Best Live Act, and Don't Even Try to Deny It - 2009
It's Jay-Z. It just is. His ubiquity this year has been grating, and The Blueprint 3 is largely regarded as a non-disaster, as opposed to an unqualified triumph. But onstage, with a monolithic full band behind him—that concussive bass, those keyboards, all of the blaring horns packing "Roc Boys" with more oomph than the Star Wars and Rocky themes combined—Jay is completely unstoppable. That moment when he sauntered onstage the first night of the already-nigh-unbearably water-logged All Points West festival, a last-minute replacement for the ailing Beastie Boys, and launched ferociously into "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" is the signature transcendent live-music moment of the year that will see the man turn 40. A few months later, he sold out Madison Square Garden on 9/11, for charity. He can play songs you know by heart for two hours straight. Go and hear them as soon as you possibly can.