Questions regarding canceled events? Click here to learn about our Buyer Guarantee Canceled events: Learn about our Buyer Guarantee
Concerts All concerts

The Top 100 Greatest Tours of All Time

January 23, 2019 by Vivid Seats and Consequence of Sound

Top 100 Greatest Tours Ever

Vivid Seats/Consequence of Sound Top 100 Greatest Tours of All Time

"I saw them on tour."

Five words that nearly every music fan has uttered. 

Seeing a live performer on tour forever links both artist and fan to a particular venue, on a particular date, in a certain moment in time. Sometimes, the tour has a special, personal meaning to the individual fan, like the first time seeing a show with a future spouse. In other instances, a concert tour transcends live events and is a cultural moment. 

Vivid Seats and Consequence of Sound explore the tours that were remarkable in quality, impact, influence or attendance. The deciding factor on how to rank and include tours? Asking ourselves, "Would we want to go back in time to check out this show if we had tickets?"

We limited each artist to just one tour, to promote inclusion and diversity, and strived to include tours of various genres and eras. The finished product captures memorable tours that hopefully all music fans can appreciate. 

100. OutKast - 2014 Reunion Tour (2014)

Not all iconic tours are flawless, as sometimes it’s their flaws that make them stand out. OutKast’s reunion in 2014 to celebrate their 20th anniversary started off shakier than everyone, including André 3000 and Big Boi themselves, had hoped: technical problems sparked, the audio was too quiet, and they cut material after losing track of time. But over the course of their massive reunion tour playing at more than 40 festivals worldwide, OutKast found their footing, transforming from an underwhelming reunion set to a highlight-laden performance remembered for its stacked setlist, culture commentary via André’s custom jumpsuits, and the energy the duo still brought out of one another after all of these years. – Nina Corcoran

99. Barbra Streisand - Barbra Streisand in Concert (1993-94)

By the ‘90s, there wasn’t much this EGOT-winning star of stage, studio, and screens of all sizes hadn’t achieved. However, the one triumph that had evaded Barbra Streisand was a successful tour. Pregnancy had cut a planned tour in the mid-‘60s down to a mere handful of shows, and stage fright had kept her away from performing ever since. It’s no surprise, then, that this long-anticipated tour set attendance records at each of its stops and resulted in a hit HBO special, a successful VHS release (later DVD), and a multi-platinum live album -- not to mention several subsequent tours. Let’s face it: as Yentl, Babs, or Greg Focker’s mother, Barbra is like butter. – Matt Melis

98. Lady Gaga - Born This Way Ball (2012-13)

Billed as an “electro-metal pop-opera” with openers like Zedd and The Darkness tacked on, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball was set to be a spectacle even before she hit the road. By embracing ‘80s camp, the self-love themes of the record, and tour-specific Versace outfits, Gaga used innovative stage installations like a medieval castle and a puppeteered horse to create a world all her own through which to relay her music. More than anything else, it was a tour marked by a rigorous routine full of strenuous dance movements -- moves so intense that she developed a break and labral tear of her right hip come the end, as if we couldn't already tell Gaga gives performances her all. – Nina Corcoran

97. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour (1974-75)

Few prog rock tours are as infamous as Genesis' jaunt in support of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the band's sixth studio album and last with Peter Gabriel as the lead singer. Equal parts fantasy and character development about an emasculated youth, the record's plot translated to the stage through a bizarre combination of grotesque costumes, hundreds of slides, and the largest drum kit ever used by Collins. Few things functioned as intended, be it the backdrops or the microphone pickups, which turned the tour into a legendary catastrophe-turned-spectacle. It’s so iconic that it’s routinely covered today (down to every last detail) by The Musical Box, a Genesis cover band that Gabriel himself donated instruments and set design pieces to so the tour can reach a new generation. –Nina Corcoran

96. Taylor Swift - The 1989 World Tour (2015)

If Taylor Swift is an icon who will go down in history, then the 1989 World Tour is what future generations will study to understand why. Apart from the casual 250.7 million dollars it brought in or the endless thinking pieces surrounding it, the 1989 World Tour stood out because of how Taylor Swift embraced her role as an artist intent on doing it up big while still creating a faux intimacy that fans in the nosebleed seats could enjoy. And for the final touch? Nearly every night of the tour, fans were surprised by casual guest appearances, including Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, Beck, John Legend, Lorde,  Mary J. Blige, Mick Jagger, St. Vincent, and more. No big deal. – Nina Corcoran

95. Tom Waits - Big Time Tour (1987)

Tom Waits had left his drunken piano lounge act long behind him by the mid-‘80s and stumbled into his alter ego of Frank O’Brien, a character he and wife Kathleen Brennan would both incorporate into his records and adapt for the stage. The Big Time shows captured those two worlds colliding. A loose narrative about Frank trying to break into show business connected a series of avant-garde performances, including the pencil-mustachioed Waits singing “Innocent When You Dream” in a bathtub and hammering on boiler room steam pipes during “16 Shells from a 30-Ought Six”. Not even when the footage got edited into the Big Time concert film did anything really make sense. However, it was a chance to see our favorite rain dog performing some of his finest material at the height of his quirky powers. --Matt Melis

94. Alanis Morissette - Can’t Not Tour (1995-96)

Oh, what a difference a few years can make. In 1991, Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette was opening on tour for Vanilla Ice and probably still best remembered in America for being one of dozens of childhood stars regularly slimed on Nickelodeon in the ‘80s. By 1995, she was touring what would become one of the biggest records of the decade, Jagged Little Pill, with the likes of fellow alt-rock stalwarts Our Lady Peace and future luminaries Radiohead opening. Looking back, those who caught Morissette’s Can’t Not Tour can safely say they saw the artist who solidified the place of women in ‘90s alternative rock truly coming into her own onstage. --Matt Melis

93. Depeche Mode - World Violation Tour (1990)

One of the most popular tours among Depeche Mode fans and electronic fans in general, the World Violation tour saw them kick off 1990 in style. The band's synthpop was at a musical peak, as was their energy. Live videos from the tour capture what it felt like to be there, from people's shrieking screams for the band at the start of songs to the mischievous air that hung during their stripped-down, acoustic renditions. Depeche Mode still sound strong today, but catching them during their peak in the middle of a tour fans still gush over is a bucket list for any synthpop-loving music obsessive. –Nina Corcoran

92. Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Tour (2015)

With each passing year, Florence + the Machine seem to thrive on life’s most daunting moments, and never was it more evident than during their tour in support of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Whether it was fearlessly taunting a lightning storm at Lollapalooza or lunging into the audience at indoor shows throughout the tour, Florence Welch showed the type of full-faced courage that fills the band's music with tangible flashes of life. Watching the band onstage, it was impossible not to feel her energy transmit to onlookers, encouraging them, too, to seize as much as possible out of life in any given chance. – Nina Corcoran

91. Against Me! and Mastodon - 2007 Spring Tour (2007)

The biggest difference between looking back on remarkable tours versus remarkable concerts is what the full package includes. Of all the punk tours of the 2000s, it’s hard not to look at this 2007 trek and wish you were there. Against Me! and Mastodon announced the co-headlining tour during critical points in both bands' careers, especially since it was just before Against Me! released their major label debut and after Mastodon made theirs. With equally beloved acts like Cursive, Planes Mistaken for Stars, and These Arms Are Snakes locked in as openers, it was a tour-de-force trip that still stands out today as the perfect storm of punk, no matter how old you would have been then. –  Nina Corcoran

