How big is too big? The biggest concert by live attendance clocks in at a record 3.5 million people. This begs the question: Do bigger venues, stages, or concerts mean a better concert experience? Personally, the best concerts in terms of performance and sound were at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas and The Warfield in San Francisco. Both venues can hold a decent crowd. Yet neither is known for breaking any world records. The Warfield holds approx 2,300 seats, while the Hard Rock Cafe approx 2,000.
Compare that to the 3.5 million attendance at the Rod Stewart or Jean Michel Jarre concerts. With that many people, how close to stage can you possibly get or even within viewing distance with millions in front of you. Once you get to that level, it becomes more about the light shows, fireworks, and crowd experience.
1. Rod Stewart at Copacabana Beach
(1994) 3.5 million people
The Guinness World Records site credits the largest live concert to Rod Stewart who drew 3.5 million for a New Year’s Eve 1994 performance at Copacabana Beach
2. Jean Michel Jarre
(1997) 3.5 million people in Moscow
Musician Jean Michel Jarre was commissioned by the Mayor of Moscow to give a concert in celebration of the city’s 850th anniversary
(1994) 2.5 million people in Paris
Paris La Defense – Une Ville En Concert by musician Jean Michel Jarre in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. Jarre designed a pyramid-shaped stage for the concert which played out in downtown Paris complete with a synchronised illumination of 65 tons of fireworks.
3. New York Philharmonic in Central Park
(1986) 800,000 people
The Philharmonic concert in Central Park is credited as the largest ever attendance at a classical concert.
4. Garth Brooks in Central Park
(1997) 750,000 people
5. Steve Wozniak’s 1983 US Festival
(1983) 670,000 people
6. Summer Jam at Watkins Glen
(1973) over 600,000 people
7. Isle of Wight Festival
(1970) 600,000 people
8. Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park
(1981) 500,000 people
9. Toronto SARS Benefit
(2003) 450,000 people
10. Woodstock 1969
(1969) 400,000 people
(1997) 385,000 people at Blockbuster RockFest featuring Paula Cole, Bush, Counting Crows, No Doubt, Collective Soul, Jewel, Matchbox 20, The Wallflowers
(1983) 375,000 people at Heavy Metal Day in San Bernadino California
(1988) 180,000 people at Tina Turner concert in Maracan Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(1990) 180,000+ people at Paul McCartney concert in Maracan Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(1998) 100,000 people at Widespread Panic concert in Athens, Georgia
(1985) 1.5 billion people watched a “Live Aid” a “live” televised concert via satellite raising money for famine relief in Ethiopa.