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Top 20 Concert Tours — 2009

By associated press.

The final 2009 Top 20 Concert Tours ranks artists by the year's total box office gross and includes average box office gross per city and the average ticket price for shows in North America. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.

Top 20 Concert Tours

1. U2; $123 million; $7,689,626; $93.77.

2. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band; $94.5; $2,147,288; $87.94.

3. Elton John/Billy Joel; $88; $3,259,794; $125.61

4. Britney Spears; $82.5; $1,618,381; $88.04.

5. AC/DC; $77.9; $1,657,220; $83.76.

6. Kenny Chesney; $71.1; $1,421,271; $68.73.

7. Jonas Brothers; $69.8; $1,341,990; $59.78.

8. Dave Matthews Band; $56.9; $1,211,005; $52.97.

9. Fleetwood Mac; $54.5; $1,067,620; $97.02.

10. Metallica; $53.4; $1,525,402; $65.16.

11. Nickelback; $47.4; $729,231; $47.42.

12. "Walking With Dinosaurs"; $46.2; $1,126,829; $39.77.

13. Miley Cyrus; $45; $1,045,645; $68.87.

14. Trans-Siberian Orchestra; $43.7; $606,944; $44.68.

15. Eagles; $42.8; $1,710,773; $129.30.

16. Keith Urban; $42.7; $712,078; $63.27.

17. Celine Dion; $42.6; $1,934,759; $108.24.

18. Rascal Flatts; $42.2; $766,863; $54.84.

19. Coldplay; $40.8; $1,046,154; $61.79.

20. Paul McCartney; $40.7; $5,087,500; $121.57.

For free upcoming tour information, go to www.pollstar.com

2009 Concert Tour Archive

best concert tours of 2009

  • Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Pollstar Top 50 Concerts Of 2009 (Thanks Jayson)

best concert tours of 2009

The Pollstar Top 50 Posted on Wednesday December 30, 2009 at 05:41 PM

Pollstar has compiled its Top 50 Tours of North America for 2009 and, although there is no surprise as to who came in at No. 1, there were plenty of surprises just the same.

U2 surpassed all other tours by a wide margin, grossing $123 million in North America and selling more than 1.3 million tickets overall. It beat its closest competitor, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, by about $30 million.

With U2 and Bruce charting Nos. 1 and 2, the top five were rounded out by Elton John / Billy Joel, Britney Spears and AC/DC. The Top 10 included the inexhaustible Kenny Chesney, headlining newcomers Jonas Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Fleetwood Mac and Metallica.

For all of the financial troubles of 2009, the concert business had an up year. The numbers for the Top 50 tours were better, across the board, than for 2008, be it total gross revenue or tickets sold. Last year, Chesney was the only artist to sell more than 1 million tickets. This year, U2, Springsteen, Chesney, Jonas Brothers, DMB and “Walking With Dinosaurs” all topped the million mark.

Newcomers to the list include Lil’ Wayne at No. 26 and Kings of Leon at No. 42. Taylor Swift, who essentially began the year as a support act, wrapped 2009 at No. 35 as country’s newest headline draw.

No Doubt, Blink-182 and Leonard Cohen, which each made splashy announcements that they were returning to the stage, made good on their returns, coming in at Nos. 24, 31 and 43 respectively.

So much for the Great Recession. When it comes to live music, 2009 was worth being around for.

Pollstar Top 50 Tours of North America:

1 U2 2 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 3 Elton John / Billy Joel 4 Britney Spears 5 AC/DC 6 Kenny Chesney 7 Jonas Brothers 8 Dave Matthews Band 9 Fleetwood Mac 10 Metallica 11 Nickelback 12 “Walking With Dinosaurs” 13 Miley Cyrus 14 Trans-Siberian Orchestra 15 Eagles 16 Keith Urban 17 Celine Dion 18 Rascal Flatts 19 Coldplay 20 Paul McCartney 21 Phish 22 Brad Paisley 23 Jeff Dunham 24 No Doubt 25 Cher 26 Lil’ Wayne 27 KISS 28 “American Idols Live” 29 Bette Midler 30 Dane Cook 31 Blink-182 32 The Dead 33 Beyoncé 34 Il Divo 35 Taylor Swift 36 Def Leppard 37 Cirque du Soleil – “Saltimbanco” 38 Mötley Crüe 39 Depeche Mode 40 George Strait 41 Eric Clapton / Steve Winwood 42 Kings of Leon 43 Leonard Cohen 44 Bob Dylan 45 “So You Think You Can Dance” 46 Jimmy Buffett 47 Luis Miguel 48 The Killers 49 “Vans Warped Tour” 50 Green Day

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9 Live Shows a Man Should See

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That Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails are on the road reliving 1991 seems even more embarrassing when you consider that Pearl Jam is filling stadiums by forsaking nostalgia. They do a few hits at their shows, but it's their reputation for the unexpected that moves tickets — and bootlegs. Pearl Jam is the new new Grateful Dead.

Hitting the men's room at a Roots gig used to be easy — a drum solo or long-winded instrumental odyssey was always just around the corner. But they've transformed their live show into something mature and restrained. They're like a seasoned jazz combo that's learned when not to play, and they're swinging like never before.

The Black Keys

1. This veteran Akron duo can be thunderous.

2. And also heartbreakingly melodic.

3. Lead "Key" Dan Auerbach is the rare singer-guitarist who's remarkable for both his singing (dirty baritone) and his guitar (virtuoso finger-picking).

Janelle Monáe

She wears a Mohawk and a Colonel Sanders tie, singing songs from a sci-fi-themed debut, but don't fall for red herrings. The real story is a traditional one: the ridiculous poise she shows as a singer, dancer, and, most of all, bandleader.

Mates of State

Enough with the stone-faced pop music. Even if it's complex, letter-perfect pop music, a little recognition that the band is having fun goes a long way. Jason Hammel (the husband) and Kori Gardner (the wife) beam like they're taking nothing for granted — especially the crowds that augment their minimalist keys and drums with rounds of giddy hand-clapping.

The prospect of seeing Bon Iver play songs from the elegiac headphone masterpiece For Emma, Forever Ago won't exactly enthrall you after listening to it in your earbuds. But at the show, Justin Vernon's plaintive falsetto set within four-part harmonies set against galloping drums somehow manages to push the band into blindingly heavy Neil Young & Crazy Horse territory.

The Felice Brothers

The Band-era Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are the obvious musical templates for these Catskills-based misfits. That they embody them live is the impressive part. Both their tender ballads and Appalachian stomps devolve into feverish jams that threaten to collapse onto themselves (taking the accordion with them). But they always get reeled back in.

White Rabbits

This Brooklyn-via-Missouri sextet is blanketing the country with blitzkrieg live sets, propelled by a two-drummer setup that adds a little terror to what are already tautly wound pop songs. And while there are six guys onstage playing instrumental switcheroo, this isn't another bloated "collective." Every switch — barrelhouse piano! ska-influenced guitar! — seems inspired.

Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses

Bingham, an ex-rodeo bull rider, is electrifying in a somebody-might-take-a-pool-cue-to-the-head kind of way. This convergence of charisma, energy, and songwriting suggests what Springsteen might have been like had he come up in Billy Bob's instead of the Stone Pony.

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best concert tours of 2009

Top 10 Concerts of 2009

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As a music photographer, every gig presents a new challenge and an opportunity to make great images, but as 2009 comes to a close, it's time to look back at some of the best tours, festivals, and events of the year.

In 2009, I photographed 73 concerts and events, and the year was packed with a ton of great tours. These are my picks for the top ten best gigs to photograph in 2009.

Concert Photos: No Doubt 2009

It was true in July when I shot it and I think it's true now: No Doubt was the tour of the year . I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face in the photo pit during this show and I can say without any hesitation that I loved every second of photographing Gwen Stefani and crew. With big white lights, a tremendously energetic band, and non-stop action, I think No Doubt locked it up early as the top-shelf show in 2009.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Induction Ceremony Performances

With a working pass for this show that featured some of the great music legends of our time, I was living the dream with this show. Without a doubt, the highlight was photographing Metallica on stage in an all-star jam with Joe Perry, Ron Wood, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Flea.

KISS in Concert

When photogenic bands come to mind, I think music shooters have to think of KISS , and this fact was only cemented by the Alive/35 tour this year. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, though they may be pushing 60, were still epic on stage and it was a pure adrenaline rush photographing this show. Non-stop posing and mugging by the band along with arena-blinding white lights made this a sure bet of an assignment – like shooting fish in a barrel.

Concert Photos: Willie Nelson, Farm Aid 2009

With Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, John Mellancamp, and a host of other big names, Farm Aid 2009 was a stellar event that brought together a huge amount of talent on one stage. But aside from the star power, one thing I love about shows like this are the diversity of media that come in for coverage. It was a pleasure to talk shop with photographers who had come in from all over the country to photograph the benefit. What's more, the Farm Aid volunteers were a joy to work with.

Mayhem Fest

Concert Photos: Slayer @ Mayhem Fest

I loved photographing Mayhem Fest . Metal is always hugely fun to photograph, but what made this a standout event for me was all-access and the thrill of a high-pressure photo shoot with metal legends Slayer .

Semi Precious Weapons

Semi Precious Weapons

When I heard that Semi Precious Weapons were playing Gramercy Theatre, my favorite live music venue in New York City, it was a done deal: I was there. I did a promo shoot with the band before the show, then staked out a spot front and center for the main event. The epic lights of the theatre combined with the insanity of SPW were a match made in heaven, and exceeded all expectations.

Aerosmith!

Steven Tyler singing right into one's lens is not something that is easily forgotten, and kind of a gimmie for this list. But I'll take it. The one adjective that comes to mind for this show is simply “electrifying.” Aerosmith's tour opener in 2009 was pure love.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ the Pageant

Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was a magnetic subject when I photographed her in 2006, and the band's 2009 tour did not disappoint. While the lighting was a chaotic mix of deep washes and weird sidelighting, the dynamic singer made this one show that was pure eyecandy.

Concert Photos: Green Day

I'll be honest – Green Day put on an exhilarating show that exceeded my expectations. A big part of it was the crowd interaction – while we only had two songs to photograph, the band made it worthwhile. In the first two songs, Billie Joe had ran out into the audience, shaken hands with the front row, and made some kid's year by having him stage dive the floor of a packed out arena. With all that and nice lights, there was a lot to love about this performance.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

The Dillinger Escape Plan

Dillinger Escape Plan is one of those bands that always brings on an entertaining and unexpected set with one certainty: chaos. Capturing their show is as challenging as it is fun, and I had a blast in the pit while these guys tore it up on stage. Add the ability to use wireless flash and it's a done deal.

2009 was a great year for concerts. Though I photographed what seemed like far fewer shows than 2008, I had a blast. The above ten gigs are what I felt were the most fun concerts to photograph, and many of which were opportunities to make some of my favorite images from the year.

These are a few of the event highlights of the year. What are yours?

You can see my Year in Review for 2009 here .

Get Social:

Great selection of shows for your best of 2009. I have to agree with your choice of KISS, they too were one of my favorite shows to shoot in 2009.

Hey groovehouse,

Thanks for the comment. Yup, after 35 years, KISS are still rocking arenas. I really had fun with them, and they were a great end-of-the-year show to help cap off 2009. I’d shoot them again any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

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Hi Todd !! A great selection of highlights. I was fortunate enough to shoot Green Day and KISS as well, and would be my top two. Most of that also has to do with this being my first full year shooting major bands. Others that would be on my list from 2009 would be Dave Matthews, Paramore, Alice Cooper, BB King, and Chickenfoot. I can’t wait for 2010 !! Thanks so much for the inspiration your shots give me, and happy shooting ! Gene

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Great list Todd. I shot a lot of concerts this year and here are my top five: Jeff Tweedy, Rusted Root, Roger Clyne and The Peacmakers, Cage The Elephant and Dierks Bentley.

Happy and prosperous New Years to you – thank you for sharing all your shots and photography insights.

gorgeous shots on the year Todd, you never disappoint! Am looking forward to what you bring us in 2010!

Great work Mr. todd… amazing photos. My highlight of this year was the Chile-Argenita Rally Dakar. Amazing!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tolexx/3199394333/in/set-72157614770131816/

was a grear year, isn’t it???

Great year for you Todd…easily my fav of you for 09 would be the in your face Tyler shot, cant look past it

hope 2010 proves to be another successful year!

My fav would have to be http://www.flickr.com/photos/geeewocka/3825606656/ – August Burn Red on the Parkway Drive DVD Tour…lights were hell all night but i managed to grab this pearl at his peak mic spin moment :)

Truly has been a great year.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs where great this year, caught them twice here in the UK at Glastonbury & then Leeds festival.

Blur at Glastonbury was my highlight of the year.

Have a great 2010 Todd.

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Can’t wait to see your Lady Gaga pics.

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The Cribs @ Bowery Ballroom. This was my first year shooting bands and I feel very very fortunate to have shot them. they put (in my opinion) the best show of 2009 and I cannot wait to shoot them again in January 2010!

Amazing stuff Todd! Danny North loves your shots and hes my bloody hero! I saw Semi Precious Weapons with Shiny Toy Guns @ Webster Hall here in NYC and they played an amazing gig also!

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Hey Todd – Great set, Great year!! Not been around so much (My little boy is eight weeks old today!) so, happy new year to you and yours – keep on shooting.

No I don’t agree, this is not best of 2009. There are a lot better ones on your site. This may be your personal favorites.

Thanks for the comment. These are the top ten concerts of 2009, not the top ten images. These are the events that were the most fun to photograph and experience as a music photographer, but they didn’t necessarily produce the best images. My favorite images of the year would be a separate post.

Great work. Hope to see more of these concerts on the roll. Best thing being your pictures talk, that’s how a photographer should be the pictures, should talk. I can feel the concerts. If you can send me a link of your till now best collection you have, would be great. Are you on phacebook? Thanks for reverting back Todd. Hope to see you some time in India.

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Very good choise. Slayer, Kiss and Aerosmith are the best.

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U2 tops highest-grossing concert tour list for 2009

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In just 20 beautiful days on the concert trail last year, U2 racked up the highest-grossing North American tour of 2009, pulling in $123 million at the box office in a year in which overall concert business was one of the music industry’s remaining bright spots.

The Irish quartet’s bar-raising 360 Tour of sports stadiums , which visited 16 cities, sold more than 1.3 million tickets, translating to a nightly average of just more than 82,000 fans, according to Pollstar, the concert-industry tracking publication.

U2 was the only act to cross the $100-million mark last year, and its nightly average at the box office pummeled the competition, at nearly $7.7 million per show. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band , which tallied nearly $95 million from 58 shows, follows U2 at No. 2 in Pollstar’s ranking. But the hard-charging New Jersey outfit also drew more than 1 million fans to those shows, one of six tours to cross that threshold last year.

Compare that with 2008, when only one act -- country star Kenny Chesney -- topped 1 million in total ticket sales.

Elton John and Billy Joel’s ever popular joint tour placed the pair at No. 3 last year, with a box office gross of $88 million in 31 performances. Britney Spears’ Circus tour helped the erstwhile teen pop queen rebound from her personal and professional travails, placing her at No. 4 with a total take of almost $83 million.

She came in ahead of veteran Australian rock band AC/DC , which rounds out Pollstar’s top 5 with just under $78 million from 47 shows.

“It does appear that overall gross revenue is up,” Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said this week, noting that the magazine is still tabulating final figures for the year. “The No. 1 tour came in higher than last year’s No. 1 tour, the No. 25 tour was higher and the No. 50 tour was higher.”

That’s in line with Billboard’s recent report showing concert business up worldwide, with total revenue of $4.4 billion, up nearly 12% over 2008, and total attendance of 73 million similarly up nearly 13% from the previous year.

Part of that result came from particularly strong response to many of those tours. In addition to U2 and Springsteen, Chesney, the Jonas Brothers (who finished at No. 7, up from the siblings’ No. 13 ranking the previous year) and the Dave Matthews Band, each pulled in more than 1 million ticket buyers during the year. Chesney came in sixth in 2009.

The Dave Matthews Band, which Pollstar recently crowned the top North American concert attraction of the decade , landed at No. 8 in 2009. Because the group finished within the top 10 in just about every year of the decade, it pushed ahead of others who logged more business at the box office in any single year. Just behind the band was Fleetwood Mac.

The other touring attraction that crossed the 1 million ticket sales mark was a relatively new one, “Walking With Dinosaurs -- The Live Experience,” an event that put a life-size 42-foot-long animated T. Rex and other creatures long extinct into sports arenas across the country. A relatively affordable average ticket price of $39.77, combined with a field-dwarfing 307 performances, helped attract large numbers of families with young children.

“Walking with dinosaurs” also generally describes the upper ranks of Pollstar’s list, which is typically top-heavy with acts that launched their careers in the ‘80s or earlier. Still, there are enough younger artists charting well to suggest the concert business won’t collapse when the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, John, U2 and Springsteen eventually retire.

Post-grunge Canadian rock band Nickelback finished the year at No. 11, behind Metallica, posting $47.4 million in ticket revenue from 66 shows. Other relative youngsters in the top 20 are Miley Cyrus (No. 13, with $45 million), the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (No. 14, $43.7 million), Rascal Flatts (No. 18, $42.2 million) and Coldplay (No. 19, $40.8 million).

McCartney played just 11 shows during the year, but they earned him the No. 20 spot, with a gross of $40.7 million, placing him right behind Chris Martin’s Beatles-inspired band, Coldplay .

The only hip-hop act to make the top 50 is rapper Lil Wayne, who brought in $32.1 million in 58 shows, a feat he’s unlikely to repeat in 2010 given the one-year prison sentence he’s facing after pleading guilty in October to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

The distinction of the highest average ticket price in the top 50 went to Cher; admission to her shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace was $140.56 on average, not unexpected in the high-priced realm of Las Vegas entertainment.

That was still less than 2008’s winner, Madonna, who averaged $153.88 per ticket and also came in No. 1 on the Pollstar rankings, with a total take of $105 million.

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TOP-SELLING TOURS OF 2009

Average gross for tours saw a boost from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, the highest-grossing tour (as of November 24, 2008) was Madonna, bringing in $6,071,181.

By Compiled by Sarah Benzuly

Average gross for tours saw a boost from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, the highest-grossing tour (as of November 24, 2008) was Madonna, bringing in $6,071,181. Last year (as of November 30, 2009), the highest-grossing tour was U2, at $7,689,626. For 2008, the number 10 spot went to American Idols Live, which only brought in $544,754 as compared to Miiley Cyrus in 2008 ($1,012,567). What will this year see?

— Courtesy Pollstar Concert Pulse, November 30, 2009

The Concert Pulse ranks each artist by its average box-office gross per city in North America and is based on data reported within the last three months.