90. The Flaming Lips - 2003 Summer Tour (2003)

The Flaming Lips have been weird for a very long time and have pushed the boundaries of live spectacle as much as, if not more than, any other band of their era. Whether it’s equipping fans with boom boxes, shooting lasers from giant hands, or frontman Wayne Coyne emerging from projections of giant glowing vaginas, the Lips put on a confetti-coated feast for the eyes like few others. Still, if we have to pick one tour, we have to go back to the purported beginnings of Wayne Coyne’s infamous hamster ball, which permits the smiling weirdo to visit his fans in bubble-boy style. If live music is all about reaching out and connecting with an audience, Coyne can be credited for finally improving on the classic crowd surf. --Matt Melis

89. Cher - Do You Believe? (1999-00)

Seeing the Goddess of Pop right after her commercial success exploded (yet again) would be one to brag about for the ages. On the Do You Believe? tour, Cher committed to being over the top, which meant dancing through a variety of costumes or playing into the vaudevillian tinge of her voice. Given this was right after "Believe" came out, which popularized Auto-Tune, and artists like Cyndi Lauper and Michael McDonald opened the shows, it was a tour that had plenty to remember it by, should you be lucky enough to get a ticket.  – Nina Corcoran

88. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me Tour (2010)

Though one could say Joanna Newsom continues to outdo herself in live settings today, the singer-songwriter and harpist outdid herself in 2010 while touring behind the triple-LP Have One on Me. The complex arrangements on the new album saw her performing more nuanced, in-depth material both instrumentally and vocally. This saw a growth spurt where Newsom brought a full band with her on tour to nail the orchestral-style parts, played at a handful of festivals, and performed four times on live late-night TV shows (somewhat of a rarity for the notoriously secretive artist). She rose to a new level of fame that was pulled off gracefully as expected -- even prompting a Simpsons sketch from Matt Groening himself.  –Nina Corcoran

87. Various Artists - Lilith Fair (1998)

Lilith Fair, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, struck an early victory for women’s inclusion in the modern touring industry. Frustrated that bills with multiple female acts were virtually impossible sells to promoters and radio stations, McLachlan decided to book her own tour. By the traveling fest’s second year, the lineup flexed an undeniable who’s who of talent, including eclectic acts ranging from Sinéad O’Connor and Liz Phair to Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott across three stages. Even more impressive than the bevy of talent was the fact that the tour raised more than 10 million dollars for charities in its successful short run. Right on. --Matt Melis

86. Odd Future - Golf Wang Tour 2011 (2011)

Rap collectives come and go, but Odd Future’s lasting effects were made to stand forever. The group’s 2011 tour was their first proper tour instead of a smattering of dates. Though Earl Sweatshirt was still nowhere to be found, it was essentially Odd Future in full form, goofing off onstage, flexing their cadences, and occasionally inciting so-called riots. It’s a moment in time where both the group and their fandom was becoming larger than life -- yet the group was still blissfully unaware of how huge they would all get in a few years, both as a unit and as individuals, with Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd tha Kid, and others rocketing upwards into successful solo careers. –Nina Corcoran

85. Nine Inch Nails - Fragility (1999-00)

Trent Reznor has been the most prominent face of industrial rock since the early 1990s. Despite a long line of revolving band members, the Nine Inch Nails frontman has always managed to push the live experience to its edges, creating a cathartic, communal experience for fans that owes as much to mud and sweat as it does to high-tech rock-show theatrics. And while every NIN fan will have their personal favorite, many would agree that Reznor and band were never tighter or more invested than on their Fragility Tour, which just so happened to feature a then virtually unknown band called A Perfect Circle opening on the 2.0 leg of the trek. So strange seeing Maynard in the daylight. -- Matt Melis

84. St. Vincent - Fear the Future Tour (2017-18)

What do you do when you’re one of the greatest guitarists of all time? You show off what you can do with and without a band. Instead of indulging her indie rock or manic solos of the past, Annie Clark leaned hard into her St. Vincent persona for Masseduction, her fifth studio album. While touring behind it, she upped the popstar ante with silicone outfits and flashy stage props, but decided to return to her humble roots, too. Clark used half of the tour as a way to give a solo show, performing older tracks with just her guitar and her voice, and then played newer songs with the help of a backing track. The other half of the tour, she brought her full band back to bring the new material to life with a bit of edge, proving she can do it all no matter how famous she is now 15 years deep into her career. –Nina Corcoran

83. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs Tour (2010-11)

When touring behind The Suburbs, Arcade Fire was at the perfect crossing point of the famous indie rock band it had become. Despite winning Album of the Year at the Grammys, Arcade Fire still performed with an exuberant, impassioned, almost amateaur energy that recalled their early years, the type of intense live delivery that suggested the band was leaving it all on the floor just for you, that very night, right before your eyes. Though they were on the road for hundreds of days, the members of Arcade Fire performed like they were bursting with passion, and the crowds felt similarly, as was evident with every audience member’s soaring jumps to “Ready to Start” and all those maxed-out sing-alongs to “Wake Up”. Arcade Fire was the band whose live shows spread like wildfire. In 2010, it finally glowed bright enough for everyone to notice. – Nina Corcoran

82. Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown Tour (1979)

The Bee Gees are one of those groups that has more lives than a cat. So, in hindsight, it’s not incredibly shocking that they turned to disco in the mid-’70s. But mix that new sound with one of the biggest films of the decade, Saturday Night Fever, and one of the world’s sexiest young stars, John Travolta, and not only did the Bee Gees pull disco off of life support, but they found themselves in the middle of a pop-culture moment that people still talk about today. To catch the brothers Gibbs in concert on the Spirits Having Flown Tour was to see the biggest act in the world at that time. And who can forget those skin-tight pants and spangled jackets? Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. -- Matt Melis

81. Public Enemy and Anthrax - Bring the Noise Tour - (1991)

Aerosmith and Run-DMC had already proven that hard rock and hip-hop could play nice together, but Anthrax and Public Enemy discovered what acts like Rage Against the Machine would soon learn: the politics of hip-hop and muscle of metal could amplify their already booming calls of injustice tenfold. After striking shrapnel on their joint cover of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”, Scott Ian and Anthrax took to the road alongside Chuck D’s crew, with each night culminating in the two acts joining each other onstage for the tour’s namesake jam. In an era of eclectic festivals and post-nu-metal, it may not seem so groundbreaking, but to bring these genres together 30 years ago absolutely busted down doors and changed how fans thought about different types of music. -- Matt Melis

80. The White Stripes - Elephant Tour (2003)

There's a boldness that comes with the territory of being a two-person band. That boldness swells in size when people realize just how powerful that can be -- powerful enough for the radio, even. Back in 2003, the White Stripes had just released Elephant and were in the midst of defining the garage rock revival. On the live stage, Jack and Meg White’s crunchy, loud, perfectly imperfect sound came stomping out, unabashedly messy and all the more charming because of it. There was a particular round of dates during this era, though, that stand extra tall in hindsight: their stretch with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs opening. It was a perfect combo of alt-rock come-ups with gusto-filled leaders that only seems more dreamy with age. – Nina Corcoran

