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The 20 Best Live Acts of the Decade (2000-2009)

November 23, 2009  |  7:00am
The 20 Best Live Acts of the Decade (2000-2009)
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[Above: Photo by Rob Inderrieden]

10. Sigur Rós

We saw the band in a symphony hall, and that seemed like an appropriate setting. These Icelanders are less of a rock band and more of a chamber orchestra that rocks. They create soundscapes that reward sitting and listening, not standing and talking and texting and breathing some hipster’s second-hand clove smoke. Nick Marino

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[Above: Photo by Brian Lima]

9. U2

I remember missing the Joshua Tree tour. My sister went, and I, being the jobless 15-year-old, stayed home. I remember that The BoDeans opened, and I instead listened to the Joshua Tree cassette on my boombox. So in 2005, I somehow found myself never having seen one of the best bands of my generation. And they really are. Bono still seems to draw his energy from the adoring masses, and he acts like it’s the first stadium show he’s ever played and is awed by the crowd. There’s still so much joy and camaraderie on the stage, with each of the members playing off their bandmates. And the catalog is so deep and rich—and only getting deeper and richer. I was just as excited to hear “City of Blinding Lights” and “Beautiful Day” as I was to hear “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “40.” They may be the most hyped live band since The Beatles, but that’s only because they actually live up to it. Josh Jackson

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[Above: Photo by Mark C. Austin]

8. Bruce Springsteen

The most life-affirming live performance in popular music? Not even a contest. The Boss’ underrated acoustic tour (behind the subdued Devils and Dust album) seems destined to remain a lost footnote in his legacy. His post-Katrina show at Jazz Fest with the Seeger Sessions band was an instant-classic. (We were on-site but missed the gig. We are still kicking ourselves.) And just after 9/11, his revival-style performances behind The Rising became part of our collective healing process. Nick Marino

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[Above: Photo by Mark C. Austin]

7. Polyphonic Spree

The robes, the dozens of members, the tent-revival fervor—at first, there’s something more than a bit creepy about Tim DeLaughter and his gang of color-matched comrades. But when the choir heats up, the flutes get to trilling and the glitter starts popping, and when a hundred voices or more (both robed and unrobed) lift up in ecstatic choruses about love, love, love and more love—well, it’s still a little strange, but in exactly the right way. Rachael Maddux

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[Above: Photo by Mark C. Austin]

6. My Morning Jacket

Seeing My Morning Jacket live, hair flailing every which way as they attack their instruments with abandon, the group comes off like a cross between Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Muppet Show’s Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Expect stadium-sized anthems, maximum guitar shred, the occasional Marvin Gaye falsetto, killer props and costumes, a fearless stage presence and inventive covers of everything from Erykah Badu to The Misfits. Steve LaBate

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