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78 Days of Fun

best concert tours of 2009

22 Single ladies celebrate: Sasha Fierce herself (a.k.a. Beyoncé ) takes over Madison Square Garden.

23 Catch one of fourteen features from south of the border during the Hola Mexico Film Festival at the Quad Cinema.

24 Mahler! The New York Philharmonic performs  Symphony of a Thousand at Avery Fisher Hall.

25 Ashanti takes her turn easing on down the road with LaChanze in the City Center Encores! production of The Wiz.

26Take a seat at City Opera at the River to River Festival and hear Massenet’s charming one-act love story La Navarraise.

27 Zone out stoner-style during BAM’s All Night Bong movie marathon with Smiley Face, Pineapple Express, and Friday.

28 Check out the opening of this year’s award-winning design of P.S. 1’s new outdoor installation , Afterparty.  Plus: Gay-pride parade (a Sunday long reputed to be almost always sunny).

29 American Ballet Theatre’s fiery Sylvia features an angry goddess , a testy nymph, and Orion himself. Hope for spunky Michele Wiles in the title role.

30 Austin, Texas, instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky —creators of “cathartic mini-symphonies”—take over SummerStage.

best concert tours of 2009

1 Peter Terzian reads from Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums that Changed Their Lives at the Bryant Park Reading Room.

2 Wake up early to nab tickets for self-proclaimed theater geek Anne Hathaway ’s Shakespeare in the Park turn as Viola in Twelfth Night.

3 Can Target inspire art? The Ontological-Hysteric Theater examines Brooklynites’ shopping habits in the possibly hilarious Behind the Bullseye.

4 Conor Oberst comes to the River to River Festival, while the New York Philharmonic does Gershwin for its “Born on the Fourth of July” concert.

5 Contemplate the rural life with a trip to Socrates Sculpture Park to see “State Fair,” a group exhibition where artists riff on farming and pageantry.

6Beat the heat with Public Enemies, the action-packed Depression-era drama with Johnny Depp , Christian Bale, and Marion Cotillard.

7 Delve into French experimental theater with Ariane Mnouchkine’s dreamy Les Éphémères at the Park Avenue Armory.

8 Argentine songstress Juana Molina joins São Paulo singer-composer Curumin and Buenos Aires mash-up king El G at SummerStage.

9Choreographer Shen Wei reveals his troupe, Shen Wei Dance Arts , in the complete version of his iconic triptych Re-(I, II, III).

10 Indulge your inner child with fourteen classic arcade games like Donkey Kong, Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man, and Space Invaders at the Museum of the Moving Image’s interactive “Behind the Screen” exhibit.

11 Head-bang with toddlers to punk-rock duo Japanther during WhitneyKids Punk Rock! 

12 Make the day trip to Bard to catch the last performance of a rare revival of Lucinda Childs ’s Dance, the choreographer’s 1979 masterwork.

13 Head to KeySpan Park to worship two musical veterans of the stage: indie pioneers Yo La Tengo and alt-rockers Wilco .

14Tonight at the Hispanic Society : “Sonic Episodes: An Evening of Audio Works,” part of Dia’s alfresco event series.

15 Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black bring their absurdist antics to Gowanus’ Bell House before the premiere of their new Comedy Central show.

16 Jack White’s new new band, The Dead Weather , thrashes out lean blues rock in a show at Terminal 5.

17Bliss out while Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel fall in and out of love in the highly anticipated, fantastical ( 500) Days of Summer.

18Go to the Siren Music Festival , anchored by Built to Spill, Danish duo the Raveonettes, and cheeky boppers Micachu & the Shapes.

19It’s been over a week since its release. Bypass the lines for Sacha Baron Cohen ’s long-awaited and litigious Brüno.

20 Take in “ Cézanne to Picasso : Paintings From the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection,” on the wall at MoMA.

21 Pack a picnic and dance barefoot as activist and songwriter Jackson Browne hits the stage in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn!

22 Adventurous new-music ensemble Alarm Will Sound plays interpretations of Aphex Twin tunes at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

23 Fun-loving composer and violist Ljova (a.k.a. Lev Zhurbin) brings his raucous Kontraband to the Jewish Museum.

24 Budapest’s Béla Pintér and Company premieres its rowdy, farcical  Peasant Opera.

25 Choose between two quality Russian dramas : Maly Drama Theatre’s Life and Fate or Boris Godunov at the Park Avenue Armory.

26 They just want to please the ladies: Masters of the slow jam Ginuwine and Joe croon their best at SummerStage.

27 Get riled up at Madison Square Garden with Green Day ’s 21st Century Breakdown tour.

28 Attend BAM’s 30th-anniversary screening of The Muppet Movie ; bone up on Jim Henson lore beforehand at “Muppets History 201.”

29 When do patriotism and terrorism cross paths? Find out at We Declare You a Terrorist at the Public Theater’s Summer Play Festival.

30 South African a cappella virtuosos Ladysmith Black Mambazo break out their moves for BAM’s R&B festival at MetroTech. 

31 What’s summer sans Judd Apatow ? Funny People opens. Plus: Rebel Without a Cause at Film Forum.

best concert tours of 2009

1 Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, formerly of Luna, perform their hauntingly evocative score to Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests at Prospect Park.

2Ninety-year-old Merce Cunningham ’s troupe performs a signature minimalist, site-specific Event at Rockefeller Park.

3 Furniture with SMS and Bluetooth capability? Marvel at technologically unusual works by Israeli designer and architect Ron Arad in “No Discipline” at MoMA.

4 Beach-read snobs, take note: Thomas Pynchon ’s new hippie-noir book, Inherent Vice, now available.

5 Music collective Bang on a Can ’s new offshoot, Asphalt Orchestra, covers everything from Stew to Björk at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

6 Expect lace and air guitar at Celebrate Brooklyn!’s Purple Rain sing-along in Prospect Park, marking the 25th anniversary of Prince ’s album.

7 Julie & Julia, Paper Heart, and G.I. Joe (a.k.a. Oscar bait , twee overload , and blockbuster ) hit theaters. Choose one or all three!

8 Special guest Andrew W.K. ups the energy during Radio Happy Hour, an old-timey live variety show at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

9 Head to Second Stage for the last evening of Vanities: A New Musical, Tony-winner Judith Ivey ’s adaptation of Jack Heifner’s beloved play.

10 City Ballet and ABT’s seasons are over, so head to the Joyce for your pointe-shoe fix: Tulsa Ballet ’s diverse, extraordinarily talented troupe.

11Ten storytellers take the stage and spin five-minute tales about food during the NY Moth StorySLAM at the Nuyorican Poets Café .

12Euripides’ The Bacchae features Jonathan Groff , and André De Shields at Shakespeare in the Park.

13Settle into an easy groove when hip-hop pioneers (and lyrical mavericks) De La Soul take over the Nokia Theatre.

14 Bring special brownies to the opening of Ang Lee ’s film Taking Woodstock. Also: Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company at SummerStage.

15 Animal Collective touches down at the Prospect Park Bandshell, and Long Island surfers compete at the Bunger 21st Annual Surf Contest.

16Sixteen days, twenty venues, over 1,300 performances. Take in what you can at the New York International Fringe Festival .

17Arrive early to snag a spot in Bryant Park at the sunset screening of Spielberg’s 1977 Oscar-winning sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

18Ease into the week with a peek at Richard Avedon ’s emblematic photographs in “Avedon Fashion 1944–2000” at the International Center of Photography.

19Escape to an air-conditioned theater for the romantic Time Traveler’s Wife, with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana .

20Gape at the wild, organic moves of Brooklyn’s fiercest dancing ladies, the Urban Bush Women .

21Scale the multilevel Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit inside the Guggenheim.

22Pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the Mark Morris Dance Group perform together at Mostly Mozart.

23Brace for blood. Tarantino takes on Nazi Germany in Inglourious Basterds, which opened on Friday.

24Walk west for Christopher O’Riley’s classical-piano takes on Nirvana and Radiohead at the HighLine Ballroom.

25Urban bachata pioneers Bachata Heightz perform a mash-up of rock, hip-hop, R&B, and mambo in a free show at Highbridge Park.

26Head to the Brooklyn Museum for lo-fi video works by feminist artists at “Reflections on the Electric Mirror: New Feminist Video.”

27It’s a love story, baby: Taylor Swift brings her guitar and songwriting chops to Madison Square Garden. Resistance is futile.

28 Big Fan, the directorial debut from the writer of The Wrestler, opens at the Angelika, starring Patton Oswalt as a N.Y. Giants obsessive .

29Add a touch of class to the end of summer at the perennially underrated Bargemusic ; nothing’s quite so calming as listening to a string quartet (the Voxare, today) on a small barge in Dumbo.

30RadioTheatre’s yearlong celebration of Edgar Allan Poe ’s 200th birthday continues at Under St. Marks.

31Discover rescued rarities at the Met Museum’s “ Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.”

1Catch the tail end of “ Claes Oldenburg : Happenings Films” at the Whitney, a series of previously unseen works from the sixties.

2Watch adorable Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez , hilarious bass Peter Mattei, and up-and-coming soprano Joyce DiDonato when the Met HD screening series shows the farcical Il Barbiere di Siviglia .

3The German-Australian glass whiz Klaus Moje ’s 30-year retrospective “ Painting With Glass ” nears its close at the Museum of Arts and Design.

4Attention,  Office Space fans: Extract —the new Mike Judge movie , with Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, and Kristen Wiig—opens today.

5Dance like crazy at the final P.S. 1 “Warm Up” party of the season. Remember: There are ten long months until the next one.

6Snag a ticket to one of Broadway’s award-winning shows — Hair or the timeless West Side Story —while the current casts may still be in place.

7Catch Philip Seymour Hoffman onscreen—before he appears as Iago in the Public Theater’s Othello —in The Boat That Rocked.

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Year in review: Best concerts of 2009

  • Published: Dec. 26, 2009, 9:01 a.m.
  • Staff reports

By DONNIE MOORHOUSE and KEVIN O'HARE

There is no doubt that ticket sales alone show that arena and stadium tours by the Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears were among the most popular with fans. But great music is not limited to the largest venues. With that in mind, here are the best performances local music fans were able to take in during 2009:

Fountains of Wayne – Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton – March 1 The folks at the Iron Horse Entertainment Group thought it might be a good idea to close out their month-long 30th anniversary celebration with a performance from Fountains of Wayne, featuring Northampton resident Chris Collingwood and writing partner Adam Schlesinger. They were right. The group performed acoustically, what Schlesinger called "the big, grown up acoustic concert." Opening with "Please Don't Rock Me Tonight," the band delved deeply into jangly pop, segueing sharply to "Little Red Light," and "Someone to Love." Mixed in were the songs that have made Fountains of Wayne famous from the rollicking (even done acoustically) "Red Dragon Tattoo," and "Hey Julie."

Jeff Tweedy – Calvin Theatre, Northampton – March 27

The lead singer of seminal alt.country outfit Wilco gave new meaning to the “unplugged” format during his amazing solo acoustic show in Northampton.

Returning to the stage for his third encore at the Calvin, Tweedy unplugged his guitar and stepped in front of the microphone (and could be heard clearly from the front row to the balcony) for a two song stretch that included “Dreamer in My Dreams.“

It was a brilliant end to a 25-song set that saw Tweedy wander through the Wilco catalog over the course of a two hours. For good measure, he covered Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.”

Bruce Springsteen, XL Center, Hartford – April 24 It wasn't quite as spectacular as some of the dates late in his tour when he performed the entire versions of classic albums like "The River" and "Born to Run," but Bruce Springsteen certainly came to play when he appeared with the E Street Band in Hartford this night. For two hours and 40 minutes, Springsteen poured out the passion, electrifying a full house with a concert that was a combination of a frat house party, a spiritual journey, a boisterous rock 'n' roll rumble and a Southern tent revival meeting. Springsteen did only a handful of tracks from his latest album "Working on a Dream," preferring to play earlier masterworks like "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," "Promised Land," and "Cadillac Ranch," along with an unforgettable "stump the band" segment in which the Jersey troupe ripped through covers including "Wild Thing," John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over the World," and even a major rarity with a magnificent rendition of Springsteen's own 1973 song "The E Street Shuffle."

Diana Ross –MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Mashantucket, Conn – May 16

This American music icon appeared on the MGM Grand stage with just a five-piece band and two backing vocalists. It isn’t hard to imagine this show in a larger venue with a full orchestra and life-size video screens playing a retrospective of Ross’s expansive career. Don’t be surprised if Ross takes this production to the next level for a blockbuster tour.

Regardless of the accoutrements, the song list was unparalleled. She started with “I’m Coming Out” and included “My World Is Empty Without You,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” and “Stop in the Name of Love.”

Not convinced? She followed with “Can’t Hurry Love,” “Touch Me in the Morning,” “Love Child,” and “Ease On Down the Road.”

"Wild Weekend" Tribute to NRBQ's Steve Ferguson – Iron Horse Music Hall – June 26

It would have been an extraordinary musical night even if the ailing guest of honor hadn’t driven up from Louisville to get up on stage and perform with many of his former NRBQ mates.

Steve Ferguson, however, was never one to sit by and watch while others paid him homage. So despite suffering the effects of terminal cancer, the band’s original guitarist shocked the crowd when he spent nearly all of Friday’s 21-song, hour-and-35 minute show on stage. Though he did not sing, he delivered plenty of his typically stellar guitar work, drawing repeated standing ovations and evoking a whole lot of emotion for those in the audience and those sharing the stage.

The three-night tribute was assembled by Al Anderson, the man who took over NRBQ’s main guitar duties after Ferguson initially departed the group, and the band included NRBQ guitarists Ferguson, Anderson and Johnny Spampinato; the band’s rock steady founding bassist Joey Spampinato; and its former singer and resident wildman Frank Gadler. Session drummer supreme Shawn Pelton and former Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist and longtime Anderson cohort Reese Wynans added further fuel to an incendiary lineup. Their material included early BQ classics like “C’mon Everybody,” and “Flat Foot Flewzy.”

"Rock guitar players come a dime a dozen," Anderson said between songs. "Rock 'n' roll guitar players don't. This one is the best one in the world," he added, pointing to Ferguson that night as the crowd cheered. Sadly, Ferguson passed away in early October, but this was one weekend to cherish.

Green Day – XL Center – July 24 Some might contend that Green Day has matured into a veteran arena rock band. They obviously didn't get hit with a Super Soaker at the band's summer show in Hartford. Green Day's three hour performance at the XL Center in 2009 wasn't all that different from a Webster Theater show they did in Hartford in 1999; just more people, a bigger stage, and more powerful Super Soakers. Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was crazed. It's certain that somewhere along the way Armstrong has taken cues from Bono, Springsteen and James Brown as well. Perhaps that is why Green Day has become the standard bearer for bands you can take your parents to go see. There was no way Mom and Dad were waiting this one out in the car.

Paul McCartney – Fenway Park, Boston – Aug. 5

The former Beatles is not playing massive tours these days but he did stage a series of shows in major cities in North America and abroad, and he was at the top of his game in Fenway Park.

During the first night of a two-night stand in the old ballpark, McCartney and his superb band focused plenty on songs that he wrote with John Lennon and he loaded the set list with classics from the Fab Four.

Particular standouts included “Band On The Run;” the scorching 1965 rocker “I’m Down;” a moving cover of the late George Harrison’s “Something,” with McCartney playing a ukulele that Harrison had given him; and a flawlessly executed “Paperback Writer,” complete with harmonies that were far more in tune than what the Beatles’ did to the song when they played it in Japan in 1966.

As the concert wound down, the energy level quadrupled, thanks to songs like the rarely-played-live masterpiece “A Day in the Life,” which was blended with Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” and McCartney even did a shrieking and thundering “Helter Skelter,” showing that he’s lost virtually nothing off the rockin’ end of his voice, even at age 67.

The Decemberists – Mountain Park, Holyoke – Aug. 16

This was one show where the venue was as much of a star as the action on stage.

Mountain Park, once one of the great amusement parks in New England had originally opened as a trolley park in 1895. It had been silenced since being closed 22 years ago, and it was eventually demolished.

Eric Suher, who also owns such Western Massachusetts musical Meccas as the Iron Horse, Pearl Street and the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, bought the 60 acres of Mountain Park in 2006 for $1.6 million. He promised to bring it back to life and he appeared justifiably pleased this night with what one veteran Holyoke police officer described as “a miracle.”

After Saturday’s free warm-up show featuring Sonny Landreth and others, Sunday’s concert by the Decemberists was the first official paid concert at the new Mountain Park and the band shined under the stars

The Decemberists artfully moved from lighter fare such as “The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone),” into hugely melodic tracks like “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” and the harrowing story of a father who murders his children, the aggressive and highly-percussive “The Rake’s Song.”

It was likely just a warm-up for what is expected to be a much more extensive concert schedule at Mountain Park in 2010.

The Kings of Leon – Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn. – Sept. 9 At a time when few rock bands are spending weeks, never mind months riding high on the sales charts, these modern Southern rockers sold steadily - and surged even more this summer – building momentum since their breakthrough fourth disc "Only By the Night" was issued last year. Material from that five-million selling album provided plenty of the backbone for Kings of Leon's rockin' performance before a full house at the Mohegan Sun Arena. But the Kings also delved into their sturdy catalog for material during their 21-song, hour-and-40-minute concert. They took the stage pumping the huge, throbbing, drum-snapping sound of "Crawl," the first track from "Only By The Night," and the set built impressively thanks to songs like the lust-filled groove of "I Want You" and their huge hit single "Sex on Fire," which topped Billboard's "Modern Rock" chart for eight weeks.

Boyz II Men –The Big E – Sept 20

More than 7,000 fans showed up for some “Motownphilly” and Boyz II Men delivered the song and a great sense of the fervor they created a full decade ago when they became the best-selling male vocal group of all time.

Minus Michael McCary who left the group in 2003 for health issues, Nathan and Wanya Morris along with Shawn Stockman performed to recorded tracks while marrying their Philly soul to Motown’s legacy by covering that label’s greats.

The set list included classics like The Miracles “Tracks of My Tears,” The Temptations “Just My Imagination,” and a gritty cover of Edwin Starr’s “War.” The band closed out with their own hit “End of the Road.”