79. Shania Twain - Come on Over Tour (1998-99)

Come on Over is one of those albums that hit at the perfect moment. As single after single climbed both country and mainstream charts, you were just as likely to hear Shania Twain blasting from a 16-year-old teen girl’s first car as a rugged pickup truck. Twain was the perfect blend of show woman, sex appeal, and girl power, which translated into a country-flavored pop show with crossover appeal that hadn’t been seen since Garth Brooks proved country and rock and roll belonged onstage together earlier that decade. To borrow from Ms. Twain, yes, that impresses us much. -- Matt Melis 

78. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening Tour (2010)

Dance music had a major glow-up moment in the 2000s, and the label DFA Records had a big hand in creating it. Few tours captured that glimmer of dancing under a disco ball quite like LCD Soundsystem's 2010 tour behind This Is Happening. For a handful of the dates, labelmates Hot Chip served as openers. While both acts are fun in their own right, having the bands perform back to back turned venues like The Fillmore into proper discotheques, where the spirit of live dance bands felt as palpable as ever (though maybe it was the sweat that was palpable, in hindsight). – Nina Corcoran

77. Paramore w/Tegan and Sara - Honda Civic Tour (2010)

Though it's very much a sponsored event (and in no way tries to hide it), the annual Honda Civic Tour is a blessing for pop, rock, and punk fans, especially kids who rarely get to see big acts in suburban areas because of age restrictions. For their 2010 edition, the series booked Paramore to headline the string of dates with Tegan and Sara supporting. It was a dream combo, as the bands were touring behind the newly released Brand New Eyes and Sainthood, respectively. It was two already popular acts in the middle of a career rise, both giving it their all to audiences who were already dying to see them. But perhaps more importantly, it was a bill stacked with powerful women, a first for the Honda Civic Tour and one that paved the way for other acts that followed. – Nina Corcoran

76. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree Tour (2017-18)

After the loss of his son in 2015, Nick Cave returned to the writing board to channel his devastation into Skeleton Tree, an aching record that's deeply personal because of both the details and the delivery from which he discusses it. When he and his band took the record on tour, it seemed like it may be too grim to work. But Cave turned a period of mourning into a universal acknowledgement of life moving on no matter what you choose to do. Songs that began quietly grew into a dark, rumbling experience, with Cave descending into the crowd as if he and the crowd became one. Unsurprisingly, it was a tour so moving that it was released as a concert film, ideally to capture what it felt like so others can experience it secondhand. – Nina Corcoran

75. Janelle Monáe - The Electric Lady Tour (2013)

By the time her second album dropped, it was nearly impossible to argue Janelle Monáe wouldn’t become a sensation. As a blend of pop, soul, rock, and hip-hop, the album showed how versatile Monáe was in creating music. Onstage, she proved how she was born to be an artist. Monáe’s live show on the tour was broken into parts, essentially like a Broadway play, complete with minor costume changes, narrative turns, and mood swings. It was the opportunity to watch an artist put on a fully immersive production that was parts story, groove, and liberation, and Monáe’s ability to do so this smoothly was a sign of what was to come. – Nina Corcoran

74. Aerosmith - Get a Grip Tour (1993-94)

Boston’s finest had run through all the emotions, sweet and otherwise, by the time their late-‘80s comeback catapulted them back to the top of the hard rock world. Suddenly, Aerosmith found themselves shifting millions of units, saturating the telly (along with Alicia Silverstone), and even making movie and late-night cameos as Wayne Campbell’s excellent favorite band. Along with this resurgence of fame came Aerosmith’s most ambitious arena tour yet, spanning a mindblowing 240 shows across 13 legs. To this day, the image of knock-knee frontman Steven Tyler, pursing the poutiest lips this side of Mick Jagger, spitting out debauched lines while playing hot potato with his scarved microphone stand remains one of the most iconic visuals in rock history. -- Matt Melis  

73. Beck - Guero Tour (2004-05)

Beck’s slow ascent upwards came after a string of unexpected hits. His songs skipped from bizarre folk to outlier rap to heavy rock and glitchy pop. With the release of Guero, his ninth studio album, Beck found a new string of singles -- like "E-Pro" and "Girl" -- to hook audiences with. And live, he could flaunt that wide range of material while flaunting why he is, more than anything else, a born performer. In touring behind Guero, Beck showed off his noodly dance moves, how well his '90s material had aged, and his ability to still feel cool as a dad. Just look at the setlists. “Girl” into “Beercan” into “Qué Onda Güero” into “Devils Haircut”? Tell me you wouldn't kill to see that live. – Nina Corcoran

72. Various Artists - Motortown Revue (1960s)

The Motortown Revue was a series of traveling lineups throughout the ‘60s that allowed Berry Gordy to package and showcase his talent at Motown to both the “chitlin’ circuit” and later on the world. At these events, fans could see established acts like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and James Brown supported by future stars like a teenage Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Temptations. Never has so much vocal talent been on one bill, and while some of these shows would be segregated (one show for whites and a separate one for blacks or the two groups partitioned off during the same performance), The Motortown Revue ultimately helped to break down racial boundaries at a critical time during the American civil rights movement. It’s a classic example of how dynamic music can bring people together from all walks of life. -- Matt Melis

71. Jawbreaker - 2018 Reunion Tour (2018)

For 10 solid years, punk fans and emo kids got to soak up the earnest talent that was Jawbreaker. After the band called it quits in 1996 following a fight, the possibility of a reunion not only seemed impossible, but was off the table according to band members -- a fact so certain that a twee rock band from New York named themselves Jawbreaker Reunion in jest. So cut to the worldwide shock when Jawbreaker revealed they were reuniting for Riot Fest and that other dates would later follow. During their reunion shows in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, Jawbreaker gave generations new and old the chance to hear their material live and sounding better than most everyone expected them to, too. – Nina Corcoran

70. Sufjan Stevens - Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice (2012)

Out of everything in his toiling discography, it’s arguably Sufjan Stevens’ yearly voyage into holiday music that makes him so intriguing. With two extensive Christmas box sets to his name, 2006's Songs for Christmas and 2012’s Silver & Gold, Stevens decided it was time to throw a special tour to play the material live. The short winter tour in intimate venues across the US ended with two nights at Bowery Ballroom mere hours before Christmas. Like Santa himself, Stevens packed every toy he could imagine: inflatable toys, excessive hats, neverending garland, and one giant wheel to be spun at shows to decide which traditional Christmas songs should be added to a setlist of original Christmas songs. Part jest, part celebration, and part familial love, it was an unforgettable tour that was as Sufjan as it gets. – Nina Corcoran

69. The Cure - The Prayer Tour (1989)

The Cure doesn't tour abroad often because of Robert Smith and Simon Gallup's fear of flying, which makes any trek to the US (by boat!) worth applauding. But when The Cure hit the States in support of Disintegration, it was an entirely different ordeal. Despite trying to do the opposite, The Cure became a stadium rock band, the band’s outside relationships fell apart, and they almost broke up. The sheer size of the audiences overwhelmed Smith. Yet, despite all of this, it's considered to be the band's best tour because they were peaking in popularity, the album's intense themes translated well live, and the hype that surrounded them lived up to the live version. It was a complicated ordeal, which, in the moment and in hindsight, only made it that much more desirable. – Nina Corcoran

