Millions of viewers: The ten greatest concerts in history

million viewers
The ten greatest concerts in history

Apparently the most popular place for huge concerts: Cobacabana Beach in Rio.

© Marcelo Castier/Shutterstock

Helene Fischer will soon appear in front of 100,000 people – but it’s always bigger. The ten concerts that set records.

Helene Fischer (38) is facing an exciting weekend: the singer will give the biggest concert of her career on August 20th in Munich in front of 100,000 people. On a certain beach and a certain artist, that might seem rather puny.

King of Masse: Rod Stewart

The biggest concert in the world to date took place in 1994. At that time Rod Stewart (77) played in Rio de Janeiro on New Year’s Eve on Copacabana Beach. The free concert – and the big fireworks – drew about 4.2 million people to the beach. To this day, this concert is in the Guinness Book of Records.

In 1997, the French musician Jean-Michel Jarre (73) stood on stage in front of around 3 to 3.5 million people in front of the university in Moscow to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the Russian capital. The event, which also included a live link to the Russian space station MIR, was later released as an album: “Oxygen in Moscow.”

The beach of giant concerts

The third largest concert goes to Copacabana Beach again and again to a New Year’s concert. This time the Brazilian singer Jorge Ben Jor (83) played during the transition from 1993 to 1994, while about three million listeners cavorted on the beach. Here too, however, the fireworks may have been the main reason for some.

Fourth place for the biggest concert goes to Jean-Michel Jarre again. It attracted 2.5 million viewers to Paris on the French National Day in 1990. Spoiler: The synth artist will meet us again in this list.

The fifth place of the greatest concerts of all time was again held in Moscow, this time at the Tushino airfield. The “Monsters of Rock” festival took place there in 1991, AC/DC, Pantera and Metallica played in front of 1.6 million people. Admission was free. In order to get the crowds under control, however, soldiers were also deployed, who acted brutally against the fans. There are said to have been several deaths.

Germany record-breaking love

Germany also ranks fifth, at least if you answer the philosophical question of whether DJ sets qualify as concerts with “yes”. In 2008, the Loveparade in Dortmund drew a total of 1.6 million ravers onto the streets, far exceeding the number of visitors to the Loveparades in Berlin. Interesting contrast to the metal festival in Moscow: Despite the same number of visitors, spectators and emergency services are said to have never clashed. “It was extremely loving,” wrote the “Spiegel” about the record event.

The Rolling Stones have to share their seat – which they also earned on Rio’s Copacabana Beach – with the Live 8 concert in 2005. The Stones’ concert was held in 2006 as part of their “A Bigger Bang” tour and brought together 1.5 million people. Live 8 needed numerous world stars such as Alicia Keys (41), Stevie Wonder (72) and Kanye West (45) for its concert in Philadelphia for the same number of viewers.

Jean-Michel Jarre everywhere

Eighth place goes to Jean-Michel Jarre once again, and one begins to wonder why the musician is so often the first choice when nations have a celebration to celebrate. In 1986 he had already set a record. At that time the city of Houston was celebrating its 150th birthday and he attracted 1.3 million people to his concert for it.

Ninth place goes to the second edition of the “Paz Sin Fronteras” Peace Concert, held in Havana in 2009 and gathering about 1.1 million people in the Plaza de la Revolución.

Completing the list are several artists who share tenth place for concerts seen by a million people. There is a concert by the Beach Boys, who performed in Philadelphia on Independence Day in 1985, a concert by the Black Eyed Peas in 2006 on Copacabana Beach and, how could it be otherwise, Jean-Michel Jarre on Bastille Day 1979 in Paris.

Madonna tops everyone

Incidentally, there are even bigger events than all these concerts in modern times – on the Internet. Here Madonna (64) has the edge: On November 28, 2000 she went on stage in London and was watched by eleven million people via the World Wide Web. Jarre couldn’t beat that when he performs on Copacabana Beach for New Year’s Eve.

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