Millions of music lovers and artists alike shared in a common loss this past year: live performances and concerts. Cancelled tickets and empty venues are a minor price to pay for safety, but as we patiently wait for the next time we can take our dancing and singing to a stadium rather than our bedrooms, let’s have a look back at the six greatest tours of all time. From record-breaking albums to trailblazing artists, from the 70s to this past decade, here are some tours that made music history:
Lady Gaga: Born This Way Ball (2013)
The third concert tour of the Queen of Pop’s career, Born This Way Ball visited every continent but Antarctica. Between the musical success of the coordinating studio album, Lady Gaga’s electrifying stage presence, and the mesmerizing stage design, Born This Way Ball gave concertgoers an unforgettable live experience.
The centerpiece of the experience was the enchanting castle stage structure, which weighed over 30 tons and stood five stories high.
All good things must come to an end, and this ball’s lifespan was cut short when Gaga sustained a hip injury which forced her to cancel all future tour dates after 98 dates.
Depeche Mode: World Violation Tour (1990)
Three decades later, English electronic group Depeche Mode’s World Violation Tour still maintains its status as one of the greatest tours of all time. The tour was in support of their seventh studio album, Violator.
By the end of the tour, Depeche Mode had toured for over 1.2 million fans. Their music traveled from 43 dates in North America, to 38 in Europe, 6 in Asia, and one in Oceania.
Kraftwerk: Autobahn Tour (1975)
German band Kraftwerk was formed in 1970, celebrating over a half a century of making music as a group. Older fans that might reminisce over their fourth studio album, Autobahn, but there’s no need to get nostalgic yet: Kraftwerk is still active to this day!
Widely known as pioneers of electronic music, the band’s tour for the album helped bring the new and unique sound to a global stage.
The seventh concert tour in the singer’s career, by the time Beyoncé hit the road for associated album Lemonade, her refined artistry and global fanbase resulted in a gross box office of $256 million from 49 dates. The all-stadium tour was sold-out for all 49 shows. It ranked #1 and #2 on Pollstar’s 2016 mid-year Top 100 Tours chart, both in North America and worldwide.
It’s safe to say that concertgoers got every cent out of what they paid for, as the tour’s production and staging included a 60-foot rotating LED cuboid, a treadmill runway, and a secondary stage that stored and produced over 2,000 gallons of water. Opening acts included the likes of DJ Khaled.
Daft Punk: Alive (2006-2007)
This tour was Daft Punk’s first tour as a duo after 1997, and fans a decade in waiting were not disappointed by what The Times would come to describe as a “memorable, sensory spectacle, both dazzling and deafening.”
The spectacle being described, one that traveled across 5 continents and 48 dates, was a visual concept far ahead of the times, as in 2006 Daft Punk took the new Mac Pros and created a video of lighting and special effects to be streamed on large LED screens on stage.
Madonna: Who’s That Girl World Tour
The American singer and icon’s second concert tour, but first to hit the worldwide stage, was supported by her third studio album, True Blue. Madonna even trained before hitting the road, doing aerobics, jogging, and weightlifting to keep up with the complex choreography and dance routine. The show had seven costume changes, all of which was carefully curated by American designer Marlene Stewart. The commercial success of the tour grossed the equivalent of $56 million today, from 38 shows and approximately 1.5 million audience members.