68. Kanye West - The Yeezus Tour (2013)

What’s bigger than god? Kanye West, of course, but especially Kanye during the Yeezus era. On his first solo concert tour in five years, Kanye went hard amping up his own personality, mythos, and talent with a stage design that felt like a medieval quest for a self-declared deity. From the stone pyramids to the bedazzled face masks to the abundance of religious imagery, the Yeezus tour was a visual feast for one of Kanye’s strongest albums. Each concert was the backdrop for an impromptu (yet wholly expected) speech about motivation and perseverance. On top of it all, Kendrick Lamar was the opening support, though occasionally other greats like A Tribe Called Quest, Pusha T, and Travis Scott filled in his shoes. Not too shabby. – Nina Corcoran

67. Phish - Phish Destroys America (1997)

It’s hard to pick a single best Phish tour, especially if you’re a die-hard fan. But when scouring through live bootlegs from back then, the 1997 fall tour stands out because of how energized the jam band sounds -- and when it comes to Phish shows, it’s the energy in the air that can turn an already memorable performance into one that feels like magic. If you’re going to get people grooving to your work, you better up the funk, and Phish turned that knob way the hell up. This seminal, month-long run in the band's history is the tour that could turn the most oblivious listener into a cultish fan. Phish leveled up and it’s impossible to deny. Hence, the tour got its unforgettable nickname: Phish Destroys America. – Nina Corcoran

66. Joni Mitchell -- 1974 Tour (1974)

Joni Mitchell's 1974 tour of North America was the time and place to hear her songs spring to life exactly like how they sound on record, though traditionalists beware. Over a stretch of roughly three months, she brought a jazz and rock fusion to her sound with the help of a proper backing band -- a first for Mitchell, whose previous tours mainly consisted of her playing solo. Though most of the setlist centered around the recently released Court and Spark, it was a proper dive into her career and evidence of her influence to come: “Big Yellow Taxi”, “Both Sides Now”, “Blue”, “A Case of You”, and more. – Nina Corcoran

65. Paul Simon – The Graceland Tour (1987)

It’s difficult to believe, but Paul Simon’s career was running on fumes by the mid-‘80s. In truth, so was his creativity as a songwriter. Simon needed a new inspiration to take hold of him, and he found that muse in the traditional music of South Africa, which he would combine with pop to create Graceland, his best-selling album as a solo artist. While Simon’s project put him in some political hot water at the time due to issues of apartheid in South Africa, most critics and crowds around the world came to love these songs both on record and onstage, where Simon embraced the culture he had borrowed from by deferring to his fellow artists and sharing his own jubilant performance. Not only had Simon found his spark again in his mid-40s, but he had also turned the masses on to the worldbeat sound. – Matt Melis

64. Pearl Jam - Yield Tour (1998)

Some might equate Pearl Jam’s live show with a young, longhaired Eddie Vedder scaling stage scaffolding and leaping into a sea of denim and flannel. But it wasn’t until the 1998 Yield Tour that the frontman and his colleagues matured and settled into being the best touring band on the planet. With their valiant Ticketmaster battles behind them, a newfound sense of camaraderie, and Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron solidifying the band’s revolving spot behind the drum kit, Pearl Jam were finally able to commit to making each and every outing – be it an intimate show in their hometown of Seattle or under the stars at Wrigley Field – a night where anything could, and often does, happen. – Matt Melis

63. Diana Ross – Up Front Tour (1983)

Since she first asked, “Where did our love go?” as a Supreme, Diana Ross has been a national treasure. A diva with all of the talent and hustle but none of the ego, Ross hit the road in 1983, as she did most years, to promote her latest record, Up Front. The legendary tour, of course, gets best remembered for a single storm-shortened night in Central Park. As rain started to fall on the 450,000 in attendance at the concert – which was being broadcast worldwide and raising funds for a children’s park – Ross, in a tight, orange bodysuit, hair and robe gracefully blowing in the wind as rain ran down her face, addressed the crowd. “It took me a lifetime to get here,” she told them. “I’m not going anywhere.” For a woman who had spent her youth in the housing projects of Detroit, it acted, like so many of Ross’ performances, as a moment of triumph, defiance, and celebration. – Matt Melis

62. Alice Cooper – The Billion Dollar Babies Tour (1973-74)

Alice Cooper (aka The Godfather of Shock Rock) has been offering fans a dark and macabre stage show since the beginning of the ‘70s, which included the climax of a villainous Cooper being executed by an electric chair. However, his reign of onstage terror didn’t sink to its bloodiest depths until The Billion Dollar Babies Tour a couple years later. Those shows broke box-office records across the US previously held by The Rolling Stones as magician and skeptic James Randi introduced a series of gruesome stage effects, freakiest of all a guillotine beheading that put the “roll” in rock and roll. Everyone from KISS to Marilyn Manson owes Cooper a debt for losing his head like that. – Matt Melis

61. Yes - Close to the Edge Tour (1972-73)

It's impossible to get the original members of Yes in the same room together now, and it has been for quite a while. So catching them during their prime would've been a treat not just for their youthful dexterity to play complex parts, but for the general bond that could be felt onstage before bitterness took over. In 1972, Yes embarked on their greatest tour of all time: Close to the Edge. While it promoted the album, it also served as the backdrop for their next record, Yessongs, a live album that captured what it was like to hear them without studio gear tweaking things. Between the big hits, the delightful absurd prog solos, and the remarkable improvisations that came from these live renditions, it was a tour that’s revered for the vibe, the music, and the outstanding record it birthed as a result.  –Nina Corcoran

60. Neutral Milk Hotel - Reunion Tour (2013-15)

If you wait long enough, eventually the impossible happens. Neutral Milk Hotel, the scraggly indie rock band that influenced a sea of younger acts went from an obscure band whose legend grew through mixtapes and word of mouth during their hiatus, got back together again after 15 years to the delight of young fans everywhere. Though their comically large beards would suggest they'd been in hiding, the Neutral Milk Hotel crew seemed just as delightfully unhinged as their music always painted them as being, from the warped singing saw solos to the slightly out-of-key reckless hollers. The demand for more shows extended the reunion longer than anyone expected, a fever dream nobody wanted to end, but one we were lucky to have in reality at all.  – Nina Corcoran

59. Guns N’ Roses and Metallica - Stadium Tour (1992)

It’s difficult to imagine a better pairing. The most popular metal band of all time touring with the most popular metal band of that time. Throw in Faith No More, Body Count, Motörhead, and, um, Andrew Dice Clay as select openers, and what more could a metalhead want? Well, maybe a smoother operation for starters. While both bands put on legendary shows when healthy and present, that didn’t happen nearly enough across the 26 dates. Axl Rose suffered from throat issues, tardiness, and Axl being Axl throughout the tour, which culminated in rioting in Montreal when Guns N’ Roses called it quits early after Metallica had ended their set due to James Hetfield suffering severe burns from a pyrotechnic misfire. If nothing else, it all sounds extremely metal … maybe a little too metal, actually. – Matt Melis

58. The Eagles – One of These Nights Tour (1975)

Ah, this one’s for the dads. But, seriously, give the old man credit for this pick. Nobody did ‘70s soft rock better than the Eagles, which millions of album sales, a cool dozen classic rock radio staples, and a forest’s worth of fading ticket stubs all testify to. And maybe none of their tours warrants cracking open a nostalgic beer more than the One of These Nights Tour. The tour’s namesake album had just gone No. 1 (their first in a string of four chart-toppers) on the strength of Henley-Frey singles, and this would be the last time founding member Bernie Leadon would be a part of the band. It marked the zenith of the Eagles as a country-rock outfit, and many argue the band has never soared higher. – Matt Melis

