Big artists from across the globe have created memorable experiences that are etched in the minds of people who were there to witness these enormous gatherings. We travel through Brazil, Russia, France, Germany and the United States to take a look at seven concerts that made it to our list of the highest attended concerts in the world to date.
Music concerts and festivals are a conscious gathering of hundreds, thousands and millions of people who connect to artists, their music, their truth and their message.
Together, we jump through catchy choruses, shouting our lungs out. We’re led into goosebumps at very specific moments, overwhelmed by the awe-striking effect a section of a live set has; the striking of the right chord. We’re moved to tears in somber moments of sadness, and we tend to clench our fists in anger when we hear sounds of protest; maybe even get into a little mosh frenzy with the crowd to channel these intense emotions. There’s no stopping this roller coaster. Absorbing all these expressions is truly witnessing a live concert, one where the experience is personal, yet shared by everyone.
Our lives may have been brought to a standstill, the world over, but that won’t put a stop to our spirited search for ways to head back into concerts. For now, however, we’re going to find comfort in some of the biggest, and most successful concerts from across the globe.
Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach, Brazil (1994)
This concert is one for the books! The Rod Stewart concert at Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro, held on the New Year’s Eve of ‘94, stands to be the largest attended free rock concert in history. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the concert had around 4.2 million attendees, however, this figure isn’t accurate, as many had come to watch the fireworks that night too. Most estimated figures round off at around 3.5 million – for those who solely attended the concert. Stewart staged this free concert as a gift to the many underprivileged people of Rio.
Jean-Michel Jarre at Moscow State University, Russia (1997)
The French composer, performer and record producer was commissioned by the Mayor of Moscow, on the city’s 850th anniversary, to give a performance at the State University of Moscow. It is said to have been one of the largest en masse concerts ever. Jean-Michel had been loved by the people of Russia since the 1970s and this civic event was a much-awaited concert. According to his website, Jarre reserved one of the most touching moments for the Russian audience as a surprise – a direct link with the Russian Space Station Mir – live from space during the concert!
Jorge Ben Jor at Copacabana Beach, Brazil (1993)
Exactly a year before the Rod Stewart concert took place, Brazilian singer Jorge Ben Hor broke the 3 million mark with his concert in 1993. That New Year’s Eve was the first time there was a gathering of such scale at Copacabana Beach.
Jean-Michel Jarre at La Defense District in Paris, France (1994)
On French National Holiday – Bastille Day – held on the 14th of July, the La Defense District of Paris was turned into a huge concert site to commemorate the 18th century French Revolution. This celebration has been and continues to be a famed yearly event. However, with Jarre’s performance drawing in an additional attendance of a whopping two million fans, this 1994 event has since gone down in history for its immensely sizable attendance.
Monsters of Rock in Moscow, Russia (1991)
This one is probably the heaviest rock concert of such scale on this list! Among the one-off Monsters of Rock concerts that took place in the Soviet Union, was the 1991 edition. The show featured famed rock names such as AC/DC, Pantera, Metallica and The Black Crowes. A stunning 1.6 million people gathered at the Tushino Airfield in Moscow for this show.
Love Parade in Dortmund, Germany (2008)
This electronic dance music festival in Germany achieved a new apex during its 2008 edition in Dortmund. This happened to be the second-last edition of the festival because of the Crowd Crush Disaster in 2010. With a legacy that started off on the streets of Berlin in 1989, this festival garnered a whopping 1.6 million attendees, with performances from renowned DJs such as Armin Van Buren, David Guetta, German outfit Digitalism and many more.
Live 8 Concert in Philadelphia, USA (2005)
The Live 8 Concert, of 2005, was one of ten benefit concerts that took place exclusively in G8 states and South Africa. This global event was a staggering success, with over 150 artists performing simultaneously, across the world. Unlike the other shows, the concert in Philadelphia was not a ticketed event, with authorities leaving crowd numbers undisclosed. However, presenters on stage repeatedly mentioned this number is above 1 million, with estimates running up to the 1.5 million mark. The show included performances from global sensations such as Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Kanye West, The Black Eyed Peas, Linkin Park and Jay-Z, along with presenters Will Smith, Natalie Portman and many more.
Technology has taken our ability to produce live shows of massive scales to the next level. Producing surreal experiences and creating smooth, along with efficient ways to execute these is an evolution in itself. When coupled with music – a universal language – the possibilities of an enriching, revolutionary event multiply drastically, with concert-goers eagerly awaiting and welcoming an entirely new live concert experience!