Marathon concerts: Nine of rock’s most legendary long shows

How long is the perfect concert?

There is not one right answer. Depending on the artist, the audience reception, the size of the venue and a whole lot of other factors, there is nothing to say exactly how long a concert will last. And that’s part of the excitement of live music.

But some artists have certainly pushed the boundaries when it comes to concert length. They will perform with shows that last for hours and extend into the early morning. Sometimes these sets are carefully planned; other times, an encouraging decision leads to an epic show.

We revisit nine of rock’s most legendary long shows below.

Led Zeppelin, Jan. 26, 1969, Boston Tea Party, Boston (more than 4 hours)

When Led Zeppelin first arriving in the United States in late 1968, they surprised critics with their towering live sound. No one had quite seen them as them: equal parts British rockers and deep Delta blues aficionados. In January 1969, a few weeks after the release of their self-titled debut albumLed Zeppelin began a four-night run at the Boston Tea Party, a small venue (400 capacity, according to New England Historical Society), who became known for attracting people like them Velvet Underground,, Grateful Dead and other actions on the way to becoming global stars. The first three nights of Zeppelin’s run were something to behold, but it was the fourth and final show that solidified Led Zeppelin as one of the most powerful live bands to exist. They reportedly played for more than four hours. After running out of original material, they approached Elvis Presleythat The Beatles and other cover numbers. A 20-year-old Steven Tyler was among the audience, sat with crossed legs in the back and moved by the music so intensely that he cried. “What I’m worried about was the central Zeppelin concert, the one that put everything in focus, one that we played on our first American tour of the Boston Tea Party,” bassist John Paul Jones told NME in 1973. “I suppose that was when we realized what Led Zeppelin was going to become.”

Grateful Dead, May 7, 1972, Bickershaw Festival, Bickershaw, England (more than 4 hours)

It’s no secret that Grateful Dead thrived on extra long live performances – it was the musical space where they felt most comfortable. “[I’ve] always been a musician and interested in improvising, and it’s as if I consider life a continuous series of improvisations, ” Jerry Garcia told Rolling stones in January 1972, just a few months before The Dead took the stage at the Bickershaw Festival in England. The weather was wet, and concert goers – among others Joe Strummer and Elvis Costello – trudged through the mud to hear a series of American songs perform over several days. But it was The Dead, on the festival’s third and final day, that made the jaw drop with an approximately five-hour performance. The set contained extended jams of several songs – Ron “Pigpen” McKernan delivered a 20-minute rendition of “Good Lovin ‘, while” The Other One “clocked in at over half an hour – inspiring a new generation of artists to squeeze in their live performances.

Guns N ‘Roses, aug. 3, 1991, Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California. (approx. 3 and a half hours)

Performs the fourth of four consecutive sold-out shows in Inglewood, California, on Aug. 3, 1991, Favor a Roses was on stage for about three and a half hours, making it one of the longest shows of their careers. They played more than 30 songs, stretched the concert out to the early morning hours, and finally ended the night with “Paradise City” under another extra number. Shannon Hoon off Blind melon and Skid Row‘s Sebastian Bach appeared in the first extra issue and helped Axel Rose on “You Ain’t the First” and “You’re Crazy”, respectively. None of them Use your illusion the album was ready for release when the tour launched in May. They finally arrived in September, but that did not deter fans from filling the forum and sticking to the last.

Pixies, Oct. 13, 2010, Teatro La Cupula, Santiago, Chile (approx. 4 hours)

The Aug. 5, 2010, the collapse of a ramp leading into a Chilean mine left 33 workers trapped underground. It was not until October. 13, 69 days later that all miners were safely liberated. This also happened to be the day Elves was scheduled to perform at the Teatro La Cupula in Santiago, their first major show ever in the country. As frontman Black Francis said at the time, the band got the good news about five minutes before they went on stage. “We wanted to do something to show how affected we were by this,” Black said said. “So we played a special set, 33 songs for the 33 miners, the longest set we’ve ever played as a band.” It is unclear exactly how long the concert lasted, probably about four hours, but it was well received by the participants “We were so touched by this story,” Francis said. “How many lives had been affected by this and how the Chilean people came together to support what can only be described as a miracle.”