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The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years

The list below was born out of some pretty serious arguments. Was Bruce Springsteen better in 1975 or 1978? When did Kanye hit his stride? Which was more awesome, “The Joshua Tree” or “Zoo TV”? The concerts and tours that made the final cut weren’t just huge spectacles, they deepened the power of rock & roll itself – from Neil Young thrashing out 20-minute jams with Crazy Horse to Beyoncé turning stadium glitz into a personal outpouring. “You’re almost levitating on the energy from the audience,” says Keith Richards. “And I miss it when I’m not doing it.” Here are the people who’ve done it best.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Worldwide Tour

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (live at Golden Gate Park, June 25, 1967)

Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 debut album, Are You Experienced, established his genius. The 200-some shows he played to support the album assured his legend. Backed by his ecstatically indulgent English rhythm section — bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell — Hendrix did nothing short of liberate the electric guitar, turning each show into a pyrotechnic exploration. “I thought, ‘My God, this is like Buddy Guy on acid,’ ” Eric Clapton later recalled. For the U.S., the coming-out party was the Monterey Pop Festival, where Hendrix set his guitar ablaze, terrifying the fire marshal while leaving the crowd spellbound. As the Experience toured that year, they played alongside Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens in every type of venue, from theaters to biker bars. “We also did a graduation ball in Paris in March 1967, a really plush place,” Mitchell recalled. “There was an oompah band on before us, and they would not leave the stage. I remember one of our roadies, in a final act of desperation, pushing the trombonist’s slide back into his mouth – blood and teeth everywhere.” When the shows went right, however, Hendrix was a tour de force. His sense of showmanship went back to his years as a sideman with Little Richard; dressed in radiant psychedelic frills, he banged the neck of his guitar, bit its strings and played it behind his head. “With Jimi, it was a theater piece,” Soft Machine drummer and onetime Hendrix tourmate Robert Wyatt once observed. “The drama, the pace, the buildups and drops.” The peak Summer of Love moment came in early June, when the Experience played London. With the Beatles in the crowd, Hendrix opened with the title track from  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been released just two days earlier. “1967 was the best year of my life,” he declared later. “I just wanted to play and play.”  Kory Grow

James Brown at Boston Garden

James Brown Boston Garden 1968

On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. In the aftermath, America burned. There were riots in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Chicago; Kansas City, Missouri; and other cities. In Boston, city leaders expected more violence to come. Amid this tension, James Brown, the most explosive African-American musician of the era, pulled off a miracle. Brown and his band were booked to play Boston Garden on April 5th. The city considered canceling all public events that night, but the concert’s promoter, local City Councilman Thomas Atkins, convinced Mayor Kevin White that calling off a show of that magnitude might lead to even more anger and violence. “If [his] concert had not occurred,” recalled local radio DJ James “Early” Bird, “we would have had the biggest problem in the history of Boston since the Tea Party.”

Frustrating to Brown was the decision to televise the show, a way of keeping people out of the streets that would also drive down ticket sales. “But he had an obligation to honor Dr. King,” says Brown’s saxophonist and bandleader Pee Wee Ellis, and after Brown obtained the fee he wanted, everything was set.

“The show went on just as it had in all the other places we had played,” says trombone player Fred Wesley. “It was a regular show.” Of course, in 1968, the “regular show” meant a display of raw energy and dynamic power unlike anything else in music. Dressed in a black suit, hair in a tight pompadour, Brown moved with lightning quickness, his screams rattling the rafters, as he drove the band through his hits. They did “I Got You (I Feel Good)” in a double-time blur, and “Cold Sweat” featured an incredible solo showcase for “funky drummer” Clyde Stubblefield.

Still, Wesley, who had only recently become a part of Brown’s band, remembers a palpable sense of fear among the band members, and tension in the arena: “We didn’t know if there was a war against black people, or if a race war was happening. As we got to the stage, we were still wary about what might happen.”

But what ended up impressing him most was what amazed him about James Brown every night: his ability to hold and command a crowd. As the set reached its climax during Brown’s dramatic “cape act,” young fans began rushing the stage, and white police officers ran in to restore order. Shoving ensued, and the moment of mayhem many had anticipated seemed to have finally arrived.

But Brown quickly interceded. “You’re not being fair to yourself and me or your race,” he told the crowd. “Now, are we together, or we ain’t?” Turning to Stubblefield, he ordered, “Hit the thing, man,” and the band launched into a furious version of “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me).” Brown was even joined onstage by Mayor White, whom he announced as a “swinging cat.” Brown exited the stage shaking hands with the people up front, as much like a political leader as a soul star.

In the weeks to come, requests for Brown to appear elsewhere poured in, including one to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak to rioters. In August that year, he’d release his monumental message record, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.” “I was able to speak to the country during the crisis,” he later said, “and that was one of the things that meant the most to me.” Almost 50 years later, Ellis is still moved by the moment. “I’m proud to have been part of that,” he says. “I’m pleased that it came off the way that it did.” Jon Dolan

Big Brother and the Holding Company American Tour

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Like so much of Janis Joplin’s career, the tour to support Cheap Thrills, her 1968 album with Big Brother and the Holding Company, was a triumph wrought from chaos. On the eve of the tour, the ­singer announced she was leaving the band, leading to screaming fights with some of the musicians. Yet that very tension — combined with grueling album sessions that tightened what, as drummer Dave Getz admits, “wasn’t a tight band” — made for a riveting farewell. The combination of her wild-child rasp and Big Brother’s wailing blues rock proved transformative. “By the end of ’68,” says Getz, “I don’t think there was a singer in rock & roll who could touch her.” David Browne

Elvis Comeback Special

Elvis Comeback Special

“Elvis was hardly ever nervous,” says drummer D.J. Fontana, remembering the NBC special that relaunched Presley’s career after years in Hollywood. “But he was then.” The highlight: an intimate sit-down set with his band, Fontana and guitarist Scotty Moore, that was almost like catching Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride back in 1954. “Performing with Elvis was amazing,” remembers Darlene Love, who sang backup for Presley on the show, “because we didn’t really know what to expect from him.” K.G.

Cream Farewell Tour

Cream Fillmore 1968

Eric Clapton ended Cream in 1968 after only two years, burned out and sick of keeping the peace between bandmates Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. But even as they were breaking up, Cream pushed the boundaries. “It had nothing to do with lyrics or ideas,” said Clapton. “It was much deeper, purely musical.” At Madison Square Garden, they played a wild, nearly 20-minute “Spoonful.” At San Francisco’s Fillmore, they played under the venue’s psychedelic light shows as Clapton, Baker and Bruce soloed simultaneously. As Roger Waters, who saw them at the time, put it, “It was an astounding sight and an explosive sound.” K.G.

Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison

Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison

“I remember walking through two sets of iron gates, and when I heard them close, I thought, ‘Man, I hope we get back out of here,’ ” Johnny Cash’s guitarist Bob Wootton recalls of his visit to San Quentin prison on February 24th, 1969. San Quentin was (and remains) California’s oldest prison, as well as the largest death-row facility in the country.

That day, as Cash stood onstage in his usual black suit, he was greeted by a sight that might have frightened a different performer: 2,000 hollering, charged-up inmates. But Cash, who always felt a special connection to prisoners, seemed to realize the gravity of the moment. “John was very solemn that day,” Wootton says. “We all were. It reminds you how much you take for granted. John connected with [the prisoners] in a way I never saw him connect with another audience.”

Cash had played prisons before – including an earlier San Quentin gig and, famously, California’s Folsom Prison. His show at San Quentin in 1969 was a full-on revue featuring the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers and Carl Perkins, and was shot for British TV. He performed with steely intensity, when he wasn’t cracking jokes to his audience. In a sense, he became one of them.

Cash treated his set list more as a guide than as a hard-and-fast program, but ended up catering to the inmates with songs like “Starkville City Jail” and Bob Dylan’s “Wanted Man.” Cash also wrote a song for the occasion – the twangy, brooding “San Quentin.” Its first line – “San Quentin, you’ve been livin’ hell to me” – prompted hooting and cheering from the crowd. “One more time!” they called out. “All right,” Cash said. “Hey, before we do it, though, if any of the guards are still speakin’ to me, can I have a glass of water?” The crowd laughed, then booed the guard.

One of the show’s standout moments was “A Boy Named Sue,” which made its world premiere before everyone in the prison, including the band. “I didn’t even know he had the song,” drummer W.S. Holland says with a laugh. “Back then, we didn’t have monitors and couldn’t hear all that much onstage. John just started doing it. The first time I actually heard the song was [later] in the studio.”

“A Boy Named Sue” became a Number One country single and crossed over to the pop charts, clearing a path for greater success, much to Cash’s amusement. “I’ve always thought it was ironic that it was a prison concert, with me and the convicts getting along just as fellow rebels, outsiders and miscreants should,” he wrote in his 1997 autobiography, “that pumped up my marketability to the point where ABC thought I was respectable enough to have a weekly network TV show.” K.G.

Ike and Tina Turner American Tour

Ike and Tina Turner American Tour

The Rolling Stones’ return to America in 1969, after three years away – a period that included Beggars Banquet and the death of guitarist Brian Jones – was what critic Robert Christgau described as “history’s first mythic rock & roll tour.” But on the 17-date spin through the States, time and again they were upstaged by their handpicked opening act, old friends Ike and Tina Turner and their combustible R&B revue.

The Stones met Ike and Tina among Phil Spector’s orbit in England. “I’d always see Mick in the wings,” Tina remembered of performances in the mid-Sixties. “I’d come out and watch him occasion­ally; they’d play music and Mick would beat the tambourine. He wasn’t dancing. And lo and behold, when he came to America, he was doing everything!” Jagger later admitted he “learned a lot of things from Tina.”

In the U.S., Ike and Tina won over a new audience with wild, sweat-drenched covers of the new rock & roll canon, including a brassy burst through the Beatles’ “Come To­gether” (“I said to Ike,” recalled Tina, “ ’Please, please let me do that song onstage’ ”). They spun through Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and a high-octane version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” that, by 1971, would become their biggest hit. Their take on Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” garnered its share of attention too, thanks to an orgasmic bridge that eventually got even raunchier. “I don’t think it can go any further,” Tina said in 1971, “because, as they say in New York, it’s getting porn­ographic.”

At Madison Square Garden, Jop­lin herself stopped by to assist on “Land of 1,000 Dances.” By the tour’s end, writers couldn’t control their enthusiasm. “ Vogue said it best,” said Tina. “ ’They came to see Mick Jagger, but they saw Ike and Tina, and they’ve been comin’ ever since.'”  Christopher R. Weingarten

Led Zeppelin World Tour

Led Zeppelin World Tour

Before the private planes, mountains of cocaine and allegations of black magic, Led Zeppelin were four blokes tearing a path through America for the first time. They hit the U.S. in late December 1968, just before their debut LP hit shelves. “I remember pulling up to a theater and the marquee said, ‘Vanilla Fudge, Taj Mahal and support,’ ” Robert Plant said in 2005. “I thought, ‘Wow, here we are: support!’ ”

Everyone knew their name soon enough. A month in, they unleashed a four-hour set at the Boston Tea Party. “We’d played our usual one-hour set, using all the material from the first album,” John Paul Jones said. “The audience just wouldn’t let us offstage.” Over 168 shows that year, as they unveiled new songs like “Whole Lotta Love,” Zep’s live fury and future promise came into view. “This group could become one of the biggest bands in history,” Jones said. “I hope we don’t blow it.” Andy Greene

Black Sabbath American Tour

Black Sabbath 1970

When Black Sabbath landed at JFK Airport for their first U.S. tour, Ozzy Osbourne scrawled “Satanist” as his religion on the immigration form. Many who saw their shows – opening for the Faces, Alice Cooper and the James Gang – didn’t know what to make of the shaggy Brits. A turning point came at New York’s Fillmore East. “I tore my floor tom off the riser and threw it at the audience,” says drummer Bill Ward. “I was like, ‘Fucking move! Do something!’ Soon everyone was headbanging.” Relentless touring in Europe had turned Sabbath into a brutal assault force. “It was primal,” says Ward of the tour. “There’s a lower self that went onstage, and it was just dynamite.” A.G.

The Who at the University of Leeds

the who live at leeds

After 1969’s rock opera Tommy , the Who wanted to return to their raw roots with a live album. Pete Townshend hated the recordings they made on their U.S. tour so much he threw them onto a bonfire. But everything clicked back home in England, in front of 2,000 ravenous fans at the University of Leeds, where the band tore through 38 songs, including a nearly 15-minute “My Generation.” Townshend later called it “the greatest audience we’ve ever played to.” A.G.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Winter American Tour

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Winter American Tour

In early 1970, Neil Young had finally become a star thanks to the huge success of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. During a quick break from that band and from recording his third solo LP, After the Gold Rush, Young decided to introduce his new fans to his other band, Crazy Horse – whose garage-rock thrash sounded the complete opposite of CSNY – on a run of clubs, theaters and the occasional junior-college auditorium. “When Neil plays with Crazy Horse, he goes into this other place and plays deep from inside,” says drummer Ralph Molina. “He becomes Neil Young, the real Neil Young.”

It was a sound no one had heard before. While other early jam bands like the Allman Brothers played with virtuosic professionalism, Crazy Horse produced raw chaos. Each night began with a brief solo acoustic set before Crazy Horse came onstage. Songs like “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” sometimes stretched to nearly 20 minutes, Young trading unhinged solos with guitarist Danny Whitten. “Danny had a strong musical presence, probably just as strong as Neil,” says bassist Billy Talbot. “We started doing songs longer, which Neil had never done before.”

In March, Bill Graham booked them at the Fillmore East for four shows in two nights, where they shared a bill with Miles Davis and the Steve Miller Band. Each night, Whitten sang “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown,” a song about scoring heroin, which he’d started using heavily around this time. One night backstage, Young wrote down the phrase “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done” on a sheet of paper. Within two years, Whitten was dead, and Young’s song about him, “The Needle and the Damage Done,” would appear on Harvest, the best-selling album of 1972. “It was such a loss,” said Young. “[It taught me] you can’t count on things. You just can’t take things for granted. Anything could go at any time.” A.G.

Elton John at the Troubadour

Elton John Doug Weston's Troubadour

When Elton John took the stage at Los Angeles’ Troubadour for the first night of his six-date residency, he was a little-known 23-year-old pop singer with thick glasses and greasy hair who had only recently changed his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight. When the show was over, Elton was a sensation. The stakes couldn’t have been higher: His debut LP, which had come out that spring, wasn’t selling. After what he called a “crisis meeting” with his label, it sent him to the States. The label made sure to pack the 300-capacity club with big names like David Crosby, Graham Nash and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. “The second night, Leon Russell was in the front row, but I didn’t see him until the last number,” Elton recalled. “Thank God I didn’t, because at that time I slept and drank Leon Russell.”

Neil Diamond introduced Elton. “I’m like the rest of you,” he said. “I’m here because of having listened to Elton John’s album.”

But those who had heard his album had no idea what they were in for: a poetic singer-songwriter with the flamboyance of a rock star. Album tracks like “Take Me to the Pilot” and “Sixty Years On” were played with a punk-like energy, Elton falling to his knees like Jerry Lee Lewis and knocking the piano bench over. The set also mixed in standards like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Honky Tonk Women.” And the rapturous reception he received encouraged him to experiment with even more adventurous stagecraft. “He seemed like a very quiet, subdued person,” says drummer Nigel Olsson. “All of a sudden, in front of an American audience, he started wearing Mickey Mouse ears and jumping up and down. That’s where all the strange gear started.” Unlike Elton’s debut album, which was packed with lush strings, harp and a synthesizer, he performed that night accompanied only by Olsson and bassist Dee Murray. “We just made a lot of noise,” Murray told Rolling Stone in 1987. “It was new. Elton was experimenting. Plus, we had to make up for the orchestra. We just socked it to them.”

Elton played five more nights as word started to spread around town: “His music is so staggeringly original,” Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote. In the coming weeks, “Your Song” began climbing the charts, eventually hitting Number Eight in January 1971.

Forty-seven years later, Elton still looks back fondly on that first trip to America. “It was just all systems go,” he says. “Nothing was impossible. You’re working on adrenaline and the sheer fact that you’re a success. I still love what I do, and I’m 70 years old. I love it even more.” A.G.

Aretha Franklin at the Fillmore West

Aretha Franklin Fillmore 1971

When promoter Bill Graham booked the Queen of Soul for his San Francisco venue for three nights in March 1971, no one was certain the matchup would work, including Aretha Franklin herself. “I wasn’t sure how the hippies reacted to me,” she said. As Franklin’s drummer Bernard Purdie recalls, “She’d been doing what you’d call Vegas-type shows. But this was a whole different audience.” No one needed to worry. With saxman King Curtis leading a band that included Billy Preston on organ, Franklin remade pop and rock classics in her own image — turning Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” into call-and-response gospel and reworking “Eleanor Rigby” as a funky stomp. The weekend of shows (portions of which were released a few months later as Live at Fillmore West ) had an appropriately glorious finale: On the last night, Franklin pulled Ray Charles out of the crowd. Though they’d just met that day, the two traded piano and vocal parts on an epic 19-minute version of “Spirit in the Dark.” “She turned the thing into church,” Charles said later. “I mean, she’s on fire.”  D.B.

B.B. King at the Cook County Jail

B.B. King at the Cook County Jail

B.B. King was playing a regular club gig on Chicago’s Rush Street in the late Sixties when he was invited to do a show at the local Cook County Jail. “I knew the inmates would enjoy it,” said warden Clarence English. “And that would be something they’d be beholden to us …  If you give extra ice cream or let them stay up late at night, [they] don’t fight and destroy each other.”

King’s new manager, Sid Seidenberg – who was helping King score a career resurgence by booking him at venues like the Fillmore West – saw an opportunity. He told King to take the gig, and invited press and a recording engineer for a future live album (Johnny Cash had released the successful At Folsom Prison two years earlier). But what began as a commercial move became something much deeper. “I couldn’t help but feel the oppression,” King said later. “My heart was heavy with feeling for the guys behind bars.” With a full big band behind him, King belted burning takes on “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “How Blue Can You Get?” with a fury the loud assembly evidently connected with. The inmates booed when he took the stage, but by the end they were hypnotized. The show was released on 1971’s Live at Cook County Jail, a document of an electric-blues master at the top of his game. “There were tears in people’s eyes,” English recalled. “In mine, too.” Will Hermes

The Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East

The Allman Brothers 1971

The Allmans were still young, hungry Georgia rockers when they booked three nights at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East in New York in early 1971 with the idea of recording a live album. “My brother always believed a live album was what the Brothers needed to do, and the record company finally agreed,” Gregg Allman recalled. “The Fillmore was just the logical choice. I don’t think we even discussed another venue.” The LP they made there, At Fillmore East, became their defining statement.