57. Ozzy Osbourne - Diary of a Madman Tour (1981-82)

In their early days, Black Sabbath received a polarizing (but consistent) reaction in the States: adoration from fans and mehs from critics. (It always seems to take critics a little bit longer.) However, now that Sabbath has officially closed shop as of 2017 and Ozzy Osbourne insists his latest farewell (No More Tours II) will be his last extended goodbye, we find ourselves staring down the barrel of a potentially Ozzyless concert slate for the first time in decades. That terrible thought is enough to make us want to turn the page back to the Diary of a Madman Tour. Osbourne wasn’t in the healthiest state at the time, but who could resist being the proverbial flying rodent on the wall as Ozzy legendarily bit a dead bat thrown onstage (and had to subsequently get rabies shots) or went outlaw by donning his wife’s nightgown, getting smashed, and pissing on The Alamo? Come to think of it, that sounds like an episode of The Osbournes. Crazy, but that’s how it goes. – Matt Melis

56. Bob Marley and the Wailers -- Uprising Tour (1980)

Bob Marley might best be thought of as an ambassador: for reggae, his native Jamaica, Rastafarianism, and human rights. In fact, one thing you notice about Marley’s tours is that each one found him visiting places he had never played before. 1980’s Uprising Tour was the largest in Europe that year and saw Marley playing several new countries, including Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland. It would also be his last tour, as he would pass away from Melanoma only a few months after finishing the slate. Luckily, there’s plenty of footage of Marley’s final performances and message, including a sold-out stadium show that’s still considered to be the largest concert in Italian history. -- Matt Melis

55. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man Tour (1984)

After fighting for much of his young career to be viewed as a rock and roller, Billy Joel did the damndest thing in the early ‘90s: he stopped writing rock songs. And while his fans have had many opportunities to see him play his old hits since then and even perform face-to-face with Elton John dozens of times, footage from the Innocent Man Tour makes us long for, or at least look back fondly on, the days when rock and roll was, well, still rock and roll to Billy Joel. Whether it’s slapping away at his piano, leaping about the stage, or swinging his mic stand around his head like a propeller, we’ll always love that piano man who was more rock and roll than he ever got credit for. – Matt Melis  

54. The Police - Synchronicity Tour (1983-84)

In 1983, just before their dissolution, The Police became the “Biggest Band in the World” thanks to the success of Synchronicity. On the band’s fifth and last studio album, The Police showed their skills not just as musicians, but as a trio of outstanding musicians who could find the best possible way to fuse their ideas together. Live, the band played their greatest hits and every passage in between, nailing their sets. It was The Police in their prime era at their highest point, before drama got in the way. And there to flesh things out even more was a star-studded list of openers like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, R.E.M., and Stevie Ray Vaughan. – Nina Corcoran

53. Little Richard – 1962 European Tour (1962)

By the early ‘60s, Little Richard (born Richard Penniman) had traded in rock and roll for gospel. It was only because his records were still selling overseas that the founding father of rock agreed to take Sam Cooke and tour Europe in ’62. The audience responses to Penniman’s high-energy show were so intense that word spread, and Brian Epstein, manager of a young band called The Beatles, begged for his act to get to open for Little Richard on some of his dates. The experience turned into a masterclass for the future Fab Four, with Penniman teaching them his songs and showing a young Paul McCartney how to sing like him. Mick Jagger has also cited Little Richard’s electric shows as an inspiration. So, not only did Penniman’s comeback remind his fans that he had once shaped rock and roll, but he directly influenced the two most popular bands of the ‘60s. Good golly, Miss Molly! – Matt Melis

52. Various Artists -- Warped Tour (1995)

Warped Tour was the swan song of a generation bent on flipping off the status quo. Originally started as an alternative rock tour -- but, in its second year, quickly entering the pop punk world, where it would stay until its end -- Warped Tour was the festival that did because it could and allowed thousands of preteens to learn they could do the same. While it's hard to pick a single best year, as Warped Tour turned into an all-ages space for kids and adults alike to embrace the music they loved regardless of stereotypes that may follow, it was the festival's first year that truly would have been a sight to see. No Doubt, Deftones, L7, Quicksand, and Sublime all performed, touring the states with no idea of what a massive footmark they were leaving, one that would eventually widen to resemble a bigger beast altogether.  – Nina Corcoran

51. Various Artists - The Grindcrusher Tour (1989)

Back in the late '80s, grind and death metal were busy being born. Napalm Death's 1988 album knocked Sonic Youth out of the No. 1 UK independent chart position and proved the genre was a force to be reckoned with, and everyone got the message by the time the Grindcrusher UK tour started. Though it was a short seven-day tour, it saw the soon-to-be forebearers of the genre joining forces: Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, and Carcass. It was a scene being born back then, and it’s a legendary moment now. Commercially viable and artistically varied, grindcore earned itself the space to be taken seriously and grow on that tour, eventually developing into the monolith it is today.  – Nina Corcoran

50. Roger Waters - The Wall Live (2010-13)

The hype surrounding The Wall Live could give anyone shivers. It was the first time The Wall would be performed in its entirety by any member of Pink Floyd since Waters performed the album live in Berlin 21 July 1990! He was working on new graphics! The stage setup was ambitious! And yet, when it finally hit the road, Roger Waters' tour managed to be even better in person than any press could've described. From the gargantuan inflatable pig to the massive wrap-around graphics, or from the use of fan photos of loved ones lost in wars to the moving choirs backing him up onstage, Waters did it up big. So big, in fact, that as of 2013, the tour holds the record for the highest-grossing tour by a solo musician, surpassing Madonna. – Nina Corcoran

49. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours Tour (1977)

Yes, we can look back to a time before Lindsey Buckingham was fired from Fleetwood Mac. To a less confusing time, when both weren’t out on tour … separately. That doesn’t mean we can take you back to a harmonious time in band history, though. In fact, the Rumours Tour takes us back to not only the band’s most successful years but also its most tumultuous. As the album and its handful of singles climbed the charts and took the world by storm, the real storm was brewing backstage as romantic partnerships in the group fell apart. Maybe that pain fueled the music. We can’t say for certain. What we do know is rarely has a pop rock band sounded so good and held so many audiences in the palm of their hand. – Matt Melis 

48. Whitney Houston - The Moment of Truth World Tour (1987-88)

Only a few voices like Whitney Houston’s come along each generation. Voices that feel like forces of nature that need tamed just enough to fit into the confines of a song. Though we lost her much too early, millions across the world had the chance to witness Houston’s gift on journeys like The Moment of Truth World Tour. While artists like Madonna doubled down on creative costumes and Janet Jackson would go on to make her shows all about electric dance routines, Houston eschewed much of that showmanship in favor of wowing audiences with her musical creativity: improvising, scatting with her band, or adding jazzy or gospel inflections to her vocal arrangements. The moment of truth at a Whitney Houston concert came every time a note passed her lips. – Matt Melis 

47. Blink-182 and Green Day - Pop Disaster Tour (2002)

Pop punk is as serious or as childish as you want to choose to see it. The kings of the genre shared the stage back in 2002, though, proving it had rightly emerged as a force to be reckoned with. While both acts put on good sets, it was Green Day whose live show remained consistent and invigorating, whereas Blink’s tour prior to this one was their tightest so far. In that, the Pop Disaster Tour essentially led to Green Day’s reprise. By proving they could outdo Blink-182 in a live comparison, Green Day stood out before release American Idiot shortly after and securing their spot as the pop punks who aged well and had fun doing it. – Nina Corcoran

