new hottest band at your local for a couple of bucks. We look back at some of the greatest Melbourne live music moments of all time.
While we wait for the day that we can return to the mosh pit, today we’re taking a look back at some of the coolest, most surprising and wacky things to happen across live stages in our state. Here are our some of our all-time favourite Melbourne live music moments.
What you need to know
- We’re counting down Melbourne’s best live music moments
- The list is as diverse as System of a Down, a 15-year-old Billie Eilish and Courtney Barnett
- The next eight are just the beginning, check out our related pieces at the end
Joey Jordison plays with System of A Down
Way back in 2012 when the Melbourne festival scene was jam packed with things like Big Day Out, Harvest and of course Soundwave, the latter was co-headlined by alt metallers Slipknot and System of A Down.
The night before the Melbourne leg of the festival, System of A Down played a headline show at Rod Laver Arena, playing a set full of their greatest hits like ‘B.Y.O.B’, ‘Chop Suey’ and ‘Toxicity’, but the highlight came when late Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison joined the group for a killer rendition of ‘Suite-Pee’. As you can hear from the fan reaction below, it’s one of the most iconic moments in Metal history that happened on a dreary Wednesday night in Melbourne.
Mick Jagger and Joe Satriani play The Corner Hotel
Back in 1988, the legendary Rolling Stones frontman toured Australia solo, hitting Rod Laver Arena for a string of shows after the release of his two solo albums – She’s The Boss and Primitive Cool.
Promoted as the ‘Brothers of Sodom from Tasmania’, Mick, along with his along with his all-star band of Joe Satriani, Doug Wimbish, Jimm Rip and Simon Phillips surprised some select lucky fans at The Corner Hotel with a set of Rolling Stones classics.
The show meant to be a secret – but after a radio announcer let it slip on air, The Corner was as full as its ever been with fans trying to get a glimpse of the iconic singer.
Prince’s ‘Piano And A Microphone Tour’ at Melbourne’s State Theatre
Only a few months before his untimely death, Prince started his Piano and A Microphone Tour, armed with a grand and his voice, showing fans he didn’t need much to break down some of his biggest and loudest hits.
After only a single show in America, Prince brought the tour to Australia in February of 2016. Hitting the beautiful State Theatre stage in Melbourne, Prince had the crowd in tears with renditions of some of his biggest hits in such a quaint and quiet manner.
Melburnians were very lucky to get their very last glimpse of the star in such an intimate format that night, as seen by the video below.
The Killers play Howler
After what many saw as poor halftime performances from acts like Meatloaf and Ellie Goulding, 2017 saw American indie rockers The Killers play a widely well received AFL Grand Final performance.
The night before this iconic performance, the group warmed up during a secret show at the Howler Bar, and the crowd went crazy for the array of hits and the infectious energy they brought to the stage. The group truly showing fans how they’re at the top of their game.
As seen from the video below, everyone’s favourite singalong song ‘Mr Brightside’ got a resounding fan response.
Supergroup hit Melbourne’s Brunswick Ballroom
Courtney Barnett’s super popular Milk Records label holds a number of residencies throughout the year, where they showcase their roster of amazing acts like Hachiku, Liz Stringer and Bachelor to name a few.
During a Milk Records residency earlier this year, the label billed a ‘mystery guest’ in their promotion for the residencies, and it ended up being a supergroup featuring some of Australia’s best musos – Julia Jacklin, Stella Donnelly, Courtney Barnett, Hachiku, plus a heap more.
Fans were treated to a number of iconic tracks, covering a number of favourites, including Shania Twains hit ‘You’re Still The One’. Check out some videos from the night below.
Killer Be Killed make debut at Soundwave Festival
One of metal world’s biggest supergroups, featuring members of Soulfly, The Dillinger Escape Plan as Mastodon have garnered fans across the world with their unique approach to music.
The group made their live debut on the Melbourne leg of the Soundwave festival, yet another one of Australia’s much loved festivals that’s not around any more. Killer Be Killed features Max Cavalera, Greg Picoato, Troy Sanders and Ben Koller.
Each member having toured Melbourne/Australia with their respective bands in years prior, the country holding a special place in their hearts, making it the obvious first choice for their live debut.
15-year-old Billie Eilish debuts at The Toff In Town
Billie Eilish has quickly become one of the biggest stars in the world, selling out arenas and stadiums, winning Grammys and having millions of followers on Instagram, but this was one time the Melbourne live music scene was way ahead of the curve.
Months before arguably becoming one the biggest stars in the world, the vocalist performed for a handful of people at Melbourne’s Toff In Town. This intimate forum being an experience her fans could only dream about getting nowadays.
Since this performance, she hit Melbourne on her 2019 world tour for a massive sellout show at Margaret Court Arena, showing how quickly she shot to stardom.
Bruce Springsteen covers AC/DC with Eddie Vedder
Bruce Springsteen is still one of the world’s most popular rockers, still selling out arenas and stadiums across the globe since 1970.
Bruce Springsteen and his all star E Street band toured Australia only one year after their 2013 tour, which was their first in about 10 years. 2014 also saw legendary Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder tour Australia, so Springsteen brought him out on stage to cover ‘Highway To Hell’. Fans were treated to this awesome rendition of one of our most iconic tracks.
The group toured Australia gain only three years after this, one again, playing a bunch of gold out stadiums and arenas across the country.