The Allmans were initially slotted into a bill headlined by Johnny Winter. But they came out guns blazing the first night, and when the hall emptied out after their set, they were promoted to headliner. With the band order duly shuffled, the Allmans had time to stretch out on spectacular journeys — “On those long jams, you climbed in and there was no tomorrow, no yesterday,” said drummer Butch Trucks. The gigs were hardly trouble-free. On the last night, a bomb scare delayed the start of the second show until the wee hours (“Good mornin’, everybody!” someone announced before “Statesboro Blues”). That early-a.m. set ended up becoming the keeper: “Whipping Post” sprawled over gorgeous melodic terrain for 23 minutes; “Mountain Jam” ascended for more than a half-hour. Atlantic Records engineer Tom Dowd oversaw the taping; unlike most live albums, nothing needed to be redone in the studio besides a few vocal overdubs. The LP went gold on October 25th, four days before guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. “It’s the best-sounding live album ever,” said the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. “It’s just fuckin’ awesome.” W.H.

The Band at the Academy of Music

The Band at the Academy of Music

The Band’s 1978 farewell movie, The Last Waltz, is the greatest concert film of all time. But even that performance didn’t reach the heights of the Band’s four-night stand at New York’s Academy of Music at the end of 1971. The shows, which were released as a box set in 2013, captured the Band at their tightest and funkiest, injecting New Orleans R&B swagger into their harmonious folk rock. It was a period of high morale and expert musicianship for the sometimes volatile group, the result of a decade of hard touring, with Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan and finally on their own. “There was a spell that everybody was doing really, really good,” the Band’s Robbie Robertson told Rolling Stone in 2013. “It was a roll of the dice after that. You just didn’t know what condition somebody was going to show up in.”

It was a moment the Band needed. Three years on from their groundbreaking debut, Music From Big Pink, their two most recent studio albums, Stage  
Fright and Cahoots, 
  had been greeted with 
lukewarm reviews.
 Aiming for some fresh 
energy, Robertson re
cruited veteran New
 Orleans band lead
er Allen Toussaint to 
put together a horn 
section for their holi
day gigs at the Academy of Music. It almost 
didn’t work out. To 
everyone’s horror,
 Toussaint’s briefcase 
full of horn arrangements was stolen on his way from New Orleans to the band’s Woodstock headquarters, where he was forced to rewrite the charts from memory. He wrote them in the wrong keys, and the Band had to relearn their songs in entirely new keys. Robertson recalled thinking, “We’re doomed.”

That anxiety lifted when they took the stage. “A chill ran through me,” Robertson said. “I thought, ‘OK, I’m feeling some magic in the air here. …’ As soon as we kicked off the first song,” he added, “we weren’t even touching the ground.”

The group set the tone with a taut, funky cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It,” and gracefully moved through its canon. The Band played with intensified warmth on “Unfaithful Servant” and “Get Up Jake” and jittery energy on deep album cuts like “Smoke Signal.” “We only did it once or twice,” said Robertson. “Levon [Helm] did an amazing job on it.” They turned “Chest Fever” and “Rag Mama Rag” into the stuff of a Crescent City street party, and returned to their roadhouse roots on Chuck Willis’ 1958 deep cut “(I Don’t Want to) Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes.”

The Band saved their biggest surprise for last. During their New Year’s Eve encore, they invited out their old friend Dylan, who had been out of the spotlight for years. Looking like his mid-Sixties self with aviators and a Telecaster, Dylan howled fiery takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Don’t Ya Tell Henry,” pausing only to talk through the arrangements. “We were being a little bit bold,” said Robertson. (The horns didn’t accompany Dylan, though: “He looked over and saw us, jumped back from the microphone and glared over his shades,” says tuba player Howard Johnson. “I told everyone, ‘OK, let’s just get offstage.'”)

Months later, highlights of those shows comprised the dazzling live double LP Rock of Ages , which critics immediately called one of the best live albums of the Seventies. For drummer Helm, it was simply “the most fun I ever had making a Band record.” D.B.

The Rolling Stones North American Tour

The Rolling Stones North American Tour

Mick Jagger has a clear memory of being onstage in the summer of 1972, singing “Love in Vain,” the Robert Johnson song the Rolling Stones had recently reworked into a soul ballad. Jagger still marvels at the live version – particularly Mick Taylor’s searing lead guitar, which slowly took over the song and culminated in a minute and a half of mournful, melodic virtuosity. “He was playing beautifully at this point,” says Jagger. “It was chilling. It was so sad and haunting. And the horns were really just subtly there. The beats and stops were usually perfect. That was one of my favorites.”

The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their powers in the summer of 1972: Keith Richards was playing the most fearless rhythm guitar of his career; Taylor stretched out their music to improbable peaks; and Jagger stalked the stage, whipping his belt and perfecting his ability to turn music, as critic Robert Greenfield observed, into a psychodrama.

It was the band’s first North American tour since Altamont, the disastrous, deadly California festival in December 1969. Shaken by that debacle and the death of Brian Jones, the band hunkered down in the studio, recording three masterpieces: 1969’s Let It Bleed, 1971’s Sticky Fingers and 1972’s Exile on Main Street . Their Sixties peers – the Beatles, Bob Dylan – were less prolific, withdrawing from public view. In their absence, the Stones had only grown in stature. “After 10 years of playing together, the Stones had somehow become the number-one attraction in the world,” Greenfield wrote in his chronicle of the tour, A Journey Through America With the Rolling Stones . “The only great band of the Sixties still around in original form playing original rock & roll … They were royalty.”

Both Jagger and Richards remember the excitement they felt ahead of the eight-week run. If the prospect of getting back on the road weren’t enough, the opening act on tour was a 22-year-old Stevie Wonder, whom Jagger made a habit of watching side-stage. “It was exciting, the feeling of anticipation – getting back in touch with what it is we did,” says Richards. Adds Jagger, “We were trying to get out of the studio, out of the South of France, and Keith had all these drug problems – so it was kind of good to get out on the road.”

The Stones’ office was overloaded with requests for tickets, priced at $6.50 (some fans sent in as many as 60 postcards each). A Dick Cavett TV special on the tour described the strange new phenomenon of scalping (plus the new concept of groupies). On opening night in Vancouver, 2,000 fans tried to force their way into the Pacific Coliseum, leaving 31 policemen injured – the first of several violent incidents. “That was in the day when people who didn’t have a ticket would show up,” says Jagger, “and be like, ‘OK, we’re here, we’re fucking going in.'”

Unlike the 1969 tour – which featured slow, slogging rhythms – the band played at breakneck speed. “Keith was doing that,” says Jagger. “I’m not trying to blame him for anything. He kept starting it.” Says Richards, “That was probably trying to catch up with lost time.” Songs like “Street Fighting Man” ran several minutes longer than the studio versions as the band ripped away. “We were probably searching for the ending,” Richards jokes.

For Richards, the highlight was playing the new songs from Exile on Main Street, recorded the previous summer. “Playing the Exile stuff for the first time was a real turn-on,” says Richards. After opening with “Brown Sugar,” the band tore through several Exile classics: “Rocks Off,” “Rip This Joint,” “Sweet Virginia.” Unlike later tours, Jagger hung around during Richards’ songs, howling away “Happy” into the same mic. “I always enjoyed doing that,” Richards says.

There were also a few throwbacks, including a horn-fueled version of “Satisfaction,” and “Bye Bye Johnny,” a Chuck Berry song that the Stones had been doing since 1963. According to Richards, they picked the deep cut for its rhythm: “There’s an interesting reverse beat going on that always intrigued us.”

On the road, the Stones encountered an older audience – one that ranged from about age 15 to 30. “There always used to be screamers, and they didn’t seem to worry much about the music,” Bill Wyman told Cavett. As a result, the band played with more focus. It helped that arena sound had improved: “Now you hear everything and you see everything, and there’s so much tension,” said Wyman.

For all the onstage professionalism, the backstage scene was as wild as any rock & roll tour before or since. The band traveled with the largest entourage in rock history up to that point – including a physician, label president Marshall Chess and a press corps Richards compared to a political campaign. The press included photographer Annie Leibovitz, and authors Terry Southern, Robert Greenfield and Truman Capote, who reluctantly joined for a Rolling Stone cover story. “For him, it was a social occasion,” says Jagger, who recalls Capote saying he hated the fact that Jagger wore the same clothes every night. “He would’ve liked it better now – I have such a bigger wardrobe.” (Capote never wrote his piece, claiming it “didn’t interest me creatively.”)

Jagger admits that the traveling party was “a bit distracting.” He had to watch his drug intake in order to perform. “I wasn’t on meth, out of my mind or anything,” Jagger says. “But I was having a lot of fun.” Richards’ favorite story “has got to be Bobby Keys and me nearly burning down the Playboy mansion,” he says. Staying at Hugh Hefner’s home, Richards and saxophonist Keys accidentally set fire to one of the bathrooms. “We were going through a doctor’s bag and we knocked over a candle,” says Richards.

At the same time, Jagger remembers “all these dark moments” on the tour. On the morning of July 17th in Montreal, dynamite exploded beneath one of the band’s vans, destroying equipment. “It was kind of scary because it was during the separatist movement of Quebec,” says Jagger. “I mean, it wasn’t just some random guy trying to blow up a truck.” The show, remarkably, went on that night, but a riot ensued when 500 fans with counterfeit tickets were turned away.

The following day, the band flew to a small airport in Rhode Island. As the entourage cleared customs, Richards took a nap on the side of a parked firetruck. He woke up to the flashing lights of a local newspaper photographer. “I just reacted,” Richards says. “I got up and hit in the general direction of the light and busted the guy’s camera. Things escalated from there. Then the fucking FBI got involved.” The photographer claimed he was assaulted, and Richards and Jagger were arrested and placed in a jail cell, while an unruly audience at Boston Garden waited. Fearing a riot, Boston Mayor Kevin White organized their release, and the band took the stage after midnight. “There was never a dull moment,” says Richards.

The offstage chaos was documented by the legendary photographer Robert Frank, who brought along a camera for a documentary that, as Jagger understood, would be “about playing and about music.” Instead, Cocksucker Blues was a cinéma vérité experiment full of lurid scenes: naked groupies having sex on an airplane, Jagger snorting cocaine, and groupie heroin use. The band blocked its release (though it became a popular bootleg). “[Robert] would initiate things,” says Jagger. “Most documentary filmmakers kind of get you to do things that you perhaps wouldn’t do if they weren’t there.” Jagger cites the famous scene where Richards and Keys threw a TV out of a Hyatt Hotel window: “Robert would probably say to Keith, ‘Keith, throw the TV out the window.’ They probably weren’t going to do that that morning.” But Richards disagrees. “Bobby Keys and I engineered that,” he says. “We called the cameraman ’round when we dismantled the TV. So that scene was directed by Bobby Keys and Keith fucking Richards.”

The tour wrapped with four shows at Madison Square Garden. Though the Stones had played 48 shows in only 54 days, they didn’t hold back. The July 25th show featured a sentimental sing-along of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and perhaps the fiercest “All Down the Line” ever played. “You almost feel like you’re levitating on the energy from the audience,” says Richards. “It’s a strange experience.” The tour ended the following night, on Jagger’s 29th birthday. Wonder joined the band for a raucous medley of “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and a revved-up, horn-fueled take on “Satisfaction” (Wonder said he wrote “Uptight” with “Satisfaction” in mind). A cake was rolled onstage, and the show ended with a pie fight among bandmates. The afterparty, thrown by Ahmet Ertegun, included Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

It was the end of an era. Afterward, Richards slid further into addiction, and was arrested on heroin and gun charges the next year. In 1974, after only five years, Taylor left the band to go solo. The Stones’ next North American tour, in 1975, featured stage props like a giant inflatable phallus, and little of the ragged charm of the 1972 tour. “There were no sort of guidelines,” Richards says. “You sort of made it up and you went along. It was a good feeling, that tour. A bit frenetic and a little blurry, like an old movie, you know? It was a bit jerky.” Patrick Doyle

David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars World Tour

Bowie Ziggy Stardust Tour

“I wanted the music to look like it sounded,” said David Bowie, who reigned over the moon-age daydream of his greatest tour as a crimson-haired, sparkly, makeup-slathered rock & roll space god. The music, thanks to the savage elegance of the Spiders From Mars, was even wilder, with an intense symbiosis developing between Bowie and chunky-toned guitarist Mick Ronson. “There was magic there,” says keyboardist Mike Garson. Ziggymania broke out across the world, and even as Bowie moved on, it never really stopped. A.G.

Van Morrison North American Tour

Van Morrison

It takes an extraordinary band to top the studio versions of songs like “Domino” and “Cyprus Avenue,” but with the 10-piece Caledonia Soul Orchestra, Van Morrison pulled it off night after night. With horns, strings and blazing jazz chops, the band was ready to “take the songs anywhere Van wanted to take them,” says guitarist John Platania. “Every performance of each song was different.” Morrison was, as usual, lost in the music, getting so into it that he gave himself backaches – the platform shoes he was favoring at the time probably didn’t help. He rarely addressed the crowd, and kept his band on its toes with subtle gestures that sparked dynamic shifts worthy of James Brown. “He had these signals behind his back,” says Platania. “He would flash his hand and spread his fingers out. We knew instantly we had to bring it down and then build it up again.” Morrison was stretching out, toying with his phrasing, elongating syllables like a jazz singer. The band ended when the tour did – but it lives on in Morrison’s It’s Too Late to Stop Now, one of the most essential live albums of all time, recently released in a gloriously extended version. “We were sad to see it end,” says Platania. “But in those days, he would say stuff like, ‘The show doesn’t have to go on.'” D.B.

Patti Smith Group and Television at CBGB

Patti Smith CBGB 1975

Over a two-month-long residency, the Patti Smith Group went from art project to formidable band – and lower Manhattan’s CBGB was well on the road to becoming one of the most famous rock clubs in the world. Much of the material that ended up on Smith’s debut, Horses, came to life at CB’s, with Smith improvising poetic chants as the band brutalized simple chord patterns. “CBGB was the ideal place to sound a clarion call,” Smith wrote. Television, meanwhile, had just begun emphasizing the guitar-weaving tapestries they would immortalize on Marquee Moon . Rock history was being made at a club with no dressing rooms and an incontinent dog in residence – and the musicians knew it. “I remember one night standing outside CBGB, in the doorway of the derelict hotel next door, smoking a joint,” says Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, “and realizing that this was the kind of gathering of psychic energies I’d always dreamed of when, say, I would read about the San Francisco scene in 1966.” W.H.

Bob Marley at the Lyceum Theatre, London

Bob Marley at the Lyceum Theatre, London

Bob Marley’s two concerts at the Lyceum Theatre in London in July 1975 were more than just musically transcendent shows: They were the triumphant peak of Marley’s first proper tour as a solo artist and would elevate him from cult act to international icon – in part thanks to Live! , a concert document from the shows that gave him his first international Top 40 hit, “No Woman, No Cry.”

“Lyceum was magic,” recalls Marley’s friend Neville Garrick, the Wailers’ lighting designer and art director at the time. “It was an old theater, so the acoustics were proper. … They took out all the seats, and people were going from the very first song.” Booked in a small room to drive up ticket demand, the Lyceum shows sold out in a day, and roughly 3,000 ticketless hopefuls mobbed the streets outside the venue on Marley’s first night there, along with a phalanx of cops. Some fans nevertheless managed to tear the fire doors off their hinges and rush in, packing the room tighter still, shoulder to shoulder. It was so hot, condensation was dripping from the ceiling, and roof hatches had to be opened to let air in. Marley appeared before the crowd like a prophet in a denim work shirt, dreadlocks bobbing, and few moments in pop are as spine-tingling as the opening of “No Woman, No Cry,” the audience chanting the chorus like a hymn before Marley had even sung a word. Recalled bassist Aston Barrett, “Everyone onstage [got] high from the feedback of the people.” W.H.

Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue North American Tour

Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue North American Tour

Bob Dylan could have played arenas when he toured to support 1976’s Desire . Instead, true to form, he did the unexpected: He booked tiny theaters with just days’ notice, charged less than $9 per ticket and took along a gaggle of friends – including Roger McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Joan Baez. Dylan had started hanging around his old West Village haunts with buddies from his folkie days, and he wanted to take that nostalgic spirit on the road. “We all sing and sing and sing and laugh until we pass out,” Baez told Rolling Stone . “For us, it makes no difference if we just play for 15 people or 15,000.” Backed by one of his best bands ever (including guitarist Mick Ronson), Dylan stretched out shows for as long as five hours – with help from McGuinn, Elliott and others, who would do their own sets and join his. New tracks from Desire were mixed with 1960s classics (“It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Just Like a Woman”) and covers (“Deportees”). The shows were full of raw, spontaneous intimacy: Dylan duetted with his ex-lover Baez, did scorched-earth versions of “Idiot Wind,” and pleaded for the release of jailed boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. As Rolling Thunder participant Allen Ginsberg said, “Having gone through his changes … Bob now has his powers together.” A.G.

Grateful Dead North American Tour

Grateful Dead North American Tour

“Our second coming,” says Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart of the band’s 1977 North American tour. Everyone knew the Dead could jam out infinitely. But that year they were discovering something new: that tight, songful concision could transport a crowd just as easily. “We had a lot of new songs and wanted to get at ’em,” says singer and guitarist Bob Weir. “And the only way to get at the next song was to finish the one you were doing.” Ironically for a band that had little use or patience for studios, it would be recording sessions that strengthened its live approach. Terrapin Station , the group’s most recent LP, was recorded with Fleetwood Mac producer Keith Olsen, who’d helmed their self-titled 1975 breakthrough; he forced the Dead to prep and rehearse more than they ever had. “Going in with Keith and having him organize and arrange all this stuff,” says Weir, “that gave us a solidity.” The results of Olsen’s whip-cracking became clear as soon as the Dead went back on the road — they tore into old favorites like “St. Stephen” and tried new combinations, like going from the fast-paced “Scarlet Begonias” into the churning “Fire on the Mountain,” and proved their newly honed chops could help sculpt jams such as the 10-minute “Terrapin Station.”

“We felt like rock gods,” Weir says. It helped that the band was in relatively good shape physically as well. “Jerry was healthy,” says Hart. “That was a big thing.” The high point took place on May 8th at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, regarded by Deadheads as the band’s greatest show ever. In the end, the 1977 tour completely changed the Dead’s sense of connection with fans, and their own musical purpose. “That was an era where it started to creep up on us that people came to hear the songs,” says Weir. “It finally dawned on us: ‘Oh, that’s what it’s all about.'” D.B.

The Ramones European Tour

The Ramones European Tour

The Ramones arrived in England with something to prove. The punk revolution had broken out in London in 1977, with the Sex Pistols getting wall-to-wall press and causing havoc. But no one in the nascent U.K. punk scene was ready for the precision-strike arrival of the Ramones. In his memoir, Johnny Ramone wrote that at a Pistols show on their first night in town in December ’77, “Johnny Rotten asked me what I thought of them, and I told him … they stunk.”