46. Run-DMC and Beastie Boys - Together Forever Tour (1987)

In 1986, Run-DMC broke hip-hop stereotypes when their rap rock take on Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a hint of what was to come for the genre and the group themselves. They brought the squawkish guys in Beastie Boys on tour in support of Raising Hell, only to bring them out again for Together Forever, a tour that showed not only that rap deserved to blow up, but that young rappers did, too. All three members of Run-DMC were 22 years old and all three members of Beastie Boys were between 21 and 23. It was the era of young adults claiming their thrones in hip-hop, and seeing that moment in history live was (and still is) a coveted thing. – Nina Corcoran

45. U2 - The War Tour (1982-83)

There’s no science to picking out the best tours, especially when some of the artists on this list have more great tours than you can count on a single hand. U2 certainly fit that category, and the choice is made all the more difficult because they’re the type of band that’s evolved so much over the years. Still, if we can only revisit one U2 tour, it would be 1983’s War Tour, before many of their best-known hits came to dominate radio and prior to Bono becoming a slicked-back, leather-clad god who wears sunglasses indoors. No matter how big the crowds would get or how elaborate the stage setups would one day become, there’s still something utterly mesmerizing about the band, as captured forever in their Red Rocks performance on that tour. It’s the energy and spirit of a band just scratching their surface. In a sense, they still haven’t found what they’re looking for, but are well ahead of schedule in their quest. – Matt Melis

44. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - The So Far Tour (1974)

Getting along doesn’t always make for the best music. Ask Stephen Stills and Neil Young, who have spent much of their Hall of Fame careers either playing in bands with each other or quitting them. The most infamous example might be when Young’s bus diverged from Stills’ while on tour, and Old Shakey sent his quitting papers to Stills via telegram. Ouch. But all the in-band tension couldn’t keep Stills and Young from burying the hatchet long enough to join David Crosby and Graham Nash on a 31-gig trek in 1974. The run would not only feature openers like Joni Mitchell, Santana, and The Beach Boys, but would also act as a prototype for the massive stadium tours that would come to dominate subsequent decades. While the group sometimes cringed at trying to harmonize over stadium-ready guitars and sound systems, their mix of acoustic and electric sets are legendary and could go on for more than three hours. Again, a lot of time to spend onstage with someone you can’t stand. – Matt Melis 

43. Patti Smith - 2005 Tour (2005)

Don't overlook the power of a comeback, though, to be fair, Patti Smith never truly faded out to merit a proper comeback. In 2005, Smith's live performances were bigger and better for a range of reasons. For starters, it was the tour that gave us Live at Montreux, her first-ever concert film, capturing how powerful her delivery is onstage for anyone to see. It was also the year she curated Meltdown Festival, where she performed Horses in its entirety for the first time ever, giving fans a transformative experience. And from that came Horses/Horses, the recorded live set from the festival, including a cover of The Who's "My Generation", to blast from your stereo, a reminder that Patti Smith's longevity and relevance will never fade, nor will her goosebump-raising voice lose its strength. – Nina Corcoran

42. Garth Brooks – The Garth Brooks World Tour (1993-94)

To non-country fans, barrel-chested Garth Brooks might be little more than that guy who sang jingles for Dr. Pepper in the early 2000s. Ironically, Brooks did more than almost any country star to open the genre up to rock fans, especially as a live performer. Each stop on his 1993-94 world tour featured the likable cowboy rising up amid pyrotechnics, leaping from platforms around the stage, and even soaring across the venue high above his audience. Brooks was the first 10-gallon megastar to prove that you could be a little bit country by day and a lot of rock and roll each night onstage. – Matt Melis

41. A Tribe Called Quest - 2017 Summer Tour (2017)

Though they've reunited intermittently over the years for one-off performances, it was A Tribe Called Quest's unexpected album We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service -- their first LP in 18 years, during the recording of which Phife Dawg passed away -- that revitalized their music and their legend at large. A Tribe Called Quest finally did a tour of sorts: the 2017 summer festival route, including Pitchfork Music Festival, FYF Fest, Panorama, and more. With multiple tributes to Phife Dawg, moving pauses where Q-Tip and Jarobi White stood off to the side for Phife's verses to be played over the speakers while his image flashed on screen, and '90s hits being sung back to them, word for word, from audiences of all ages, the tour felt like a moment solidifying their place in history: right now, back then, and forever more. – Nina Corcoran

40. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation Tour (1989)

Stardom runs deep in the Jackson family. Just over a year after her older brother Michael had rewritten every rule for what a pop tour – or a music tour in general – could be, kid sister Janet Jackson set out on her own record-setting tour. While it wouldn’t be as ambitious as future programs like the narrative-based Velvet Rope Tour, Jackson’s Rhythm Nation Tour saw the 23-year-old wow audiences with a virtually nonstop 80 minutes of dancing that many critics say rivalled her brother’s. All told, the tour, to this day, remains the most successful debut tour by any recording artist. Take that, Tito! – Matt Melis

39. Blur, Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus and Mary Chain - Rollercoaster Tour (1992)

There are some tours you would drop serious dough on in the moment, and ones you would drop even more money on today, if only for a nosebleed seat. That's what the Rollercoaster Tour was for britpop obsessives and shoegaze fans. The co-headlining tour saw Blur, Dinosaur Jr., The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine play 11 dates in the UK. The Jesus and Mary Chain's Jim Reid curated the tour in hopes of proving independent rock artists could be worthy of bigger venues, using Lollapalooza as a blueprint for how to do it. With each band performing 45-minute sets with no encores, it was a fair and evenly distributed event, showing no bias except for maybe who could play the loudest each night. Those who saw it had no idea they were seeing My Bloody Valentine on their last tour ever, as the band chose not to play again until reuniting over 16 years later in 2008. Talking about a rollercoaster of emotions. – Nina Corcoran

38. Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life Tour (2015)

To hear Stevie Wonder is to hear what it feels like to smile from the joy of being alive. The iconic soul singer has a youthfulness to him that seems dependent upon gratitude, something Wonder has never been in short supply of. Though he's been touring ever since he was a preteen, Wonder's live shows have only gotten better with age, which explains why his recent Songs in the Key of Life Tour was so remarkable. At the age of 64, Wonder brought more exuberance and glee to the stage than anyone could have expected, so much so that he chose to add over 20 more dates to the tour to keep it going. Performing every song from an iconic album like this one isn't easy, especially when there are 22 songs to play, not to mention other hits and singles from your catalog. Wonder had you fooled, though, as the shows lasted over three hours without a single dip in energy or mood. – Nina Corcoran

37. Simon and Garfunkel -- Summer Evening Tour (1981-83)

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were destined to sing together. Unfortunately, the magic that’s yielded some of the finest folk albums and live moments of all time has often taken a backseat to the duo’s clashing personal differences. Still, it felt like the odd couple were truly homeward bound when they ended their 10-year separation to play before half a million in their now legendary Concert at Central Park. The success of that one-off night in September ‘81 led Simon & Garfunkel to put harmonies before harmony and embark on what many consider their finest tour ever. – Matt Melis

