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The loudest Live Lounges: When rock has taken over Radio 1

By Sam Moore, 14 September 2018

Two of the rock world’s biggest and best popped by Radio 1 this week, with both Thirty Seconds To Mars and Slaves delivering epic Live Lounge performances.

Donning a very rockstar kimono for the occasion, Jared Leto and his band performed their recent hit Rescue Me and a special mash-up of Juice WRLD, Khalid and Post Malone. Meanwhile, Slaves performed latest single Chokehold and a cover of Superorganism's Everybody Wants To Be Famous. Listen back to both performances in full here.

Rock acts must relish the challenge of entering the Live Lounge. As well as soaking up the intimacy created by the cosy studio environment (it can get loud in there), there's also the chance to experiment musically in producing a unique cover that often pays tribute to a music icon that influenced them or a peer that you might not expect them to admire.

To mark a great week of rock in the Live Lounge, and ahead of Pale Waves' debut Live Lounge appearance on Tuesday 18 September, let’s take a look back at some of the bands that really turned it up to 11 for their Live Lounge performances.

Slaves shutting it down

Kent's finest are fast becoming Live Lounge regulars. During Slaves' first-ever appearance back in 2015, they kicked things off by very much shutting it down, taking on Skepta's Shutdown for their chosen cover. Their punky rendition was so well received that the Tottenham MC later joined the duo on stage during Radio 1’s Big Weekend to perform their raucous version of the track.

Royal Blood's arresting Police cover

Brighton duo Royal Blood have popped into the Live Lounge a fair few times since 2014, but their take on The Police's Roxanne in February 2015 was arguably their finest moment to date. Giving the Sting-written song a rollicking reworking with crashing drums and crunchy bass riffs, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher still managed to retain the groove of the original amidst the sonic boom of their wonderfully distorted cover.

Wolf Alice's powerful punch

Nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize for their soaring second album Visions of a Life, Wolf Alice's visit to the Live Lounge in 2017 coincided with the launch of that acclaimed record. The band’s performance of standout single Beautifully Unconventional was a highlight, slick and compact but still packing a powerful punch thanks to frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s striking vocals.

Muse's supermassive guitars

Muse don’t tend to do things by halves, and their blockbuster Live Lounge session in 2012 was no different. The trio rattled through five of their own tracks, including a roaring rendition of Uprising and a rather special cover of Prince’s Sign o’ the Times. The entire thing went down so well that Muse returned to the Live Lounge three years later in 2015 to do it all over again, turning CHVRCHES' Lies into a mammoth guitar epic in the process. With a new album out in November, fingers crossed Matt Bellamy and co can find time to complete their Live Lounge trilogy some time soon.

Foo Fighters' rock masterclass

What's louder than a normal Foo Fighters performance? How about the Foos covering the legendary AC/DC? They did just that in the Live Lounge back in September 2017, taking on the Australian band’s 1977 classic Let There Be Rock. Dave Grohl and his band let loose to deliver a stormer that would make AC/DC themselves envious.

Deap Vally loud and unplugged

Deap Vally's cover of Jake Bugg for Live Lounge Late in 2013 has to be the loudest unplugged Live Lounge performance there's ever been. Armed with just drums, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, the LA bluesy rock duo proved you don't have to be plugged-in to rock out.

Bullet For My Valentine bringing a whole lotta rock

Foo Fighters aren't the only act on this list to use their Live Lounge cover to pay tribute to AC/DC, with Bullet For My Valentine preceding them with a version of Whole Lotta Rosie in October 2012. The unfamiliar sight of frontman Matt Tuck without his guitar shouldn’t distract you too much from an inescapably head-banging performance from the group, who did justice to this heavy rock classic with their striking version.

Foals giving it all

During their Live Lounge in October 2015, Oxford's Foals offered up a stomping take on Florence + the Machine's majestic What Kind Of Man, with their rendition eventually segueing to the bone-shattering climax of their own single What Went Down. Spine-tingling stuff.

Metallica showing why they're metal gods

While not technically a Live Lounge performance, a special mention has to go to Metallica after they delivered arguably one of the loudest ever Radio 1 Maida Vale sessions back in November 2016. The masters of thrash nearly brought the foundations down with their thunderous set, with Hardwired a prime example of the kind of full-throttle performance that has long been synonymous with the band.

And when pop took on rock...

While you won’t be hearing her on the Radio 1 Rock Show any time soon, Dua Lipa has to get an honorary shout-out for showing the uniting power of a Live Lounge cover – specifically, the ability of an artist at the top of their game to successfully put their own spin on one of their peer’s most recognisable tracks. Dua’s intimate and affecting take on Arctic Monkeys’ riff-driven Do I Wanna Know? gave the song a whole other meaning, going some way to prove that, just like rock, there are no rules in the Live Lounge.

  • Listen to Pale Waves’ Live Lounge performance on Clara Amfo's Radio 1 show, Tuesday 18 September, from 12pm.

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