Three days later, the Ramones unleashed a furious assault on the audience in Glasgow, opening with “Rockaway Beach” and not taking a break until 26 songs later. Playing to a punk-crazed English audience pushed the Ramones to play their most intense shows. The tour wrapped on New Year’s Eve at the Rainbow Theatre, their 148th show of the year. “Probably the best show the Ramones ever did,” said Johnny. Amazingly, Joey had been singing through incredible pain; he’d suffered third-degree burns on his neck when a makeshift humidifier exploded on him. Said Ramones co-manager Linda Stein, “[Johnny] came to me and said … ‘Put me in a wheelchair and get me on a plane before I go insane.'” He wanted to be sedated. A.G.

The Eagles U.S. Tour

The Eagles U.S. Tour

The career-defining two-year stretch of shows that followed 1976’s Hotel California saw the Eagles become a stadium band. Yet in an era in which rock shows were growing bigger and more impersonal, the Eagles’ studio perfectionists, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, found a way to recreate the feel and detail of their albums onstage, with every harmony and guitar lick seamlessly in place decades before backing tapes and Auto-Tune made that process easier. Hits like “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Take It to the Limit” were given almost impossibly pristine treatment. The tour itself was chaotic; at one point, bassist Randy Meisner and Frey got into a fistfight when Frey called Meisner a “pussy.” But you wouldn’t have known it watching their sets. “Some critic said we used to go out onstage and loiter,” Henley said. “I think we accomplished a great deal.” D.B.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band American Tour

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band American Tour

It had been three very long years since Born to Run made Bruce Springsteen a national star. A bitter lawsuit filed against his former manager in 1976 left him legally unable to enter a studio for two years before making Darkness on the Edge of Town . “Prove It All Night,” his new single, stalled at Number 33 on the charts. Anything radio-friendly, like “Fire” and “Because the Night,” was held off Darkness to maintain the starker atmosphere Springsteen wanted for his set of songs about the reality of everyday working life. To many, all of this was evidence that Springsteen was in decline. So he did the thing he could do better than almost anyone alive: He went on tour. “With the burden of proving I wasn’t a has-been at 28,” he wrote in his 2016 memoir, Born to Run, “I headed out on the road performing long, sweat-drenched rock shows featuring the new album.”

Springsteen and the E Street Band played 115 shows across North America, the longest series of dates they would ever play in a single year. Even the soundchecks were grueling. “Literally, we would play ‘Thunder Road’ for a half-hour and Bruce would walk around and sit in every section and make sure the sound was as good as possible,” says drummer Max Weinberg. “Look, Bruce took his fun very seriously.” Not everyone thought it was so much fun. “I thought it was a little self-indulgent and a little bit silly,” says bassist Garry Tallent. “We would do four-hour sound-checks and then a three-and-a-half-hour show. We were younger then.”

Sets featured the majority of the new album, a big chunk of Born to Run and favorites off the first two discs, like “Spirit in the Night” and “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight).” After so much time off, the band played with a stunning mix of pent-up energy and technical precision. “Anyone can be great on any given night,” says Weinberg. “To really be great every night takes a lot of willpower, a lot of dedication, a lot of self-confidence, a lot of respect for your audience – tremendous respect for the audience.”

Live, the songs completely transformed from their recorded versions. For “Prove It All Night,” the band added a piano and guitar intro that built to a furious climax, and “Backstreets” developed an emotional spoken-word interlude about lost love that eventually morphed into “Drive All Night,” from The River. “Even at that point, the whole thing was ‘You have to see them live – you can’t go by the record,'” says Tallent.

As the tour crisscrossed the nation, with five shows getting broadcast on the radio and quickly hitting the bootleg market, a new respect for the album took hold. “Night after night, we sent our listeners away, back to the recorded versions of this music,” Springsteen wrote in Born to Run, “newly able to hear their beauty and restrained power.”

One particularly great show took place at the tiny Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. Opening with a ferocious cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and wrapping up three hours later with a wild “Twist and Shout,” it became one of the most coveted bootlegs in rock history. “It was really hot,” says Weinberg. “Just sweltering. It was incredibly exciting. Then you just get on the bus and go to the next gig. It was like that about five nights a week with two days off.”

Word of Springsteen’s glorious return prompted CBS Records to mount a huge billboard of his image on the Sunset Strip, advertising the album and tour but making no mention of the band. “It was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” Springsteen told a radio DJ. One night, Springsteen snuck up to the roof of a nearby building with Tallent and saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Armed with cans of black spray paint, Springsteen hoisted himself onto Clemons’ massive shoulders and wrote “Prove It All Night E Street” across the entire thing. “We didn’t deface it,” says Tallent with a laugh. “We corrected it. That was our way of letting people know to not expect the next coming of Christ. It’s just a rock & roll show.”

Darkness on the Edge of Town still wasn’t a commercial hit by the end of the run, but critics across the country hailed the tour as the best of the year, and the album remained at the core of Springsteen’s set list for decades to come. “[They] are perhaps the purest distillation of what I wanted my rock & roll music to be about,” Springsteen wrote. “[On the last stand of the tour] an exploding firecracker tossed by an inebriated ‘fan’ opened up a small slash underneath my eye. A little blood’d been drawn, but we were back.” A.G.

The Clash North American Tour

The Clash North American Tour

They called it the Pearl Harbour Tour, and they opened each night with a slashing version of “I’m So Bored With the USA.” For an English punk band trying to break through in the States, it was an interesting marketing approach. “England’s becoming claustrophobic for us,” Joe Strummer told Rolling Stone . “I think touring America could be a new lease on life.” With a touring budget of just $30,000 from their record label (most of which they gave to opening act Bo Diddley), the Clash stormed the heartland and made converts wherever they went. During downtime on their tour bus, they watched a VHS copy of Star Wars over and over. They hit the Palladium in New York in February, blowing away a crowd that included Andy Warhol and Bruce Springsteen. “Every country has one thing in common, which is they all listen to shit music,” said co-leader Mick Jones. “We’re here to alleviate that.” A.G.

Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ Tour

Pink Floyd 'The Wall' Tour

Pink Floyd’s 1979 rock opera, The Wall, was their most ambitious album to date, and when they took it on the road the next year they knew a traditional stage show would simply not do it justice. Pushing the limits of concert technology, they built an actual wall during the first half of every show, then played the bulk of the second half behind it, obscured from the audience. “Not much spontaneity,” said drummer Nick Mason, “but we’re not known for our duck-walking and gyrating around onstage.”

The logistics were so daunting that they staged it only 31 times across 16 months, hitting just four cities: Los Angeles; London; Dortmund, Germany; and Uniondale, New York. The most dramatic moment of the show happened near the end, when the wall came tumbling down. “The first couple of bricks would terrify people in the front rows,” said guitarist David Gilmour. “The audience would think they were going to be killed.” A.G.

Talking Heads ‘Speaking in Tongues’ Tour

Talking Heads 'Speaking in Tongues' Tour

It was an image that defined Talking Heads for a generation of music fans – skinny, nervous David Byrne on the Speaking in Tongues tour, struggling to dance in a cartoonishly huge white suit. “What I realized years before,” Byrne says, “is I had to find my own way of moving that wasn’t a white rock guy trying to imitate black people, or bring some other kind of received visual or choreographic language into pop music … I just thought, ‘No, no, you have to invent it from scratch.'”

Since forming in the mid-Seventies, Talking Heads had gone from CBGB New Wavers to one of the biggest bands in America. For the tour to support 1983’s Speaking in Tongues, their most popular album to date, they reinvented themselves, growing from a quartet to a nine-piece funk mob that included P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, Brothers Johnson guitarist Alex Weir and vocalist Lynn Mabry. Byrne also took cues from the experimental visual-art world, projecting abstract slides onto a spare backdrop, creating a stark aesthetic to match the band’s driving, uncluttered funk. The suit was inspired in part by Japanese Noh theater.

What emerged was arty dance-party transcendence. Byrne and drummer Chris Frantz recall the two-night run at New York’s Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in August as a highlight. “Madonna had just released her first record; she was walking around barefoot,” Frantz says. “I saw Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall off to the side of the stage – she was dancing, Mick wasn’t.” The Greek Theater in Berkeley the following month was a similar bacchanal. “We’d begun to get the Deadhead crowd,” Frantz says, laughing.

In late 1983, the band decided to document the tour with a concert film, and teamed up with director Jonathan Demme (who would later win an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs ). “We didn’t want any of the bullshit,” says Frantz of the band’s initial idea for Stop Making Sense. “We didn’t want the clichés. We didn’t want close-ups of people’s fingers while they’re doing a guitar solo. We wanted the camera to linger, so you could get to know the musicians a little bit.”

Shot over three nights at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, Stop Making Sense may be the greatest concert movie. It begins with Byrne walking onto a deserted stage with a boombox, setting it down, pressing “play,” then reimagining “Psycho Killer” for acoustic guitar and 808 drum-machine beats. His bandmates and backing musicians join him incrementally, song by song. “It’s cut down,” Byrne notes, comparing the film to the two-hour shows, “but there were no other substantial changes.”

The effect was so real, people actually got up and danced in movie theaters. “I’d never seen that before,” Frantz says. “Or since.” W.H.

Fela Kuti at Glastonbury

Fela Kuti at Glastonbury

If anyone at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival didn’t already know Fela Kuti, they soon learned why he was one of the planet’s most electric artists. Before his biggest international crowd to date, Fela played big-band Afrobeat that owed as much to James Brown’s funk as to the high life of his native Nigeria. Fela managed just two songs in two hours – but the grooves were so intoxicating, no one minded. “The love the audience gave was fantastic,” recalls son Femi Kuti, who backed him on sax that day. He left a legend in his wake. W.H.

Prince ‘Purple Rain’ Tour

Prince 'Purple Rain' Tour

On each night of the Purple Rain tour, Prince and the Revolution huddled backstage for a prayer. “It was a meaningful ritual,” says bassist Mark Brown. “The crowds were so loud, and it was so crazy, that we needed each other because that was the only thing you had: each other for support.” With Prince’s movie Purple Rain  catapulting the singer toward megastardom, the 98 shows he did in support of the soundtrack album were like Broadway productions. Prince began the show ascending from beneath the stage on a hydraulic lift, and went through five costume changes. “He had all these visual cues,” recalls keyboardist Lisa Coleman. “He’d throw a hankie into the air, and when the hankie hit the ground, that’s when we would stop.” At the Los Angeles Forum, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna joined Prince for the encore, which included a nearly half-hour-long version of “Purple Rain.” “He wanted to tower over everybody,” says keyboardist Matt Fink. “He was the Muhammad Ali of rock.” D.B.

Run-DMC ‘Raising Hell’ Tour

Run-DMC

“There was no concept of charts and no concept of airplay,” says LL Cool J, describing the landscape for Run-DMC’s 1986 tour, which featured LL, the Beastie Boys, Whodini and others as openers. That underground status changed two months into the tour, when Run-DMC had a breakout MTV hit with their Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way,” from their Raising Hell album. “Motherfuckers in the front row started looking like the Ramones and Cyndi Lauper,” says DMC of the new white fans who came to check out their shows. “We got a bunch of Madonnas asking for autographs.” DMC also noticed that cross-cultural appeal working the other way as a predominantly black audience embraced the tour’s beer-spraying opening act, the Beastie Boys, then months away from releasing their debut LP, Licensed to Ill. “The Beasties were crazy,” recalls rapper Ecstasy of Whodini. “They created an illusion that they were happy-go-lucky and careless, but they were on top of their shit. They were the white Run-DMC.” Competition among the artists was fierce. “I wanted to chain-saw the audience,” says LL Cool J, who was 18 years old at the time. Toward the end of the tour, a riot at a show in Long Beach, California, provided fuel for negative media coverage. But Raising Hell’ s positive legacy is undeniable. As DMC says today, “When Obama first got elected, all my white friends said, ‘That’s because of what Run-DMC did.'” C.R.W.

Metallica Damaged Justice Tour

Metallica Damaged Justice Tour

In 1988, Metallica released their pivotal album … And Justice for All and went from thrash-metal renegades to mainstream stars. But when their manager suggested an arena tour to support the LP, the band wasn’t convinced. “I was like, ‘Seriously?'” drummer Lars Ulrich recalls. “We knew we could do L.A., New York, San Francisco, but the American heartland didn’t seem like a great idea. No band as extreme as ours had ever done a full arena tour. So we used Indianapolis as a yardstick. If we were cool there, we were cool almost anywhere. When the tickets went on sale in Indianapolis, we ended up doing 13,000 or 14,000, which in 1988 was an insane victory.”

On the Damaged Justice Tour, Metallica learned just how many authenticity-starved headbangers were really out there. The band got the first taste of its transformative power in the summer of 1988 when it was booked onto the Monsters of Rock Tour, opening for Van Halen and Scorpions. At the L.A. Coliseum, fans responded to Metallica’s set by flinging their folding chairs at the stage to create a football-field-size mosh pit. “It was bonkers,” says bassist Jason Newsted, who had recently joined the band, replacing the late Cliff Burton. “For a kid coming off a farm and jumping into my favorite band, it was very dreamy. I didn’t sleep. Every day was another dream coming true.” He also got a lesson in how to conduct himself on the road. “I’d walk on the crew bus of a big band and there’s a pile of blow on the table in the front lounge,” Newsted recalls. “I look over there at my heroes, all red and swollen, and I’m like, ‘Guess what I’m not gonna do? That!'” The kickoff of the Damaged Justice Tour coincided with the success of Metallica’s anti-war-themed video for their new single, “One,” which quickly became an MTV hit. At the peak of bloated hair metal, Metallica were playing jagged seven-to-nine-minute-long thrash odysseys. But the crowds at their shows kept growing. “The kids know that at the end of the day there’s something very real and honest about what we do,” Ulrich told Rolling Stone in 1989. “You can’t take that away from us.”  K.G.

Madonna Blond Ambition Tour

Madonna Blond Ambition Tour

As Madonna’s career was taking off in the mid-Eighties, most of her tours were relatively straightforward affairs, based around her singing and dancing. But for the stadium blowouts that supported her 1989 classic, Like a Prayer, she wanted to up her game. In the process, she reinvented the pop megatour itself. “I really put a lot of myself into it,” she said. “It’s much more theatrical than anything I’ve ever done.” That year, Madonna had caused a nationwide controversy with the video for “Like a Prayer,” which daringly mixed sexual and religious imagery. Blond Ambition extended that provocation and upped the spectacle.

The show opened with Madonna climbing down a staircase into a factory world inspired by German expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang. She sang in a giant cathedral for “Like a Prayer” and under a beauty-shop hair dryer in “Material Girl.” And, most infamously, she simulated masturbation while wearing a cone-shaped bustier on a crimson bed during “Like a Virgin.” “The Blond Ambition Tour was what really catapulted her into the stratosphere,” says Vincent Paterson, the tour’s co-director and choreographer.

Madonna took a hands-on approach to the show, working with her brother, painter Christopher Ciccone, to design sets, and creating the costumes with fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. “I tried to make the show accommodate my own short attention span,” she said. “We put the songs together so there was an emotional arc in the show. I basically thought of vignettes for every song.”

Starting out in Japan in April 1990 and hitting the U.S. the following month, the tour grossed almost $63 million. But it didn’t go off without any complications: Madonna had to ditch the blond-ponytail hair extensions she wore early in the tour because they kept getting caught in her headset microphone. And in Toronto, the masturbation sequence almost got her and her dancers arrested in what became a bonding moment for her entire crew.

Madonna’s close relationship with her collaborators would be a major theme in the blockbuster 1991 tour documentary Truth or Dare, especially in memorable scenes where she invited her backup dancers into her bed. Today, Blond Ambition’s over-the-top intimacy is a staple of live pop music, from Lady Gaga to Miley Cyrus. In 1990, it was a revolution. “It was a kind of turning point,” says Darryl Jones, who played bass on the tour. “A lot of young girls were watching.” Steve Knopper

Public Enemy Sizzling Summer Tour

Public Enemy Sizzling Summer Tour

For the tour to support their groundbreaking LP Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy wanted a show to match their music’s combative assault. “OK, if we’re gonna fill a stage, everything’s gotta be moving,” leader Chuck D recalls of the band’s approach. They’d built their live rep on short, explosive sets. Now they packed an hour with Chuck as bullhorn MC and Flava Flav as his firecracker comic foil, leaping across the stage and diving into the crowd. In Houston, Ice Cube joined them to perform his guest verse on “Burn Hollywood Burn,” a song that became each night’s incendiary high point. “We didn’t need to use pyro,” says Chuck. “When I see acts use pyro, I’m like, ‘What lazy fucks.'” C.R.W.

Sonic Youth and Nirvana European Tour

Sonic Youth and Nirvana European Tour

In the summer before they released Nevermind,  Nirvana were still a largely unknown band. They booked a series of European festival dates, opening for their friends Sonic Youth — and witnessed for the first time their power to convert and ignite huge crowds. “It was passionate. It was reckless,” says Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who also astounded audiences with their New York noise-rock. “[Nirvana] were going on at 2:00 in the afternoon, playing a 20-minute set. But there was this massive amount of pogo’ing going on.” With drummer Dave Grohl on tour with the band for the first time, and the new Nevermind material, Nirvana were received almost like headliners. Kurt Cobain biographer Charles Cross called it Cobain’s “happiest time as a musician.” Recalls Grohl, “Everything was still very innocent.” A documentary of the tour, 1991: The Year Punk Broke, captured Cobain spraying champagne all over a dressing room and Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic gleefully tearing through a backstage cheese plate. The high point for Moore was in Brussels, where security tried to stop Nirvana’s nightly ritual of smashing their gear, and Novoselic had to be pulled down as he tried to climb up the closing stage curtains. “It was,” says Moore, “the most perverse, deconstructed, psychedelic freakout concert I’ve ever seen.” J.D.

U2 Zoo TV Tour

U2 Zoo TV Tour

For its first tour of the Nineties, the biggest rock band in the world had one simple goal: to completely reinvent itself as a live act. U2 had just given their sound a full-scale makeover with 1991’s Achtung Baby – a groundbreaking fusion of rock, pop, electronic dance grooves and krautrock – and they needed a tour that reflected their sleek, challenging new music. “We were drawn to anything that was going to give us a chance to get away from the Joshua Tree earnestness,” said the Edge, “which had become so stifling.”

The notion of U2 as the inheritors of rock’s social mission had been central to their Eighties stardom. But as the band was well aware, it was increasingly out of step with an era defined by groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, who cast a skeptical eye at sweeping Joshua Tree– style rock heroism. For the Achtung Baby tour, U2 were ready to loosen up and throw a dance party, albeit a subversive one, packed with multimedia images that were a clear break from the stark purity of their Eighties stage sets. “The tour was being conceived at the same time as the album,” Bono recalled in 2005. “Zoo radio was a phenomenon before reality TV, with so-called shock jocks such as Howard Stern. It was aggressive, raw radio, the precursor to The Jerry Springer Show. The world was getting tired of fiction. … We wanted to make a tour that referenced this zoo/reality phenomenon.”