36. Tina Turner -- Break Every Rule World Tour (1987)

The history of the music industry tells us that you’re supposed to retire in your mid-40s, not make a comeback and set out on your most ambitious tour yet. Luckily, nobody told that to Tina Turner, or at least she didn’t pay them any attention if they did. Divorced from Ike Turner and with their glory days together well in her rearview mirror, Turner not only reignited her career with a series of energetic tours in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but she actually found her star burning brighter than ever. The Break Every Rule World Tour took place slap-dab in the middle of Tina Fever and saw The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll strutting her big hair, trademark legs, and powerhouse pipes all over the world to more fans than she could’ve ever imagined. In fact, no tour by a female artist has ever drawn more fans. -- Matt Melis

35. AC/DC - Highway to Hell Tour (1979-80)

When Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning in early 1980, Brian Johnson stepped in a couple months later, and the band didn’t miss a beat. That’s why the Bon or Brian debate has always seemed pointless. AC/DC didn’t so much replace Bon as they went out and found another brother with the same electric current pumping through his veins. In many ways, the Highway to Hell Tour can be seen as Bon, on his last tour, handing the mic to Brian to continue down that satanic highway. The band was already at full force, with their rock and roll ethos well established and Angus Young’s signature schoolboy outfit and trademark hop across stage already iconic rock visuals. The veteran band had finally made it that “long way to the top” and were reveling in every last second of it. – Matt Melis 

34. Elton John - 1974 North American Tour (1974)

Elton John is taking his time and sparing no expense on his current farewell tour. And who can blame him? The road has been a way of life for John since the late ‘60s, and very few, if any, have struck as many memorable poses as the piano rocker along the way. Perhaps no tour better defined Elton John than his 1974 North American Tour. With the songs from new hit record Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at his disposal, John, already balding, sporting huge sunglasses, and dressed in one outrageous glam costume (plenty of sequins and feathers) or another, turned what could’ve been polite piano recitals into full-blown rock revivals. Luckily, he’s getting to follow that Yellow Brick Road one last time. It’s the circle of life, folks. -- Matt Melis

33. Neil Young with Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps Tour (1978)

There’s no denying that Neil Young is a dynamic live performer. It’s just a question of which version of Young reigns supreme onstage: the solo folkie, the ‘&Y’ sometimes added to CSN, or maybe the grunge godfather backed by Crazy Horse. There’s a case to be made for each – and recent archival releases from the ‘70s remind us that Young needed nothing but a guitar and a mic to mesmerize – but 1978’s Rust Never Sleeps Tour with Crazy Horse offered the best of all worlds. Young packed plenty of new material into the shows, which he divided into two parts: a solo acoustic set and an electric set with Crazy Horse. Many of these performances would find their way onto his classic Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust albums, with Young’s aggressive playing alongside Crazy Horse having a direct influence on both punk rock and the future alternative scene. Hey, hey. My, my. – Matt Melis

32. Kraftwerk - Autobahn Tour (1975)

It’s not that the German band Kraftwerk were ignored in their heyday; in fact, they were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music. It’s just that in no way was their following at the time commensurate with their impact on the music world. The band’s Autobahn Tour configuration has gone down in history as their classic touring lineup. Following Autobahn’s chart success overseas in 1974, the group visited the States, Canada, and the UK for the first time the following year. Many fans got to hear that “robot pop” sound live for the first time, not to mention see instruments like synthesizers, vocoders, and homemade electronic percussion devices stand in for standard rock and roll gear. While it may have been unusual for its time, everyone from Depeche Mode to Björk have cited the band as a major influence. -- Matt Melis

31. Paul McCartney - Out There Tour (2013-15)

No musical artist appears on the average bucket list in concert form more than Paul McCartney. The legendary Beatle has everything going in his favor from the start and yet continues to outdo himself and the expectations set for him every time he hits the stage. On the sprawling Out There tour, the average setlist included 39 songs, a smattering of superstar cameos, and some comedic asides from Paul. Notable, but, sure, normal for McCartney's lively stamina. But the tour saw him try to outdo himself with a smile once more, whether that was digging out songs that had been untouched for nearly 30 years, like "Long Tall Sally", or touring Asia for the first time in 13 years (and treating them to "Another Girl", marking the first time a Beatle ever played the song live). At 73 years old, he was the inspiration for youthful elders everywhere. – Nina Corcoran

30. KISS - Destroyer Tour (1976)

KISS didn’t invent the outrageous stage show or become the first rock band with an insanely devoted following, but they sure as hell ran with those elements. Credit Gene Simmons and co. for understanding that it’s just rock and roll, stupid! Some dirty riffs, a paint can of makeup, a lot of tongue, and a little debauchery all go a long way, and the KISS Army has followed them every step of that journey (sometimes in platform boots). While the shows would become even more of a spectacle by the band’s next tour – a rocket-shooting guitar, you say – most agree that the Alive II Tour (and the couple tours before it) marked the perfect mix of KISS’ mayhem and metal mastery. By this time, the band was not only playing dream venues like Madison Square Garden and Budokan, but selling them out multiple nights. Gene Simmons was Uncle Sam, and he wanted YOU in his army. – Matt Melis  

29. The Jacksons - Victory Tour (1984)

It’s understandable that The Jackson 5 and The Jacksons are treated as footnotes in Michael Jackson’s career. But let’s not forget that MJ became a star as the focal point of these family-based groups long before he was dubbed the King of Pop. Jackson had hits, set touring records, and even played before royalty with his siblings. On the Victory Tour, his last stint as a Jackson, he actually performed his solo albums Off the Wall and Thriller with the group and stunned the world with his moonwalk, single glove, and sequined jacket – trademarks he’d take with him into his solo career. While it’s true he wasn’t quite yet the King of Pop, catching him on the Victory Tour could definitely be considered seeing him a mere “shamone” or two away from his throne. – Matt Melis

28. Björk – Biophilia Tour (2011-13)

For her seventh tour ever, Björk turned her abstract, Grammy-nominated album Biophilia into a visual representation of the nature, technology, and music crossroads that it aimed to explore. While Björk never shies away from absurdist outfits, powerful live accompaniment, or creative stage designs on tour, it was the Biophilia tour that saw her questioning how to turn the invisible physicality of music into a visible one. A series of instruments were created and brought on tour to specifically illustrate the technological aspect of music. On a circular stage placed in the middle of the room, Björk worked instruments like a midi-controlled gamelan-celesta hybrid and a giant pendulum-harp that used the Earth's gravitational pull to create musical patterns, essentially turning her set into a artful take on factory work. She reworked older material to fit the aesthetics of the show as well, using a Tesla coil in "Declare Independence" or a pipe organ to play "Joga.". For an artist constantly reaching beyond our collective imagination, Björk outdid herself in a way few could have expected or understood, even while watching it unfold before their eyes. – Nina Corcoran

27. Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues Tour (1983)

The year was 1983. It was the year of the big suit, a year that lives on in cartoonish costume design fame. Looking unassuming and average, the members of Talking Heads took the stage on their Speaking in Tongues tour like any normal passersby. Watching them turn into the geniuses they would become was surreal, a vision of genuine artistic joy and collaboration. David Byrne wiggled like a nervous, fidgeting, unsure nerd. Tina Weymouth rocked back and forth with her bass, a sneaky grin on her face. Chris Frantz was grinning modestly while Jerry Harrison looked onwards. The band turned into nine-piece rock band-turned-funk group, amping the stakes up to the point where everyone would get out of their seats to dance along -- at shows and in movie theaters, when some of the last tour dates were filmed to create the concert documentary Stop Making Sense. It was a transformation of human expectations, stage design, and low-to-high delivery, thankfully captured on film for preservation. Because little did fans know, this would wind up being the band’s final big tour before eventually breaking up. – Nina Corcoran

