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Critics' Choice 2014: Live And Loud!

It's been another mindblowing year for great gigs. Here are 10 that left our jaws on the floor.

MACHINE HEAD (BRIGHTON CONCORDE 2)

The final date on an unexpected but very welcome run of intimate UK shows, Machine Head’s first trip to Brighton brilliantly encapsulated the band’s unbreakable connection with their loyal fanbase. It was insanely hot in the venue and there was barely room to fart, let alone mosh, but all of that simply added to the life-affirming chaos that erupted when Machine Head hit the stage, launched into Imperium and then spent 90 minutes ripping the place apart with evangelical glee. And if your spine didn’t tingle during the audience singalong at the end of Darkness Within, you should probably apply to be an extra on The Walking Dead. Machine Fucking Head, baby. DL

WHILE SHE SLEEPS (DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL)

How do you announce your return to the fray after over half a year on the sidelines, in what was poised to be a pivotal year for your band? With a show-stealing turn at the UK’s biggest rock festival, obviously! Sheffield’s finest tore Donington apart with an impassioned, ferocious showing that climaxed memorably with frontman Loz scaling the festival’s sound desk, Sleeps-emblazoned flag in hand. Shit was lost, bodies were broken and the UK’s Next Big Things found themselves right back on track to conquer the planet. On the evidence of this set, there really is nothing stopping them now. MA

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