Extensive cable news coverage was a fact of life by the early Nineties; during the Gulf War, images of Scud missiles raining down on Iraq became dinnertime entertainment. U2 essentially turned the Zoo TV set into a postmodern art installation that reflected the numbing cacophony of the cable-TV era, playing in front of a mosaic of TV screens that mashed up war footage with old sitcoms, cooking shows and everything in between.

Bono, meanwhile, came up with a new, sly persona to match the new stage set. He donned an Elvis-style leather jacket, wraparound sunglasses and leather pants that evoked Jim Morrison. He took this rock star amalgamation and created a character called the Fly. “When I put on those glasses, anything goes,” Bono told Rolling Stone . “The character is just on the edge of lunacy. It’s megalomania and paranoia.”

Zoo TV opened in Florida on February 29th, 1992. If the staging and Bono’s wild get-up weren’t enough indications this was a new U2, the band kicked things off with eight consecutive songs from Achtung Baby. “People went for it,” Bono said to Rolling Stone later that year. “The first show, you just didn’t know. ‘How is this going to go down?’ And they went for it. I think our audiences are smart and that they expect us to push and pull them a bit. They had to swallow blues on Rattle and Hum, for God’s sake! They can take it.”

The tour’s first leg coincided with the 1992 presidential race, and every night from the stage Bono called the White House and asked to speak with President Bush. “Operator Two and I had a great relationship,” Bono said. “She tried not to show it, but I could tell she was very amused, as we rang her night after night.”

Bush never took the call, but a young Arkansas governor was all too happy to talk to the band. U2 met with Bill Clinton in Chicago in September 1992 during the tour and forged what became an enduring relationship. The sitting president was unmoved. “I have nothing against U2,” Bush told a crowd in Bowling Green, Ohio, that month. “You may not know this, but they tried to call me at the White House every night during their concert. But the next time we face a foreign-policy crisis, I will work with John Major and Boris Yeltsin, and Bill Clinton can consult with Boy George.”

For opening acts, U2 chose artists who enhanced the idea of the band as a gathering point for pop music in an increasingly fragmented era – from Public Enemy to the Ramones, Velvet Underground and Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder was initially skeptical about the scale of Zoo TV, but he came around. “[I eventually] understood that these weren’t decisions they were making out of fashion or simply being clever,” Vedder said. “It was like an edict they’d created as a new philosophy for the group, to really explore the avenues of connecting to people on a large level.”

During a break in early 1993, U2 recorded Zooropa, which took the experiments of Achtung Baby further. When the tour resumed, Bono devised a new character: MacPhisto, a devilish figure with white face paint and horns. “The character was a great device for saying the opposite of what you meant,” said the Edge. “One highlight was calling the minister of fisheries in Norway, young Jan Henri Olsen, to congratulate him on whaling, which was forbidden by the European Union but legal in Norway. He actually took the call and invited Bono to come and have a whale steak with him.”

Those phone calls became a major part of each performance – some nights Bono ordered pizzas for the crowd; on another he rang Madonna on her cellphone (she didn’t pick up). As venues got bigger, U2 kept things intimate by adding a miniset to the show, playing on a tiny stage.

The wall-to-wall video screens also set the scene for every pop spectacle that followed, from Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball to Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour. “Zoo TV wasn’t a set piece, it was a state of mind,” said the Edge. For Bono, the experience was life-changing: “I’ve had to stop ‘not drinking.’ I’ve had to smoke incessantly. I’ve learned to be insincere. I’ve learned to lie. I’ve never felt better!” A.G.

Radiohead at Glastonbury

Radiohead Glastonbury 1997

The scene Radiohead encountered at 1997’s Glastonbury Festival looked more like a war zone than a concert. It had been pouring rain for days, forcing the 90,000 fans at the remote field in Somerset, England, to live like refugees in a monsoon. Two stages sank into the mud, and some fans actually came down with the World War I–era malady trench foot. Early in Radiohead’s set, Thom Yorke’s monitor melted down. The lighting rig was shining directly into his face, meaning he couldn’t see in addition to being unable to hear himself play. “If I’d found the guy who was running the PA system that day,” Yorke told a journalist , “I would have gone backstage and throttled him. Everything was going wrong. Everything blew up.”

Weeks after releasing their career-defining album, OK Computer , it looked like Radiohead might flop during a headlining set at the world’s biggest music festival. Instead, the chaos inspired one of the band’s greatest performances. Rage poured through Yorke all night long, giving extra fire to eight songs from  OK Computer, plus nearly all of The Bends —  and even a crowd-pleasing version of their first hit, “Creep.” It was a transcendent performance, even if Yorke didn’t realize it at the time. “I thundered offstage at the end, really ready to kill,” he said. “And my girlfriend grabbed me, made me stop, and said, ‘Listen!’ And the crowd were just going wild. It was amazing.” In 2006, Q magazine voted it the greatest concert in British history. A.G.

Sleater-Kinney American Tour

Sleater-Kinney American Tour

In early 1997, the most exciting new band in rock was a trio of young women driving their own van across the country, with only their friend Tim along as a roadie. “We’d get to the club,” recalls Sleater-Kinney singer-guitarist Corin Tucker, “and the sound man would be like, ‘Wait. You’re the band? You? You girls?'” But playing songs from its album Dig Me Out, the group bulldozed the staid indie-rock scene with unbridled punk-rock exuberance. “In Atlanta, 10 women got onstage and took their shirts off and danced with us,” says co-leader Carrie Brownstein. “I don’t know if they’d ever felt that freedom before, and I was really proud to provide the soundtrack for that.” J.D.

Pearl Jam American Tour

Pearl Jam American Tour

By the mid-Nineties, Pearl Jam were in serious danger of imploding, thanks to intraband tensions and a self-defeating war against Ticketmaster that had left them almost unable to tour. But they started over with 1998’s aptly named Yield, their most collaborative album yet, and when they hit the road with a new drummer, Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron, the shows fulfilled their promise as one of rock’s all-time great live acts. New tracks (“Given to Fly,” “Do the Evolution”) were instant crowd favorites, and classics like “Alive” sounded bigger than ever. “We’re making up for lost time here,” Eddie Vedder told the crowd one night. “Thanks for waiting.” A.G. 

Phish at Big Cypress

Phish Big Cypress

For Phish’s Trey Anastasio, this colossal one-band festival, at a South Florida Native American reservation, was “the culmination” of the band’s first run. “Eighty thousand people came from all over,” he said, “and virtually nothing went wrong.” The fest’s final set began around midnight, and went on for more than seven hours, displaying every side of peak Phish, a singular mix of in-joke quirks and ESP-level improv. Toward the end came an unforgettable take on the “Sunrise” section of “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” played as the sun actually rose. “I will never listen to that tape because I know what a letdown it would be compared to what it was actually like,” Anastasio said. “When that sun came up, and the sky was blazing pink, it was an indescribable moment.”  W.H.

Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall

Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall

For decades, Brian Wilson avoided even talking about Smile , the psychedelic follow-up to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds he shelved under the stresses of drug abuse and psychiatric problems. At a 2002 Pet Sounds show in London, though, someone said to the promoter, “How can we possibly top this?” The idea of a Smile tour came up. “We all kind of chuckled,” says Wilson keyboardist Darian Sahanaja. But 20 months later, after poring over the old Smile tapes, Wilson walked onstage and finally delivered on his decades-old promise of a “teenage symphony to God,” bringing rock’s most famous unheard album back to life. From the first celestial harmonies of “Our Prayer” much of the audience was in tears. Backstage afterward, Wilson was exultant, shouting, “I did it!”  A.G.

Daft Punk Alive Tour

Daft Punk Alive Tour

In the early aughts, electronic-dance live “performances” were rarely more than one or two dudes nodding their heads around laptops. All that changed at Coachella on April 29th, 2006, when Daft Punk unveiled their genre’s most dazzling musical spectacle. In the overheated, overcrowded darkness of the festival’s Sahara Tent, two helmeted, robot-like figures – Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – stood inside a 24-foot aluminum pyramid covered in high-intensity LED panels and performed their catalog as a megamix to nearly 40,000 fans. “It was the most synced-up we ever felt,” Bangalter said. What might have been a legendary one-off became a 2007 tour that blew minds across Europe, the U.S., Japan and Australia, inspiring the likes of Skrillex and untold others . W.H.

Leonard Cohen Worldwide Tour

Leonard Cohen Worldwide Tour

It started as a financial rescue mission. After Leonard Cohen learned, at age 70, that his manager/sometime-lover had absconded with most of his life savings, he realized that his only chance of replenishing his funds was to go on tour. Cohen wasn’t sure how many fans he had left, so he first agreed only to a test run of theater dates in far-flung Canadian towns.

Though he’d never
 much enjoyed touring,
 Cohen was a unique
ly charismatic live performer. Even those first shows stretched past the two-hour mark, mixing elegant rearrangements of 1960s classics like “Suzanne” and “Bird on the Wire” with more recent tunes like “Waiting for the Miracle” and “Boogie Street.” His voice had deepened considerably, but that only gave it more authority and character. “It’s like he was whispering into your ear,” says longtime backup singer Sharon Robinson.

The shows were spectacular, and word-of-mouth spread quickly. By 2009, Cohen was selling out arenas all over Europe, and eventually he hit 20,000-seaters in America, including Madison Square Garden. The tour eventually ran for 387 shows across five years. Even as he neared his 80th birthday, he kept adding new songs and stretching the running time to three and a half hours, even skipping offstage before the encores. “Leonard was really good at conserving his strength and blocking out distractions and prioritizing his energy,” says Robinson. “He lived an almost monastic lifestyle even though he wasn’t a real monk.”

By the time he played his final show, in Auckland, New Zealand, Cohen had gone from cult favorite to cross-generational icon. After he closed that performance with a sprightly “Save the Last Dance for Me,” he doffed his hat, took a deep bow and walked off the stage, smiling. “I want to thank you,” he said to the audience. “Not just for tonight, but for all the years you’ve paid attention to my songs.” A.G.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert

The idea was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with no less than the most important multi-artist concert in history. “I knew the anniversary had potency,” said Hall of Fame Foundation chairman (and Rolling Stone founder) Jann Wenner. “I thought that we had earned the right and responsibility to do this thing. It was an opportunity not to be missed.”

The organizers were determined to put on a show that was far more ambitious than any of the previous megashows, while capturing the intimate, collaborative spirit of the annual induction ceremonies and telling the story of rock & roll. “[I kept saying], ‘If this is just miniconcerts of greatest hits, I’m bored,'” recalled co-producer Robbie Robertson. “‘What do we have to offer that you can’t get anywhere else?'”

The shows, held over two nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden, were a rock fan’s dream, with all the artists delivering blistering, unforgettable sets, no doubt inspired by the presence of so many of their peers and the event’s grandeur. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who closed the first night, performed at their absolute peak, turning themselves into a soul revue as they backed Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Tom Morello and Darlene Love. U2 brought Springsteen back the next night, but the biggest moment came near the end of their set, when they kicked into “Gimme Shelter,” and – out of nowhere – an unbilled Mick Jagger appeared onstage to the stunned delight of the crowd.

The first night began with a nod to rock’s origins: Jerry Lee Lewis pounding out “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Next were Crosby, Stills and Nash (joined by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor), Stevie Wonder (with guests Smokey Robinson, John Legend, B.B. King, Sting and Jeff Beck) and a note-perfect Simon and Garfunkel. On the closing night, Aretha Franklin sang with Annie Lennox and Lenny Kravitz; Jeff Beck jammed with Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons and Sting; and Metallica backed Ray Davies, Ozzy Osbourne and Lou Reed.

“For a lot of us here, rock & roll means just one word: liberation. Political, sexual, spiritual liberation,” Bono said onstage, before Springsteen interrupted him with the other side of the equation: “Let’s have some fun with it!” A.G.

LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden

LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden

“It’s your show,” LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy shouted to a sold-out Madison Square Garden. The raging farewell by Murphy’s beloved group was a Last Waltz for New York’s early-’00s dance-rock scene. “I thought it would be really sad,” recalls keyboardist-vocalist Nancy Whang. “But it was just fun. The energy in the room was really charged.” Fans danced to near-exhaustion as LCD played songs from their entire catalog. With barely two months to prepare the nearly four-hour spectacle, featuring a choir, a horn section and a rickety spaceship, the band tackled a production scale beyond its experience. “It was held together with gum and string,” Whang admits. The night (captured in the 2012 film Shut Up and Play the Hits ) ended in a snowstorm of balloons, culminating the band’s dream of throwing “the best funeral ever.” W.H.

Jay Z and Kanye West ‘Watch the Throne’ Tour

Jay Z & Kanye West 'Watch the Throne' Tour

“I’m sorry if this is your first concert,” Kanye West said to a Los Angeles crowd on the Watch the Throne tour. “It’s all downhill from here.” Supporting their triumphal 2011 LP, Watch the Throne, Jay Z and Kanye convened the greatest superstar summit in hip-hop history. The pair performed on giant, rising cubes that projected video, and, when the tour hit Paris, encored with their hit “Niggas in Paris” 12 times in a row. “People just wanted more,” says the tour’s lighting designer Nick Whitehouse. “It made people crazy.” C.R.W.

Fleetwood Mac ‘On With the Show’ Tour

Fleetwood Mac 'On With the Show' Tour

The return of Christine McVie after 16 years brought the Mac’s live show to a whole new dimension. Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar solo on “Go Your Own Way” soared to new heights; Stevie Nicks seemed possessed during the nightly exorcism of “Rhiannon”; and all three voices locked seamlessly on “Little Lies.” It was all the magic of 1977 without the distractions of hard drugs and sexual soap operas . A.G.

Taylor Swift ‘1989’ Tour

Taylor Swift '1989' Tour

“You’re not going to see me playing the banjo,” Taylor Swift warned Rolling Stone at the outset of her 1989 world tour. On her Speak Now and  Red tours, she claimed her turf at the crossroads of country, pop and classic arena rock. But for 1989, Swift made her bold move into full-on dance pop. She turned up the glitz with new material like “New Romantics” and “Blank Space” (“blatant pop music,” as she put it), but she didn’t compromise on her trademark emotional overshares, whether opening up in confessional interludes or torching up ballads (“Clean”). Swift aimed for a glammier look onstage, reflecting the grown-up flair of the music, and she invited high-profile guests: In Nashville, she duetted with Mick Jagger; in L.A., she brought out Beck, St. Vincent, Justin Timberlake, Chris Rock and Alanis Morissette. It all summed up her staggeringly ambitious vision of modern pop. Rob Sheffield

Beyoncé Formation Tour

Beyoncé Formation Tour

Strutting in stacked heels across the turf of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, wrapped in golden bandoleers and flanked by a Black Panther–styled phalanx of dancers, Beyoncé performed “Formation” at the 2016 Super Bowl in a cameo appearance even fiercer than her 2013 Super Bowl triumph. It was the overture to a tour that redefined stadium-scale concert staging. “She had an overall vision of what she wanted,” says Steve Pamon, chief operating officer of Beyoncé’s label, Parkwood Entertainment. “Not only in terms of a business, but in the type of experience we want to give the fans.”

Four days before the tour began, Beyoncé surprise-dropped her instant classic Lemonade. British set designer Es Devlin, who had previously worked with Kanye West and U2, created a kind of spectacular intimacy that fit the album’s personal themes. At midstage was the “Monolith,” a video-screen centerpiece standing seven stories high that projected the show in 70-foot magnification, making every seat feel front-row. On opening night in Miami, Bey burned through “Crazy in Love” and “Bootylicious” in a fire-engine-red latex bodysuit and matching boots, looking like an anime empress. The shows also dialed it down for slow jams like the breakup meditation “Mine,” during which the Monolith split in two to reveal dancers suspended on cables while Bey and a squadron in lace bodysuits rose up from beneath the stage. At the end of the show, a moving catwalk connected the main stage to a huge wading pool, where Beyoncé and her dancers splashed around in a baptismal moment that reflected Lemonade’ s journey from betrayal to rebirth.

The Formation World Tour began around the time of Prince’s death. In Minneapolis, she performed his classic “The Beautiful Ones” before a rapt crowd, honoring a hero and placing herself in his epic lineage. “I would put that tour up against any performance,” Pamon says. “By any artist at any age.” Brittany Spanos  

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Best of 2009: The Year In Charts & More

The biggest hits, the brightest stars, the most iconic moments -- join us as we salute the songs, albums and events that made 2009 one of the decade's most memorable years in music and roll out all of…

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best concert tours of 2009

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Best Concerts of 2009

Best Concerts

#1) Mayhem @ Station 4 By the time of the St. Paul date, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation and Withered had all pulled out of the tour due to backstage (thought to be financial) issues, and a delay in the visa process had prevented Marduk from performing at any of the Blackened Fest dates. Mayhem & Station 4 offered up refunds to those who weren’t down with seeing the band on its 25th Anniversary Tour, but those who stayed were treated to one of the sickest metal shows of the year. And although I still think the band sucks, Anal Blast’s opening performance would prove to be one of Don Decker’s last.

#2) Peelander-Z, Birthday Suits, Awesome Snakes & Fuck Knights @ Turf Club Not only did this night stand out as the first time I saw one of my local favorites, Fuck Knights, but it was the first (and thus far only) experience I’ve had with Peelander-Z. Wow. Just wow.

#3) Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ First Avenue Though visually stunning and musically sharp, the night’s performance was ultimately dominated by Karen O; she is the sun to which eyes have no choice but to gravitate toward.

#4) Moby @ Fine Line Music Cafe  While I’ve been a fan of Moby’s since my unfortunate Dance Mix phase as a youth, I hadn’t ever seen him live before. Toting an overwhelmingly powerful backup band, the Little Idiot took the packed house on a sentimental voyage through his entire catalog: from “Go” to “Honey” (which on this night was blended with a rendition of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”) to music from his most recent release Wait For Me. It was beautiful.

#5) Sonic Youth @ First Avenue The light show alone was enough to cause trauma, but it ended up being the music that left a lasting impression. Shying away from older material for the most of the set, the band played all but one song from its most recent release (2009’s The Eternal) and offered a vibrancy that puts younger bands to shame.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully .]

Published December 16, 2009 in Blog , Culture Bully / Explore more: # Lists # Live # Music # Twin Cities

# Lists # Live # Music # Twin Cities

The List: Best concerts of summer 2009

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Things To Do Music

Slayer, July 17

Slayer, July 17

Kings of Leon, Aug. 9

Kings of Leon, Aug. 9

Neko Case, May 29 & 30

Neko Case, May 29 & 30

Nine Inch Nails, May 26

Nine Inch Nails, May 26

Ben Kweller, June 12

Ben Kweller, June 12

Leonard Cohen, June 2

Leonard Cohen, June 2

Elvis Costello, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 18-21

Elvis Costello, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 18-21

best concert tours of 2009

üDenotes Ricardo Baca’s picks.

