The Wildest Tours

Watching one of your favourite artists perform live on stage remains without a doubt the moment when music’s ability to reach out and touch people is at its most powerful. The energy and vital force exuded by a live performance awakens an inexplicable feeling within us. So before we make our way back to fill concert venues once again, let’s take a little look back on the wildest, longest, and most lucrative tours in history.



Launched in 2009, U2’s 360° Tour remains to this day the biggest tour of all time, eclipsing even the Rolling Stones 2005-2007 tour. The numbers are staggering: more than $700m in revenue, and more than 7 million audience members attending 110 concerts. Bono’s band didn’t do things by halves. With a convoy of more than 120 lorries on the road, a sound system that exceeded 50m, the gargantuan tour cost €100m, ran for two years, and featured dates in Europe, North America, and Oceania. The stage design was equal in scale to the tour itself, with its 360° central stage overlooked by a giant dome 30m tall.



The early ‘70s were troubled times for the Rolling Stones. In an effort to escape the British tax man, the band fled to the Côte d’Azur to record their masterful double album, Exile On Main Street What ensued was a chaotic recording with interminable sessions at the Villa Nellcôte, producing an album that was shunned upon release, but later gained cult status. As if this difficult birth wasn’t enough, the Stones then set off on a massive tour of the United States: the Stone Touring Party. The concept? That the tour would form a wandering festival across the USA. What followed were 55 days of debauchery and excess, with problems with the law, Hells Angels, groupies, drugs, and trashed hotel rooms... it had it all. The only record of those crazy days is the documentary film, Cocksucker Blues by Robert Franck, which the band still refuses to give an official release even today, so controversial it proved.



It all began with a quip in a 1989 Bob Dylan interview, when a journalist mentioned that he was almost going straight from one tour and on to another with no rest. “It’s the same tour, it’s never ending”, Dylan explained. And it’s true that since 1988, Dylan has kept on keeping on with the “Never Ending Tour” that has almost never stopped (apart from in May 1997, for medical reasons), and has attracted a series of prestigious guests: Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Carlos Santana, Ronnie Wood, Norah Jones, Tom Petty, Jimmy Vaughan and Carl Perkins and Elvis Costello have shared the stage to perform Dylan songs with the Band. According to the experts, the 3000th gig on this tour took place in Austria on 19 April 2019. We hope that the great Bob Dylan, now 80 years old, will be hitting the road once again when we emerge from the pandemic.


Roger Waters is a man who likes to do things properly. With Pink Floyd, he would put on a concert with a visual dimension that was worthy of the band’s psychedelic music. In their early days, Pink Floyd’s psychedelic light and smoke show had caused a sensation in the UFO club in the London of the swinging 60s, but it was the major concerts that began in the 1970s that switched things up a gear. In 1973, during a performance of “On the Run”, a track about fear of flying, the band decided to fly a model airplane above the audience, which would then crash in a booming explosion. Talk about putting on a show. For their In The Flesh tour four years later, the group became a pioneer in scenography techniques, with waterfalls, and even the first virtual projections. But it was in the 1980s that concerts on The Wall tour would really generate a buzz. To illustrate the concept album of the same name, the band gave free rein to their imaginations, most notably through the live construction of a wall 12m high, with fireworks and giant puppets. Only able to be performed in a limited number of venues, the concerts of The Wall paved the way for the outlandish scenography of the next 20 years.



To celebrate the 850th anniversary of the city of Moscow in 1997, Jean-Michel Jarre was invited to perform at the foot of Sparrow Hill. Initially planned for an audience of 30,000, in the end some 3.5 million people (one quarter of the city’s population) would attend the concert that Saturday night in September, to witness a wild show of sound and light. The cosmonauts on the MIR international space station even joined in live from space. The sky is the limit?