14 of the most iconic music legends to play in Leeds through the years

With Leeds Festival recently announcing this year's headline acts and a great array of artists set to appear in the city over the coming months, music lovers have plenty to be excited about.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 23rd February 2018, 10:49 am
Updated Friday, 23rd February 2018, 10:55 am
The biggest music acts in the world have played Leeds.
The biggest music acts in the world have played Leeds.

Leeds has long attracted an exciting influx of stars over the years, including some of the world's most iconic music legends.

Here are just a few of the most memorable gigs which have gone down in Leeds history (click on the link above for a gallery of the acts).

Read More

Read More
We should be so lucky! Kylie Minogue announces Leeds show as part of national to...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Michael Jackson

The Beatles

Appearing in support of Roy Orbison, the Fab Four played a seven-song set at Leeds' old Odeon Cinema at a time when Beatlemania was just gripping the nation.

When: 5 June 1963, at the Odeon Cinema

Jimi Hendrix

Michael Jackson

The legendary guitarist and singer played a decidedly low-key gig to an almost empty International Club in Chapeltown, before a notorious gig at Ilkley's Troutbeck Hotel the following day, where the sell-out show was cut short by police just minutes in over concerns of over-crowding.

When: 11 March 1967, at The International Club

The Who

The Who's performance at the University of Leeds has gone down in history as perhaps their most iconic to date, having served as the venue for their first live recording.

The Live At Leeds album has since been hailed by critics as the best live rock album of all time and featured the band's most famous line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

When: 14 February 1970, at The Refectory, University of Leeds

The Rolling Stones

Playing to a 2,000 strong crowd - with fans reportedly having queued for 12 hours for a place inside - the Stones put on a rousing performance with all of the rock 'n' roll swagger they've come to be famed for.

When: 13 March 1971, at The Refectory, University of Leeds

David Bowie

Performing two shows in one day at the Kirkstall Rolarena (a converted ice skating rink, where the ITV studios are today), David Bowie made quite an impression when he landed in Leeds clad in a leotard as his flamboyant alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.

When: 29 June 1973, at Kirkstall Rolarena

Elton John

The Grand Theatre is no stranger to welcoming a star or two through its doors, but playing host to Elton John isn't something that happens every day.

Flying into Leeds for two dates on his Louder Than Concorde tour in 1976, Elton powered through a lively two-and-a-quarter hour set featuring some of his biggest hits.

When: 29 & 30 April 1976, at The Grand Theatre

Sex Pistols

1976 marked the year the legendary loud-mouthed punks unleashed anarchy on the UK, giving crowds a taste of rough and ready music, and bringing The Clash, the Damned and the Heartbreakers along for the ride.

When: 6 December 1976, Leeds Polytechnic


Few can command a crowd quite like Freddie Mercury could, so the task of rocking the mighty Elland Road Stadium proved little trouble for the frontman, and the lucky 40,000 plus in attendance can now smugly look back knowing they saw Queen in their prime.

When: 29 May 1982, at Elland Road Stadium


Queen aren't the only rock legends Elland Road has had the pleasure of hosting, as U2 made their mark on the mammoth venue in 1987 touring their Joshua Tree album, with hometown bands The Mission and The Pretenders in tow.

When 1 July 1987, at Elland Road Stadium


Making her British debut to a sea of 73,000 fans at a packed Roundhay Park, Madonna brought her Who's That Girl? tour tot he UK and was typically revealling, clad in tiny hot pants and a corset.

When: 15 August 1987, at Roundhay Park

Michael Jackson

The King of Pop proved why he wears the crown when he entertained a crowd of more than 90,000 at Roundhay Park on his 30th birthday, with all of the impressive showmanship you'd expect.

When: 29 August 1988, at Roundhay Park


It may now be a stylish Hugo Boss store, but in a past life this spot on Vicar Lane was a bustling music venue that played host to an array of impressive names - Nirvana being one of the most iconic.

They played in support of grunge band, Tad, and Kurt Cobain is said to have crashed on a tatty old sofa upstairs the night before.

When: 25 October 1989, at Duchess of York


The city was a buzz when the Gallagher brothers rolled into town to play the Duchess pub, with eager fans queuing around the block to try and get a foot inside the 300-capacity venue.

When: 12 April 1994, at Duchess of York


It was his one and only performance in Leeds and the music superstar certainly made it count, with a two-hour, 33-song set, with a purple clad crowd bringing the singer back on for three encores.

When: 23 May 2014, at First Direct Arena

Are there any music legends that we've missed? Let us know you're favourites.