All tickets available via Ticketmaster unless otherwise noted.

mayüfleetwood mac,tonight, Pepsi Center, $45.50-$145.50

margot & the nuclear so and so’s,tonight, Hi-Dive, $10 (hi-dive.com)

mogwai/women,Tuesday, Bluebird Theater, $20.50

keane,Wednesday, Ogden Theatre, $35

üadrian orange/young coyotes,Wednesday, Rhinoceropolis, $5 (at the door)

gregory alan isakov,Friday, Fox Theatre, $10-$12.50 (foxtheatre.com)

üboba fett and the americans/jim mcturnan,Friday, Meadowlark, $5 (at the door)

üflight of the conchords/iron & wine, Saturday, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $34.50-$39.50

dane cook,May 17, Pepsi Center, $30-$100

fischerspooner, May 18, Ogden Theatre, $20

mike watt and the missingmen,May 18, Larimer Lounge, $15 (bigmarkstickets.com)

ücloud cult,May 19, Bluebird Theater, $13.50

scott h. biram,May 23, Larimer Lounge, $10 (bigmarkstickets.com)

peaches, May 25, Gothic Theatre, $20 (livenation.com)

the decemberists,May 26, Fillmore Auditorium, $25-$28 (livenation.com)

ünine inch nails/jane’s addiction,May 26, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $19-$99

no doubt/paramour,May 27, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $10-$80

üwovenhand,May 29, Swallow Hill Daniels Hall, $12-$14 (swallowhill.com)

lucero,May 29, Bluebird Theater, $15.50

üneko case, May 29, Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, $27-$42.50 (chautauqua.com); May 30, Ogden Theatre, $25

disco biscuits/paul oakenfold,May 30,Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $36.50

juneanimal collective,June 2, Boulder Theater, sold out (bouldertheater.com)

üleonard cohen,June 2, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $49.50-$250

lucinda williams,June 3, Denver Botanic Gardens, $50-$55 (botanicgardens.org); June 4, Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, $39.50-$55 (chautauqua.com)

übad weather california,June 6, Swallow Hill Tuft Theater, $10-$12 (swallowhill.com)

etta james,June 6, Boulder Theater, $68-$93.50

langhorne slim/samantha crain,June 7, Hi-Dive, $10 (hi-dive.com)

joe cocker,June 9, Denver Botanic Gardens, $70-$75 (botanicgardens.org)

üloretta lynn,June 10, Paramount Theatre, $34.50-$74.50 (tickethorse.com)

rise against/rancid, June 11, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $35 (livenation.com)

ümetric,June 11, Ogden Theatre, $20

üks-107.5 summerjam, June 12, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $24-$59

southern culture on the skids, June 12, Gothic Theatre, $16-$18 (livenation.com)

üben kweller,June 12, Bluebird Theater, $20

westword music showcase featuring built to spill, the fluid; June 13; Golden Triangle, $9.33 (westword.com)

lemonheads,June 16, Larimer Lounge, $20 (bigmarkstickets.com)

ütelluride bluegrass festival featuring elvis costello, david byrne, emmylou harris and others; June 18-21; Telluride Town Park, $60-$185 (bluegrass.com)

david byrne/devotchka,June 20, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $44-$69.50

eric clapton/steve winwood, June 21, Pepsi Center, $49.50-$150

b-52s,June 22, Denver Botanic Gardens, $72.50-$77.50 (botanicgardens.org)

jonas brothers, June 24, Pepsi Center, $23.50-$83.50

üphoenix,June 25, Bluebird Theater, $20

julyceltic woman,July 1-2, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $43-$110 (livenation.com)

üwilco, July 3, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $36.75-$39.50

vicente fernandez,July 10, Pepsi Center, $45-$125

übon iver,July 11, Ogden Theatre, $20.50

yes/asia,July 12, Paramount Theatre, $49.50-$95 (tickethorse.com)

üdeath cab for cutie /andrew bird,July 14, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $36.75-$40

keith urban/sugarland,July 15, Pepsi Center, $20-$75.50

new kids on the block, July 15, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $10-$79

slim cessna’s auto club, July 15, Larimer Lounge, $13 (bigmarkstickets.com)

joan baez, July 15, Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, $39.50-$55 (chautauqua.com); July 16, Denver Botanic Gardens, $47.50-$52.50 (botanicgardens.org)

üslayer,July 17, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $25-$69.50

ümile high music festival featuring tool, the fray, widespread panic and others;July 18-19; the fields surrounding Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; $90-$162.50 (tickethorse.com)

demi lovato,July 20, Wells Fargo Theatre, $39.50-$49.50

the wallflowers,July 21, Denver Botanic Gardens, $40-$45 (botanicgardens.org)

journey, July 21, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $49.75-$125

üthe ninth annual denver post underground music showcase featuring more than 200 bands; July 23-26; Hi-Dive, 3 Kings, Skylark Lounge and 20 other South Broadway venues; $15-$25 (theums.com)

ürockygrass festival featuring steve earle, hot rize, earl scruggs and others; July 24-26; Planet Bluegrass Ranch, Lyons, $50-$130 (bluegrass.com)

vetiver,July 28, Bluebird Theater, $12.50

rod stewart, July 30, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $29.50-$99.50

phish, July 30-Aug. 2, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, sold out

üsonic youth, July 31, Ogden Theatre, $25.50

augustaerosmith,Aug. 1, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $35-$175

motley crue,August 4, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $29.50-$95

warped tour featuring bad religion, nofx, less than jake and others; Aug. 9; parking lot at Invesco Field at Mile High, $33.50

ükings of leon,Aug. 9, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $46

üjudas priest, Aug. 11, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $44.50-$79.50 (livenation.com)

johnny winter,Aug. 11, Oriental Theatre, $20 (cervantes.com)

toots & the maytals,Aug. 11, Denver Botanic Gardens, $40-$45 (botanicgardens.org)

ürocky mountain folks festival featuring rufus wainwright, brett dennen, susan tedeschi and others;Aug. 14-16; Planet Bluegrass Ranch, Lyons, $45-$110 (bluegrass.com)

ügreen day, Aug. 15, Pepsi Center, $21-$45.50

üthe avett brothers,Aug. 19, Telluride Sunset Concert, free; Aug. 20, Steamboat Springs Free Summer, free; Aug. 21, Boulder Theater, $29.50; Aug. 22, Ogden Theatre, $27.25

toby keith,Aug. 21, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $25-$60

los lonely boys/los lobos,Aug. 23, Denver Botanic Gardens (botanicgardens.org)

def leppard/poison/cheap trick,Aug. 24, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $25-$125

poncho sanchez/lila downs, Aug. 24, Denver Botanic Gardens, $45-$50 (botanicgardens.org)

nickelback, Aug. 25, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, $29-$79

üjackson browne, Aug. 26, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $39.50-$75 (livenation.com)

üdepeche mode, Aug. 27, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $55-$89 (livenation.com)

yonder mountain string band,Aug. 28, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $36.75-$39.75

bonnie raitt/taj mahal, Aug. 30, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $39.75-$79.75

bob weir and ratdog,Aug. 31, Denver Botanic Gardens, $66-$71 (botanicgardens.org)

septemberüjazz aspen featuring the allman brothers band, michael franti, black eyed peas and others;Sept. 4-6; Snowmass Town Park; $45-$145 (jazzaspen.com)

little feat,Sept. 4, Paramount Theatre, $25-$35 (tickethorse.com)

darius rucker/pat green,Sept. 4, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $39.50

allman brothers band,Sept. 5, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $52.50-$59.50

üween,Sept. 6, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $44.95

üthe killers, Sept. 9, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, $42.50-$52.50

longs peak scottish-irish highlands festival,Sept. 10-13, Estes Park High School Grounds, $5-$58 (scotfest.us)

ümonolith festival, Sept. 12-13, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, prices TBA (monolithfestival.com)

telluride blues & brews festival,Sept. 18-20, Telluride Town Park, prices TBA (tellurideblues.com)

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Boulder’s best concerts of 2009 (VIDEO)

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Matisyahu performs at the University of Colorado on Feb. 4.

Matisyahu performs at the University of Colorado on Feb. 4.

Pretty Lights performs at the University of Colorado's New Student...

Pretty Lights performs at the University of Colorado's New Student Welcome Concert on Farrand Field on Aug. 22, 2009.

Author

The economy was in the deep freeze this year, but that didn’t stop Boulder’s concert venues from hosting an amazing number of great shows.

While Boulder had quite a few memorable concerts in 2009, here are this writer’s favorite shows of the year — and the reasons why they stood out from the pack:

1. Pretty Lights

University of Colorado’s Farrand Field, Aug. 22

Pretty Lights drew thousands of fans to CU’s annual New Student Welcome Concert, and this was one of the best shows of the year.

The electro act’s kaleidoscope of sounds was expertly fused with an amazing light show. The multi-sensory show turned the plain-Jane field into an amazing outdoor concert venue, and CU carried the show off with nary a hitch.

2. The Airborne Toxic Event

Boulder Theater, Sept. 24

The Airborne Toxic Event’s anthemic music roused the crowd from the first notes, and the emotive songs really resonated with the local audience at the Boulder Theater.

Plus, the band’s multi-level stage set-up, and the use of shadow and lighting, accentuated the show to perfection. This wasn’t a concert — it was an artistic event.

3. Blitzen Trapper and Dr. Dog

Fox Theatre, Oct. 20 and Oct. 11, respectively

In 2009, several up-and-coming groups fused jangly guitar sounds with modern edges. Blizten Trapper and Dr. Dog were the poster bands for the genre.

Last fall, both groups rocked the Fox and worked audiences into a frenzy. These bands blended the best of vintage and contemporary sounds, and they knew how to bring melodic harmonies to the forefront of their tunes.

That’s why both shows were packed to the brim with locals.

4. Matisyahu

CU’s Glenn Miller Ballroom, Feb. 4

It was advertised as a simple Q&A show, but Matisyahu’s appearance at CU’s Glenn Miller Ballroom turned into a full-blown concert.

Matisyahu answered a few questions, but most of the event was spent showing off tunes from the artist’s 2009 CD, Light.

Matisyahu artistically fused his reggae and rap rhymes into an acoustic evening of sounds, and his inspired lyrics left this college audience wanting more. Plus, locals really got a solid insight into what makes this artist tick.

5. Asher Roth and Common

Fox Theatre, March 18 and Feb. 19, respectively

The Fox Theatre built on its reputation for bringing in known rap artists and fostering the careers of newbies in 2009.

On Feb. 19, the Fox hosted a rare show with rapper Common that tore the house down. The rapper showed off his smooth rhymes and dazzled the audience with his showmanship.

6. Animal Collective

Boulder Theater, June 2 Boulder was getting electro-fied by the summer of 2009, so Animal Collective’s concert sold out in advance.

The electronic act showed off its artistic, hi-tech fusion at the Boulder Theater. However, one of the best parts of the evening came when Animal Collective performed as late night DJs at the theater’s adjacent pub, George’s.

7. Gene Ween and Bobby Long

b.side Lounge, May 10 and Nov. 17, respectively

The b.side Lounge will go out with a bang on Friday, but the club aced 2009 by bringing top-name talent into the intimate room.

Gene Ween played a special acoustic show at the b.side on May 10. The performer pulled out all the Ween hits, but played them in a more laid-back fashion.

“Twilight” music star Bobby Long made a rare appearance at the b.side on Nov. 17. The Brit’s spot-on performance and beautiful voice proved that his career will go far beyond vampire films.

8. FMQB Triple A Conference

Fox Theatre, Aug. 5-7

Every year, the Triple A radio conference hits Boulder and locals get to check out major acts at the Fox Theatre.

Gomez and Howie Day wowed locals with sneak-peaks of their new records at this summer’s Triple A bash.

9. Taking Back Sunday

Boulder Theater, May 26

If Boulder was lacking anything this year, it was not having enough kick-ass indie-rock shows.

Taking Back Sunday remedied that situation at the Boulder Theater. The rockers showed off new guitarist Matt Fazzi and a solid collection of new songs. This tour was powerhouse and it earned the band a summer tour with Weezer.

10. Homegrown music

Paper Bird, Everything Absent or Distorted, Gregory Alan Isakov, Flobots, 3OH!3 and “etown” all offered great Boulder shows in 2009.

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20 of the best concert films of all time

Posted: February 13, 2024 | Last updated: February 13, 2024

<p>Images have always been an essential part of pop music, from Elvis and the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" to MTV, the Super Bowl, and "Lemonade." The best pop and rock documentaries do more than just show artists on stage—they offer insight into the music, revealing something that sound alone can’t convey. Here’s a list of 20 of the best concert films of all time.</p>

Images have always been an essential part of pop music, from Elvis and the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" to MTV, the Super Bowl, and "Lemonade." The best pop and rock documentaries do more than just show artists on stage—they offer insight into the music, revealing something that sound alone can’t convey. Here’s a list of 20 of the best concert films of all time.

<p>Even as elder statesmen, the Beastie Boys found ways to puncture the pomposity of rock and pop conventions with this 2006 concert film, assembled from handheld cam footage shot by fans at Madison Square Garden. "Awesome" may lack polish, but the immediacy of this immersive experience more than makes up for it. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_best_final_albums_of_all_time_021324/s1__38983508'>The best final albums of all time</a></p>

"Awesome: I %!@# Shot That"

Even as elder statesmen, the Beastie Boys found ways to puncture the pomposity of rock and pop conventions with this 2006 concert film, assembled from handheld cam footage shot by fans at Madison Square Garden. "Awesome" may lack polish, but the immediacy of this immersive experience more than makes up for it. 

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<p>A who’s who lineup of rock and blues superstars headed by Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray toasts Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday, in 1986, by joining him onstage for a hometown concert in St. Louis. Berry proves he deserves the tribute, outshining his guest stars on every single classic song—though Etta James’s performance on “Rock ’n’ Roll Music” rivals Berry’s original.  </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll"

A who’s who lineup of rock and blues superstars headed by Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray toasts Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday, in 1986, by joining him onstage for a hometown concert in St. Louis. Berry proves he deserves the tribute, outshining his guest stars on every single classic song—though Etta James’s performance on “Rock ’n’ Roll Music” rivals Berry’s original.  

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<p>Metallica’s VHS tribute to the late bass wizard Cliff Burton combines no-budget interview clips and lo-fi footage shot by fans during the band’s early years. The best bits, besides the bludgeoning thrash workouts in Oakland, Denmark, and Germany, include Burton expounding on the band’s integrity (“We do what we wanna do—if they consider that selling out, then whatever”) and holding forth on the quality of the pot he’s smoking. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_20_most_memorable_quotes_from_the_shawshank_redemption_121523/s1__38912919'>The 20 most memorable quotes from 'The Shawshank Redemption'</a></p>

"Metallica: Cliff 'Em All"

Metallica’s VHS tribute to the late bass wizard Cliff Burton combines no-budget interview clips and lo-fi footage shot by fans during the band’s early years. The best bits, besides the bludgeoning thrash workouts in Oakland, Denmark, and Germany, include Burton expounding on the band’s integrity (“We do what we wanna do—if they consider that selling out, then whatever”) and holding forth on the quality of the pot he’s smoking. 

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<p>Chappelle’s last production before walking away from the entertainment business in 2005 was one of his best—a joyous tour of the Brooklyn neighborhood where Chappelle grew up, capped off by a street concert featuring the biggest stars of ’00s progressive hip-hop and neo-soul—Kanye West, the Roots, Erykah Badu, Common, Mos Def, John Legend, a reunited Fugees, and more. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Dave Chappelle's Block Party"

Chappelle’s last production before walking away from the entertainment business in 2005 was one of his best—a joyous tour of the Brooklyn neighborhood where Chappelle grew up, capped off by a street concert featuring the biggest stars of ’00s progressive hip-hop and neo-soul—Kanye West, the Roots, Erykah Badu, Common, Mos Def, John Legend, a reunited Fugees, and more. 

<p>This 2004 documentary has lost some of its impact—it was intended as a benediction on the occasion of Jay-Z’s retirement, which lasted less than two years. And the behind-the-scenes look at "The Black Album" comes off as standard promotional fare. But the Madison Square Garden concert at the center of the film, featuring Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Foxy Brown, Diddy, Missy Elliott, Usher, and, of course, Beyoncé, is easily worth anyone’s attention. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_songs_that_should_be_on_your_bruce_springsteen_playlist_121523/s1__38100590'>20 songs that should be on your Bruce Springsteen playlist</a></p>

"Fade to Black"

This 2004 documentary has lost some of its impact—it was intended as a benediction on the occasion of Jay-Z’s retirement, which lasted less than two years. And the behind-the-scenes look at "The Black Album" comes off as standard promotional fare. But the Madison Square Garden concert at the center of the film, featuring Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Foxy Brown, Diddy, Missy Elliott, Usher, and, of course, Beyoncé, is easily worth anyone’s attention. 

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<p>Albert and David Maysles’ immersive 1970 Rolling Stones tour doc focuses on the disastrous 1969 free concert at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco. There is incendiary performance footage of the Stones, but the proceedings are haunted by the violence that erupts near the end of the concert; the scene in which Mick Jagger watches a rough cut of the Maysles’ footage, showing Meredith Hunter being stabbed to death by one of the Hell’s Angels hired for security, is one of the hardest to watch in all of cinema.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Gimme Shelter"

Albert and David Maysles’ immersive 1970 Rolling Stones tour doc focuses on the disastrous 1969 free concert at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco. There is incendiary performance footage of the Stones, but the proceedings are haunted by the violence that erupts near the end of the concert; the scene in which Mick Jagger watches a rough cut of the Maysles’ footage, showing Meredith Hunter being stabbed to death by one of the Hell’s Angels hired for security, is one of the hardest to watch in all of cinema.

<p>A breathtaking combination of travelogue, concert film, and political documentary, this 2007 art-house gem pairs the hypnotic chamber-rock of Sigur Rós against majestic Icelandic landscapes, with interviews, outdoor concert footage, an intimate coffee-shop performance, and political commentary interspersed. "Heima" is an utterly mesmerizing portrait of first-world affluence.  </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_actors_we_predict_will_break_through_in_2024_012824/s1__39708505'>20 actors we predict will break through in 2024</a></p>

"Heima"

A breathtaking combination of travelogue, concert film, and political documentary, this 2007 art-house gem pairs the hypnotic chamber-rock of Sigur Rós against majestic Icelandic landscapes, with interviews, outdoor concert footage, an intimate coffee-shop performance, and political commentary interspersed. "Heima" is an utterly mesmerizing portrait of first-world affluence.  

