Music, the wine that fills the cup of peace and letting go, stands for all that cannot be expressed through words, and all that cannot be kept silent. This stenography of emotions influences billions of people, feeding both the mind and soul. You can hear it everywhere, from restaurants to taxis, in subways, in the comfort of your own home, and even on the street with your iPod. However, music receives a whole new connotation when played live. An exceptional live concert will leave a permanent mark on your entire life. I’m sure you remember your first concert and I’m sure you remember the moment when you saw your favorite artist or band perform right in front of you. Even if you are hundreds of feet away from your idol, you will still appreciate the experience that will become a story worth telling your grandchildren.
There are concerts, and there are mind-blowing performances, the kind that break records and enter history. Big bands hire only the best designers to build their stages and only go for brand new concepts, taking their equipment on the road with them when touring in order to set up the same identical concert stage wherever and whenever they play. Many artists go all out when it comes to their stage because it is a direct representation of who they as an artist and what they are trying to portray with that specific concert.
5. Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball: $1 Million Per Set-up
Between 2012 and 2013, infamous American singer Lady Gaga performed 98 concerts as part of her notorious Born This Way Ball. The concert stage was designed using the sketches made by the artist herself and became the largest touring scenic structure, five stories tall, with three dimensions, all revolving around a gigantic Gothic castle. The castle itself weighed 30 tons and broke new grounds in terms of technology and innovation, as it could be assembled in less than six hours. It also featured 400 square feet of built in LED lighting and cost more than $2 million to create. It took 15 tractors just to move the castle from one setting to the other.
Lady Gaga’s show was divided into five acts, each requiring different props. Lady Gaga made her entrance through a huge zipped vagina, she dangled from a meat rack, danced with knights, and even rode a human horse, which is enough to raise controversy and break the bank. Reaching $181 million in earnings, the Born This Way Ball is the fifth highest grossing tour by a female solo artist. The brilliant stage cost approximately $1 million to put together each time.
4. The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour: $1.6 Million Per Set-up
Between 2005 and 2007, famous rock band The Rolling Stones held a worldwide concert tour to launch their album A Bigger Bang. It immediately became the second grossing tour in history after U2’s 360° Tour, with sales reaching $558 million. The 85 foot tall and 200 foot wide structure featured firework shows and computer generated graphics, with two 60 foot stage towers with balconies for fans with a generous wallet. The stage was the size of two basketball courts and weighed around 80,000 pounds, making it the largest portable set ever created. More than 100 tractor trailers were required to transport the stage and a permanent crew of 150 workers to put together.
Designed by Mark Fisher, the man behind Pink Floyd’s spectacular The Wall stage, the A Bigger Bang stage featured a gigantic video screen in the middle and cost an estimated $1.6 million to put up during each one of the 147 shows The Rolling Stones performed during their A Bigger Bang Tour.
3. Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet Tour: $2 Million Per Show
Madonna is all about extravagance and she never seizes to impress her fans. The Queen of Pop deserves only the best and no expense was spared during her Sticky and Sweet Tour. The tour cost an estimated jaw-dropping $261 million to stage, which translates into an average $2 million per show. The glamorous stage was flanked by two large sparkling M’s encrusted with diamonds which cost over $1 million each. Madonna made her grand entrance on a white Rolls Royce and played on the T-shaped catwalk stage accompanied by virtual Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Pharrell Williams, and Kanye West, all present on a giant screen.
Between 2008 and 2009, the Sticky and Sweet Tour saw a total of 85 shows which gathered more than 3.5 million fans who came to see their idol perform. Madonna’s tour grossed $408.6 million, making it the highest-grossing tour by a solo female artist.
2. Roger Waters’ The Wall Tour: $10 Million Per Set-up
One of the most notable concerts in history, an incredible experience that marked generations, Roger Waters‘ The Wall Tour is inspired by the original Pink Floyd’s The Wall album and tours. Not just a concert, but a complex show in the true sense of the word, with impressive stage theatrics, design, and symbolism, Roger Water’s The Wall Tour was held between 2010 and 2013 and cost an estimated $60 million just for the props.
With a total of 219 concerts throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Oceania, all featuring the biggest on-stage video screen ever, a giant video screen running more than 500 feet in length and more than 80 feet in height, it cost an average $10 million to put up the stage in each new location. With an anti-war message, Roger Waters used the pictures his fans sent him of their loved ones who died during war and projected them on the gigantic wall. The huge structure conceived in the shape of the famous wall from the Pink Floyd album was designed by Mark Fisher. The wall and the inflatable pig cost a total of $16 million. The wall is demolished piece by piece at the end of the show by the symbolic pig. The other puppets alone cost $2 million. Throughout the tour, it cost $200,000 a day just to keep the show on the road. Roger Waters’ The Wall Tour grossed over $89 million in North America alone, making the tour the second grossing concert in North America and the third grossing in the world
1. U2’s 360° Tour: $23-31 Million Per Set-up
U2’s 360° Tour concert stage goes straight to number one on our list as the most technologically innovative, the biggest, and of course, the most expensive concert stage in history. It also featured the loudest sound system ever assembled. Between 2009 and 2012, the famous rock band U2 concerted no less than 110 times under a gigantic 200-ton arachnid suggestively called The Claw. The structure weighed 200 tons and its central pylon reached 151 feet in height.
During the 360° Tour, the band traveled throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia, each time putting up the same gigantic 360 degrees stage that allowed each and every fan to have a good look at their idols. The other major attraction on the stage was a huge video wall worth no less than $1 million. With a crew of 300 workers and a budget of $750,000 a day, the entire stage weighed over 400 tons and cost between $23 and $31 million to put up each time. U2’s 360° Tour became the highest grossing tour in history, with sales reaching $730 million.
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