The 10 Most Iconic Rock Concerts

The Most Iconic Rock Concerts

Here at therock.ie we are pleased to share our top 10 iconic rock concerts of all time.

10. Bruce Springsteen at Capitol Theatre 1978

In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was already on his way to becoming one of the greatest rock acts of all time. In August 1978, Springsteen headlined Madison Square Garden (MSG) for the first time. However, it was three shows at New Jersey’s Capitol Theatre that have gone down in Springsteen folklore.

The Capitol Theatre is a small, intimate venue in comparison to MSG. When you combine that with Springsteen’s stunning sets, it is a deadly mix of entertainment. The legendary singer treated fans to many hits that night such as ‘Born to Run’, ‘Badlands’ and ‘Thunder Road’. Something magical happened across those three nights and is perfectly encapsulated in the version of ‘Because The Night’. Listen to it below.

 

9. Thin Lizzy at Slane Castle 1981

Slane castle has seen many incredible performances over the years from Queen to Bowie to Eminem to Oasis and many more. In 1981, Thin Lizzy became the first band to ever headline Slane and set the benchmark for many legendary acts over the years.

Joining Thin Lizzy that day were U2, Hazel O’Connor, Rose Tattoo, Sweet Savage, The Bureau and Megahype. Thin Lizzy delivered an incredible performance on that fatefulday.

Slane castle holds a significant place in the hearts of Irish rock fans. Slane concerts are huge and artists who headline the cherish ground in Co. Meath know this. Thin Lizzy deserve a huge amount of credit for making Slane what it is today. Unfortunately, there is no video footage available, but you can listen to the performance below.

8. Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert 1992

Wembley stadium makes its first appearance on this list. In 1992 in front of a sold out crowd, huge names from the music world descended on the London stadium. It was a benefit concert for Freddie Mercury. Mercury died of Aids and all proceeds of the concert went to charities related to the disease.

Bob Geldof, U2, Def Leppard, Spinal Tap, Metallica, and Guns N Roses all performed sets on that day. Queen also performed that day. The band had guest appearances on all the songs they played that day. Legendary artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, and Robert Plant all performed with Queen. James Hetfield and Axl Rose had double duties that day and also performed with the remaining members of Queen.

A sold out show, filled to brim with the best and most legendary musicians of our age in a historical venue for a great cause is certainly iconic. Any video could be used to show how brilliant this concert was, but Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen, Elton John and Axl Rose is hard to beat.

7. Metallica in Antarctica 2013

2013 was a record breaking year for Metallica. They became the only band in history to play concerts in all seven continents. The fact they did it in one year is even more impressive. The band, crew and fans embarked on a week’s voyage to and around Antarctica from South America.

The band played at the Argentinian Carlini Scientific base. Instead of a P.A. system the band played their set through headphones, like a silent disco. The show was sponsored by Coca Cola. Metallica played inside a dome, another measure to protect the landscape of Antarctica. In a kind gesture from Metallica and Coca Cola, an additional three other domes were donated to the base.

The band played a greatest hits set that lasted over an hour. Throughout the near 40 year career, Metallica have played some unique and interesting concerts, however, a show at the bottom of the world is by far their most unique. The full concert can be seen in the video below.

6. The Beatles at Apple Corp Rooftop 1969

Throughout their legendary ten year career, The Beatles played many shows that have gone down in rock and roll history. From shows at The Cavern in Liverpool, to rocking the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and their shows that saw them take over America, The Beatles could take up all ten spots in this list.

However, their concert from Apple Corp rooftop is their most iconic. It was the band’s last public appearance together. The band played a 42 minute set on top of their London office. The Met Police made an appearance too, requesting that the band lower the volume. The stunt of performing an impromptu concert on top of a roof has been replicated many times before, but The Beatles effort remains the best.

Footage of the concert can be seen in the 1970 documentary ‘Let it Be’. The Beatles set many trends in the music world and going out with a bang has never been done better than the way they did it. Watch them perform ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and enjoy.

5. U2 Slane Castle 2001

In 2001, U2 became the first band to headline two shows at Slane castle in the same summer. The first concert was held a week after the death of Bono’s father. The second show was the same day as Ireland’s win against The Netherlands. The match was shown in between sets from Nelly Furtado and Ash. A concert film was released in 2002.