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<p>Long before the rock festivals celebrated in Monterey Pop and Woodstock, jazz and R&B artists were playing in front of large outdoor crowds at events like the Newport Jazz Festival. Photographer Bert Stern filmed the 1958 fest—the movie was released two years later—and captured a magical sequence of performances, presented with no voice-over narration or dialogue, from legends like Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, Anita O’Day, and Gerry Mulligan. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Jazz on a Summer's Day"

Long before the rock festivals celebrated in Monterey Pop and Woodstock, jazz and R&B artists were playing in front of large outdoor crowds at events like the Newport Jazz Festival. Photographer Bert Stern filmed the 1958 fest—the movie was released two years later—and captured a magical sequence of performances, presented with no voice-over narration or dialogue, from legends like Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, Anita O’Day, and Gerry Mulligan. 

<p>The Band bows out with a masterful Thanksgiving Day 1976 performance at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, aided by guest spots from Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, and more, plus some soundstage sessions with the Staple Singers—all captured by a young Martin Scorcese in the classiest rock doc ever produced. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_actors_who_starred_in_multiple_major_movies_in_the_same_year/s1__39789419'>20 actors who starred in multiple major movies in the same year</a></p>

"The Last Waltz"

The Band bows out with a masterful Thanksgiving Day 1976 performance at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, aided by guest spots from Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, and more, plus some soundstage sessions with the Staple Singers—all captured by a young Martin Scorcese in the classiest rock doc ever produced. 

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<p>Recorded just six months after the monumental "Live at Leeds," this stripped-down film of the Who’s headlining performance at the Isle of Wight Festival—released on DVD in 1996—captures the band at the peak of their considerable powers. In addition to staples from "Leeds"—“Summertime Blues,” “Substitute,” “Magic Bus”—the quartet plays the bulk of the classic rock opera "Tommy" and previews songs from the aborted "Lifehouse" sessions.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970"

Recorded just six months after the monumental "Live at Leeds," this stripped-down film of the Who’s headlining performance at the Isle of Wight Festival—released on DVD in 1996—captures the band at the peak of their considerable powers. In addition to staples from "Leeds"—“Summertime Blues,” “Substitute,” “Magic Bus”—the quartet plays the bulk of the classic rock opera "Tommy" and previews songs from the aborted "Lifehouse" sessions.

<p>A snapshot of Nirvana at the very moment they were becoming the biggest—and best—rock band in the world. Recorded in their hometown of Seattle just after the release of "Nevermind" in 1991, the band is in ferocious form—Kurt Cobain seems free of the burdens that stardom would hang around his neck, and totally committed to a setlist that amounts to a greatest-hits selection: “Drain You,” “Polly,” “Breed,” “About a Girl,” and, yes, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A moving and exuberant portrait of the band before its tragic moment.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_facts_you_might_not_know_about_the_godfather_and_the_godfather_part_ii_122723/s1__35206664'>20 facts you might not know about 'The Godfather' and 'The Godfather Part II'</a></p>

"Live at the Paramount"

A snapshot of Nirvana at the very moment they were becoming the biggest—and best—rock band in the world. Recorded in their hometown of Seattle just after the release of "Nevermind" in 1991, the band is in ferocious form—Kurt Cobain seems free of the burdens that stardom would hang around his neck, and totally committed to a setlist that amounts to a greatest-hits selection: “Drain You,” “Polly,” “Breed,” “About a Girl,” and, yes, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A moving and exuberant portrait of the band before its tragic moment.

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<p>D.A. Pennebaker’s film of the first great rock festival is an important companion to the better-known Woodstock. The expanded version, released in 2002, captures rock music expanding from a scene into an international movement, with seminal performances by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Big Brother, and the Holding Company. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Monterey Pop"

D.A. Pennebaker’s film of the first great rock festival is an important companion to the better-known Woodstock. The expanded version, released in 2002, captures rock music expanding from a scene into an international movement, with seminal performances by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Big Brother, and the Holding Company. 

<p>Leave it to the late, enigmatic Minneapolis genius to keep one of his greatest accomplishments out of the reach of fans. This 1987 concert film, recorded in the Netherlands and Prince’s Paisley Park Studio and released to promote the classic double album of the same name, has been out of print in the United States since 1991. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_actors_who_performed_their_own_stunts/s1__39789118'>20 actors who performed their own stunts</a></p>

"Sign O' the Times"

Leave it to the late, enigmatic Minneapolis genius to keep one of his greatest accomplishments out of the reach of fans. This 1987 concert film, recorded in the Netherlands and Prince’s Paisley Park Studio and released to promote the classic double album of the same name, has been out of print in the United States since 1991. 

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<p>Elvis Presley’s career was, unthinkably, bottoming out when he appeared on this hour-long NBC TV special, decked out in a black leather jumpsuit to revisit some of his biggest hits and introduce some hard-rocking new numbers (and two new ballads). Alternating between in-the-round acoustic performances with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, from his original band, and orchestral arrangements, Elvis reclaimed the energy and sexiness that had eluded him for more than a decade.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Singer Presents … Elvis"

Elvis Presley’s career was, unthinkably, bottoming out when he appeared on this hour-long NBC TV special, decked out in a black leather jumpsuit to revisit some of his biggest hits and introduce some hard-rocking new numbers (and two new ballads). Alternating between in-the-round acoustic performances with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, from his original band, and orchestral arrangements, Elvis reclaimed the energy and sexiness that had eluded him for more than a decade.

<p>Preposterous, overblown, and an utterly convincing demonstration of Zep’s hard-rock mastery in the early 1970s. "The Song Remains the Same" splices footage of the band’s bombastic 1973 Madison Square Garden concerts with inane fantasy sequences and unflattering behind-the-scenes vignettes; there’s every reason not to like it, and yet the performances retain an undeniable power and appeal. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_facts_you_might_not_know_about_the_hangover_111623/s1__37885973'>20 facts you might not know about 'The Hangover'</a></p>

"The Song Remains the Same"

Preposterous, overblown, and an utterly convincing demonstration of Zep’s hard-rock mastery in the early 1970s. "The Song Remains the Same" splices footage of the band’s bombastic 1973 Madison Square Garden concerts with inane fantasy sequences and unflattering behind-the-scenes vignettes; there’s every reason not to like it, and yet the performances retain an undeniable power and appeal. 

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<p>The ever-evolving stage set and David Byrne’s expanding suit are the visual hooks for Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads concert film, from 1984. But it’s the performances that make "Stop Making Sense" the best rock movie ever made—from Byrne’s solo “Psycho Killer” to definitive renditions of “Once in a Lifetime,” “Take Me to the River,” and “Life During Wartime” (all filled out with contributions from funk all-stars Bernie Worrell and Alex Weir), Demme captures a great band at their very best.   </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Stop Making Sense"

The ever-evolving stage set and David Byrne’s expanding suit are the visual hooks for Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads concert film, from 1984. But it’s the performances that make "Stop Making Sense" the best rock movie ever made—from Byrne’s solo “Psycho Killer” to definitive renditions of “Once in a Lifetime,” “Take Me to the River,” and “Life During Wartime” (all filled out with contributions from funk all-stars Bernie Worrell and Alex Weir), Demme captures a great band at their very best.   

<p>If "Woodstock" and "Gimme Shelter" represent the end of the ’60s, this 1964 extravaganza could be considered a document from the very start of the era. Recorded in Santa Monica in front of 3,000 screaming teenagers, the "T.A.M.I. Show" (the acronym stands for either “Teenage Awards Music International” or “Teen Age Music International”) presented stellar performances by the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Lesley Gore, the Rolling Stones, and, most indelibly, a young James Brown, backed by his early band the Famous Flames. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_facts_you_might_not_know_about_grease_021324/s1__37714782'>20 facts you might not know about 'Grease'</a></p>

"The T.A.M.I. Show"

If "Woodstock" and "Gimme Shelter" represent the end of the ’60s, this 1964 extravaganza could be considered a document from the very start of the era. Recorded in Santa Monica in front of 3,000 screaming teenagers, the "T.A.M.I. Show" (the acronym stands for either “Teenage Awards Music International” or “Teen Age Music International”) presented stellar performances by the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Lesley Gore, the Rolling Stones, and, most indelibly, a young James Brown, backed by his early band the Famous Flames. 

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<p>The band on stage in this 1990 tour documentary—filmed at four stops on R.E.M.’s "Green" tour in 1989—isn’t necessarily one you’d pick for major multiplatinum superstardom just a couple of years later. The Athens college-rock legends are still pretty weird here, shot in grainy black and white, with industrial film footage spliced in with the concert sequences. But Stipe and company are firing on all cylinders, giving energetic performances of early classics “Stand,” “The One I Love,”  and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"TourFilm"

The band on stage in this 1990 tour documentary—filmed at four stops on R.E.M.’s "Green" tour in 1989—isn’t necessarily one you’d pick for major multiplatinum superstardom just a couple of years later. The Athens college-rock legends are still pretty weird here, shot in grainy black and white, with industrial film footage spliced in with the concert sequences. But Stipe and company are firing on all cylinders, giving energetic performances of early classics “Stand,” “The One I Love,”  and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

<p>When Stax Records filled up the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1972 for an all-day concert featuring the label’s biggest stars—Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, Rufus Thomas—it was known as the black Woodstock. Footage from the legendary concert is paired with poignant man-on-the-street interviews with residents of the Watts neighborhood, a nervous stand-up routine by a young Richard Pryor, and even appearances by concert emcee the Rev. Jesse Jackson.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_best_tv_shows_that_lasted_only_one_season_011024/s1__29844374'>The best TV shows that lasted only one season</a></p>

"Wattstax"

When Stax Records filled up the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1972 for an all-day concert featuring the label’s biggest stars—Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, Rufus Thomas—it was known as the black Woodstock. Footage from the legendary concert is paired with poignant man-on-the-street interviews with residents of the Watts neighborhood, a nervous stand-up routine by a young Richard Pryor, and even appearances by concert emcee the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

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<p>The alpha and omega of rock concert movies, a documentary so shrouded in legend that it’s hard to see with clear eyes. Woodstock lives up to the hype—director Michael Wadleigh and his crew capture the complicated mood of the time, as the world shifts from the summer of love toward Watergate and the indulgence of the ’70s. And other festival docs might have greater individual performances, but "Woodstock" is jammed with essential sets—Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Who, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix—from start to finish. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

"Woodstock"

The alpha and omega of rock concert movies, a documentary so shrouded in legend that it’s hard to see with clear eyes. Woodstock lives up to the hype—director Michael Wadleigh and his crew capture the complicated mood of the time, as the world shifts from the summer of love toward Watergate and the indulgence of the ’70s. And other festival docs might have greater individual performances, but "Woodstock" is jammed with essential sets—Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Who, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix—from start to finish. 

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  1. Highest Grossing Concert Tours of All Time

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  2. These are the highest-grossing concert tours of all time

    best concert tours of 2009

  3. 28 of the Highest-Grossing Concert Tours of All Time

    best concert tours of 2009

  4. 14 must-see concerts in Toronto this March

    best concert tours of 2009

  5. best. concert. ever. Roadies, Music Education, Music Is Life, Cool

    best concert tours of 2009

  6. Best Concerts in NYC Including Free Shows and Weekly Parties

    best concert tours of 2009

VIDEO

  1. Top 10 Greatest Concert Tours of All Time

  2. Highest Grossing Concert Tours In 2023

  3. The biggest concert in history

  4. 80/35 concert lineup

  5. Rock Concert at San Diego Stadium 1979

  6. UNBELIEVABLE Music Concert Moments!

COMMENTS

  1. Top 25 Tours of 2009

    Watch videos from the year's top 25 tours, and relive your moment in the front row. (Artists are ranked by total gross earnings from Dec. 6, 2008 through Nov. 21, 2009) 1

  2. Category:2009 concert tours

    0-9. 1st Wonder Tour. 10th Anniversary Mai Kuraki Live Tour 2009 "Best". 21st Century Breakdown World Tour. 90 Millas World Tour. 1955 Tour. 2009 Summer Tour.

  3. Top 20 Concert Tours

    The final 2009 Top 20 Concert Tours ranks artists by the year's total box office gross and includes average box office gross per city and the average ticket price for shows in North America. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.

  4. 2009 Concert Tour Archive

    2009 Concert Tour Archive. AC/DC 29 events. Aerosmith 39 events. Alan Jackson 26 events. Alice in Chains 13 events. Andrew Bird 33 events. Black Crowes 69 events. Blake Shelton 35 events. Blondie 28 events. Bob Dylan 28 events. Boys II Men 41 events. Brad Paisley 44 events. Brand New 50 events. Brandi Carlile 27 events. Britney Spears

  5. The Pollstar Top 50 Concerts Of 2009 (Thanks Jayson)

    For all of the financial troubles of 2009, the concert business had an up year. The numbers for the Top 50 tours were better, across the board, than for 2008, be it total gross revenue or tickets sold. Last year, Chesney was the only artist to sell more than 1 million tickets.

  6. Best Concerts of 2009

    Jul 10, 2009 Kevin Mazur/Getty Images. ... The Best Albums of 2020. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. Dua Lipa Lit Up Saturday Night Live. We Take Paul McCartney For Granted.

  7. Top 10 Concerts of 2009

    In 2009, I photographed 73 concerts and events, and the year was packed with a ton of great tours. These are my picks for the top ten best gigs to photograph in 2009. No Doubt. It was true in July when I shot it and I think it's true now: No Doubt was the tour of the year. I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face in the photo pit during this show ...

  8. U2 tops highest-grossing concert tour list for 2009

    Jan. 1, 2010 12 AM PT. In just 20 beautiful days on the concert trail last year, U2 racked up the highest-grossing North American tour of 2009, pulling in $123 million at the box office in a year ...

  9. TOP-SELLING TOURS OF 2009

    Average gross for tours saw a boost from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, the highest-grossing tour (as of November 24, 2008) was Madonna, bringing in $6,071,181. Recording. ... November 30, 2009. The Concert Pulse ranks each artist by its average box-office gross per city in North America and is based on data reported within the last three months. ...

  10. Summer Guide 2009 -- The Best Concerts, Outdoor Events, and Culture

    27 Get riled up at Madison Square Garden with Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown tour. 28 Attend BAM's 30th-anniversary screening of The Muppet Movie ; bone up on Jim Henson lore beforehand at ...

  11. 30 Biggest Concerts of 2009

    30 Biggest Concerts of 2009. Written by SPIN Staff | January 4, 2010 - 8:48 pm. Revisit the Year in Live Music! SPIN Staff. Share This. Tags: Music News, tyga. Home » News » 30 Biggest Concerts ...

  12. List of most-attended concert tours

    Ed Sheeran's ÷ Tour is the most-attended tour of all time, with a total of 8.9 million tickets sold in 260 shows. The following is a list of the most-attended concert tours with at least 3.5 million ticketed sold, as well as the tours with the most tickets sold by year and the most tickets sold in a single day. The number of attendance is often considered to measure the success of a tour.

  13. Year in review: Best concerts of 2009

    As the concert wound down, the energy level quadrupled, thanks to songs like the rarely-played-live masterpiece "A Day in the Life," which was blended with Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance ...

  14. 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years

    The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years. From Led Zeppelin's U.S. debut to Jay Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' spectacle, and beyond. By. Christopher R. Weingarten, David Browne, Jon ...

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

    16. Ted Leo. The New Jersey punk rocker is unafraid to get a little blood on the stage or a little percussion in the crowd, echoing The Jam, Elvis Costello and The Clash along the way. His between ...

  16. List of highest-grossing concert tours

    The Eras Tour by Taylor Swift is the highest-grossing concert tour of all time and the first to yield over $1 billion in revenue. The following is a list of concert tours that have generated the most gross income, largely from ticket sales.The rankings are based largely on reports by trade publications Billboard and Pollstar. Billboard, which launched the boxscore ranking in 1975 through its ...

  17. Best of 2009 concerts and shows

    7. Emmylou Harris, Overture Hall, Oct. 27 — The alt-country singer-songwriter presented a beautiful set of originals and sparkling covers in Overture Hall, for a show that was elegantly paced and full of high notes. And the grizzled and charming Buddy Miller (one of Harris' Red Dirt Boys) played the best opening set of 2009.

  18. Nickelback's 2009 Concert & Tour History

    Nickelback's 2009 Concert History. 92 Concerts. Nickelback is a rock band that formed in Alberta, Canada. Originally a cover band called "Village Idiot," the band changed its name in 1995. In 1996, Nickelback dropped its debut album "Curb." It was followed by "The State" in 1998. While both saw only moderate commercial success, Nickleback's ...

  19. KISS's 2009 Concert & Tour History

    KISS's 2009 Concert History. Kiss (often stylized as KIϟϟ) is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. Over the years, the members of the band changed, but Stanley, Simmons, Frehley, and Criss remain the best-known lineup. Each of these original members created ...

  20. Best of 2009: The Year In Charts & More

    The biggest hits, the brightest stars, the most iconic moments -- join us as we salute the songs, albums and events that made 2009 one of the decade's most memorable years in music and roll out ...

  21. Best Concerts of 2009

    The best concerts of 2009 including Mayhem at Station 4, Yeah Yeah Yeahs at First Ave, Peelander Z at Turf Club, and Moby at the Fine Line. Skip to the content. ... Cattle Decapitation and Withered had all pulled out of the tour due to backstage (thought to be financial) issues, and a delay in the visa process had prevented Marduk from ...

  22. Linkin Park's 2009 Concert & Tour History

    Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California. The band's current lineup comprises vocalist/rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Mike Shinoda, lead guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Dave Farrell, DJ/turntablist Joe Hahn and drummer Rob Bourdon, all of whom are founding members. Vocalists Mark Wakefield and Chester Bennington are ...

  23. The List: Best concerts of summer 2009

    The List: Best concerts of summer 2009 Slayer, July 17 . Kings of Leon, Aug. 9 . Neko Case, May 29 & 30 ... warped tour featuring bad religion, nofx, less than jake and others; Aug. 9; parking lot ...

  24. Boulder's best concerts of 2009 (VIDEO)

    Plus, the band's multi-level stage set-up, and the use of shadow and lighting, accentuated the show to perfection. This wasn't a concert — it was an artistic event. 3. Blitzen Trapper and Dr. Dog. Fox Theatre, Oct. 20 and Oct. 11, respectively. In 2009, several up-and-coming groups fused jangly guitar sounds with modern edges.

  25. 20 of the best concert films of all time

    Here's a list of 20 of the best concert films of all time. Getty Images ... The band on stage in this 1990 tour documentary—filmed at four stops on R.E.M.'s "Green" tour in 1989—isn't ...