Frank Marino, dec. 10-11, 2010, Agora Theater, Cleveland (approx. 6 hours)

Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush not only played a few back-to-back three-hour concerts in December 2010, he also invited fans to come to the Agora Theater to see the six-hour rehearsal the day before. (That’s 12 hours of total playing time over two days.) It was all professionally filmed and recorded and edited into a six-hour concert DVD. “While the light rig was small, it was a good old rock ‘n’ roll rig, the kind I specialize in and perfect for this band,” light director Charlie “Cosmo” Wilson, who has also rig light for AC / DC and Foreigner,, said later. “Frank Marino has never made a proper video. I had wanted to make light for him for so long, it was an honor to make something rare that will last forever. “

The Cure, April 21, 2013, Foro Sol Stadium, Mexico City (4 hours, 6 minutes)

In April 2013, a few days after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook southern Mexico, the country’s capital experienced another seismic event: more than four hours of music by Cure. The occasion was Robert Smith’s 54th birthday, and the band played 50 songs during a marathon show that lasted four hours and six minutes. They played four extras, the last of which contained 12 songs. It was not quite a surprise to the audience: The Cures shows during their Great Circle Tour were known for their length. The Guardian even criticized the programs for being too long.

Phish, dec. 31, 1999, and Jan. 1, 2000, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, Fla. (approx. 7 hours)

Phish stepped into the new millennium and did what they are best at: jamming as if there is no tomorrow. The band hosted a two-day event at the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida to ring in the new year in front of thousands of fans. (More than 80,000 people showed up, even though only 60,000 tickets were sold.) The second day featured an afternoon set plus an epic performance from midnight to sunrise that lasted seven hours. “The idea was to play in the continental United States outside all night until the sun comes up,” frontman Trey Anastasio later revoked. “It’s the year 2000. Y2K was supposed to happen at that time. All computers will be off. The world will come to an end. But we will all be together. After pulling a full night. Planes will have fallen from the sky. You will not be able to get your money out of the bank. Do you remember that? People actually thought so. “

Bob Dylan, Jan. 12, 1990, Toad’s Place, New Haven, Conn. (4 hours, 20 minutes)

One of the peaks of Bob Dylan‘s Never Ending Tour took place on Jan. 12, 1990, at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Conn. The 80s had been a whirlwind for Dylan – first spending a few years wondering fans with a twist to religious music, and then on a tour with Tom Petty and Heartbreakers and finally to become a member of Wilburys Travel. In between all this he made seven albums. By the end of the decade, his live performances had become dull. But when he arrived at Toad’s Place, a small club with a capacity of about 700, the tickets were gone in less than 20 minutes. To start the new decade, Dylan performed a show of 50 songs that lasted more than four hours. When Dylan came off the stage at the scheduled time, he asked the venue’s owner, Brian Phelps, if he could stay. “Dylan asked me if he could play another set. And we said, of course, go ahead!” Phelps revoked. “You know, and they asked again and played a third. ‘May I play another?’ You know what? Yes! Keep going! There’s no problem! ” Dylan even took requests from the audience and played covers off Bruce Springsteen‘Dancing in the Dark’, Hank Williams ‘”Lonesome Whistle” and a Traveling Wilburys’ song, “Congratulations”.

Bruce Springsteen, July 31, 2012, Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland (4 hours, 6 minutes)

Just when you think the boss is ready to call it a night, he keeps the party going. Bruce Springsteen is known for his marathon concerts and has continued to break his record for the longest show many times over the years. In 2012, he played his longest concert to date in Helsinki, Finland: four hours and six minutes. (He broke his American record in 2016 by playing a show in Philadelphia that lasted four hours and four minutes.) For Springsteen, it’s a different nature to keep going. “I am conditioned to do so by many, many years of experience,” he said said in 2016. “Do not try it at home, children.”

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