U2’s performance at Slane that year is legendary. The band delivers an incredibly passionate version of ‘ Sunday Bloody Sunday’ in where Bono names the victims of 1998 Omagh bombings.

These concerts were electric. U2 were on another level as they fed off the 80,000 strong crowd. This is captured perfectly in their performance of ‘All I Want Is You’ that leads into the iconic ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. Check it out below.

4. Led Zeppelin Madison Square Garden 1973

Led Zeppelin are one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The duo of singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page is hard to beat. In the 70s, Zeppelin were in the prime and were a household name across the world.
The band have many iconic hits such as ‘Achilles Last Stand’, ‘No Quarter’, ‘Rock and Roll’ and most notably, ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The latter song has been one of dispute as Zeppelin just won a court case clearing them of plagiarism on ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous venues in the world. In 1973 Led Zeppelin played three sold out shows at MSG. These shows were immortalised in the film ‘The Songs Remain the Same’. This film is a must see for any music fan. Led Zeppelin are captivating and nothing personifies that more than the performance of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from these shows.

3. Monsters of Rock Moscow 1991

The Iron Curtain had fallen, and the Soviet Union was no more. “One show that stands out in my memory, is the time we shared the stage in Moscow.” Brian Johnson tells Lars Ulrich in his life on the road series. “The government negotiated with the students, the kids, that as part of the settlement, they were going to get a rock concert” says Ulrich.

On September 28th, 1991, E.S.T (Russian heavy metal band), The Black Crowes, Pantera, Metallica and AC/DC took to the stage at Tushino airfield in Moscow. This concert is one of the biggest of all time. Various sources list the attendance between 750,000 and 1.6 million people.

The Russian military acted as security for the event. As the show goes on, it can be seen in many videos that the soldiers forget their duty and rock out to the acts on stage. Metallica stole the show that day and for good reason. They opened their set with ‘Enter Sandman’ and proceeded to electrify the hundreds of thousands in attendance. The images of Russian military helicopters flying above the crowd, soldiers and fans all joining together in the name of music is iconic. AC/DC at the time were already a legendary live act. Metallica’s performance that day propelled them to AC/DC levels. Check out the performance of ‘Enter Sandman’ below.

2. Woodstock 1969

Woodstock 1969 is one of the most iconic concerts of all time. The 60s in America were dominated by race issues, student protests and the Vietnam war. Out of these, a culture and movement was born. The hippie movement was in full force. This bohemian way of life was spilling into society on many levels such as fashion, art, and music.

Many musicians at the time embodied this way of life, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival. They all performed at Woodstock over that weekend in August in 1969. All the acts that performed were championing peace and love. Woodstock was supposed to be an organic and bohemian festival that would usher in a new way of life in America. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

The festival was organised by record companies who saw the hippie movement as a cash cow. Woodstock wasn’t the first hippie festival. The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was held as a pre-cursor to see if a bigger hippie festival could take place. Both festivals happened.

Woodstock saw legendary performances from Carlos Santana, The Band, CRC, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and many more. However, there was no performances better than Jimi Hendrix. His concert and performance of Voodoo Child is amazing. Guitar playing has arguably never been better than Hendrix and this song. You can decide for yourself.

1. Live Aid 1985

This legendary concert at Wembley tops the list. Organised by Bob Geldof in order to raise money for famine relief in Africa, most notably Ethiopia. Concerts were held in England, West Germany, The Soviet Union, The USA, Canada, Japan, and Yugoslavia. 1.4 billion people across the globe watch the concerts on TV.

The Wembley show is the most iconic. The list of performers are incredible; Status Quo, Ultravox, The Boomtown Rats, Spandau Ballet, U2, Elton John, David Bowie, Sting, Phil Collins, Queen and Paul McCartney.

One band in particular, stole the show that day. Led by Freddie Mercury, Queen delivered an incredible concert. They treated the 70,000 plus crowd in Wembley and millions around the world to riveting performances of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody, ‘Radio Ga Ga’, ‘Hammer to Fall’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’. Footage of Mercury doing vocals exercises with the crowd are legendary. Mercury was the conductor and the world was his symphony.

Live Aid was a fantastic cause and gave the world hope and it gave the world music. Queen’s iconic full set can be watched below. Enjoy!

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