The greatest rock concerts in music history

Photo of James HETFIELD and METALLICA and Jason NEWSTEAD and Lars ULRICH and Kirk HAMMETT; L-R: Jason Newstead, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield performing live onstage.
(Image credit: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images)

What makes a great rock concert? Sure, an awe-inspiring light show and razor-sharp band performance is a given, but a handful of tours and events have delivered that little something… extra.

That could be anything from the integration of live animals, onstage decapitations or the complete destruction of the stage mid-song. We're talking about major concert events that go far beyond your common-or-garden arena shows here.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.

With contributions from