26.  Nirvana – Nevermind Tour (1991-92)

Selling out sure does sound good. After hitting it big time with their second studio album, Nirvana took their grunge to the mainstream level, shifting from modest clubs to arenas and festivals. What began in August of 1991 stretched into a worldwide tour until the end of February in 1992. While seeing the band break big is incredible on its own, the fact that a handful of remarkable bands shared the stage with them on the tour makes it even more iconic in retrospect: Sonic Youth, Melvins, Hole, Mudhoney, Bikini Kill, Shonen Knife, The Breeders, and more. Nirvana would go on to play more dates the rest of the year, but it was that initial breakthrough, the turning point of fame encroaching before the mass hysteria ensued, that provided the band with a peak scenario to see them in. – Nina Corcoran

25. Otis Redding - 1967 European Tour (1967)

Like many on this list, especially artists of color during the American civil rights movement, Otis Redding toured as an ambassador as much as a soul singer. 1966 marked the first time that Stax Records – the spiritual home of Memphis Soul – had sent its artists out on tour, and Redding’s 1967 European Tour met with ecstatic fanfare six months later. It would be one of the first times that Redding, the equivalent of a powerful locomotive as a performer, would look out and see predominantly white faces in one of his audiences. Some of the best moments can be found on his acclaimed Otis Redding: Live in Europe album, and it would be only three months later at Monterey Pop that Redding would largely wash away the color line at a music festival in his own country. – Matt Melis 

24. Led Zeppelin - North American Tour 1968/1969 (1968-69)

It’s telling that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page can’t leave their homes without being asked about the chances of a Led Zeppelin reunion. It tells us that reporters and fans can’t take a hint, but it also reminds us that Zeppelin, for a time, were as big as any band in the world. Like many iconic bands before and after them, critics didn’t initially get Zeppelin, panning their records as derivative and unimaginative. That’s what makes the group’s earlier tours so intriguing. They had something to prove, and their 1968 North American tour saw them go from supporting bands like Vanilla Fudge, Country Joe & the Fish, and Iron Butterfly to headlining the very same tour, culminating in concerts like one in Boston where the band transformed one album’s worth of material and a handful of popular covers into more than four hours that  left everyone spellbound. – Matt Melis

23. Ramones - 1976 US Tour (1976)

Ramones spent their first two years as a band playing almost exclusively in New York City and, more often than not, at the legendary CBGB. By the time they branched out in 1976 to play new venues in other cities, their reputation had to have proceeded them. But still, to see them for the first time had to be wild: a gang of four delinquents in black leather jackets, Joey looming like a giant, Dee Dee barking out the count, and that wall of noise hitting an audience right on the chin. And two minutes later, it starts all over again. As Joey once said, “People looked at us like we were from Mars.” If the band couldn’t play a single note, their appearance alone could have influenced a generation. “Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” the band famously get asked in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Maybe not, but soon enough everyone else did. – Matt Melis

22. Beyoncé – The Formation Tour (2016)

For half a year, Beyoncé didn't just run the world; the world ran around her. She announced her tour shortly after performing at the Super Bowl that winter and tickets sold out -- without anyone knowing what was to come. Four days before the first date of the tour, Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a surprise visual concept album complete with a 65-minute film and 12 staggering songs. Suddenly, the stakes for her festival rocketed upwards, despite already starting a frenzy beforehand. While the tour's production was notable, particularly it's rotating LED cube dubbed "the Monolith," it was Beyoncé's ever-improving talent that stole the show. Though she's already blessed with one of the all-time greatest voices of any artist, Beyoncé's choreography, stamina, and ability to never lose her breath was astounding. It was the tour to watch an artist on top of the world prove she still, somehow, was getting better and better. –Nina Corcoran

21. The Rolling Stones – American Tour 1969 (1969)

Oh, to be a rock legend in your prime. The Rolling Stones' 1969 tour was one of the first legendary rock events. With drug charges in the past, the Stones finally hopped across the pond to play sold-out arenas, showing their growth as adults and as professional musicians. It was the tour that saw them flood Madison Square Garden, the tour that represented a new financial model for rock acts, and the tour that produced one of the first live bootleg recordings (the second concert in Oakland, for those who don't know). The Rolling Stones knew that rock was ready for melodic pop choruses, and their first massive stadium tour of the states had everyone singing along -- inside and outside of the stadium. – Nina Corcoran

20. Radiohead – In Rainbows Tour (2008-09)

The best Radiohead album, the best Radiohead tour, and the best Radiohead mood? Talking to Radiohead fans about their favorite moments in the band’s career is like pouring a bucket of fresh food into a pool of piranhas. While preferences will vary, at least everyone can agree: the In Rainbows tour was a moment of magic in real life. The magic of a free-to-download album, dazzling hanging light strips, one of the most iconic Bonnaroo performances of all time, and new material that they worked out live onstage all felt surreal. For the first time since 1994, Radiohead performed in Mexico, and they made their live debut in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile come the end of the tour. Critical darlings like Grizzly Bear and Bat for Lashes were tapped as openers, and Kraftwerk opened in Latin America. It was the tour where a swatch of die-hard fans who would follow them on tour intentionally decided to fall off, certain Radiohead could never top a tour like this again. – Nina Corcoran

19. Various Artists - Def Jam ‘87 (1987)

Def Jam in the mid-‘80s can be compared to Motown in its heyday. Sure, there were other labels putting out hit singles and records, but no other could boast a stable of hip-hop talent like Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin’s Def Jam. The trick became how to showcase all that talent, not to mention a style of music still very much in its infancy, and present it to the world. Their solution also mimicked Motown’s strategy throughout the ‘60s. The Def Jam ’87 tour packaged seminal hip-hop acts like Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Erik B. & Rakim, and elder statesman Whodini in a revue-style format that left no doubt that there was a new type of music on the block. Consider it America’s belated response to the British Invasion. – Matt Melis

18. Iggy and the Stooges - 1970 Summer Tour (1970)

Iggy Pop is another one of those rock stars who has had nine lives. One of them included a pair of failed albums with The Stooges to start their careers – a beginning so disappointing (and drug-addled) that the band parted ways for a time. It’s funny how history tells a slightly different story, though. While it’s true that Iggy and the Stooges failed to sell records early on, it’s also documented that the unpredictable outfit put on some of the most intense shows anyone had ever seen. The habitually topless Pop became famous for his reckless frontman antics, slithering about onstage, smearing his body with hamburger meat or peanut butter, and even cutting himself with shards of glass. Some even claim he invented the stage dive during these years. Pop and the Stooges would go on to get their due as a seminal proto-punk outfit, but their largest impact may just be Pop demonstrating the lengths a frontman could go to connect to an audience. – Matt Melis

17. Daft Punk – Alive 2006/2007 (2006-07)

Daft Punk have existed for 26 years now, yet the French electronic duo have only toured two times. The first tour in 1997 was hyped but still small, as they had yet to make it big. Almost a decade later, they booked a proper string of dates from 2006 into 2007 and got busy creating what would retroactively be named the Alive 2006/2007 tour. Just like the music itself, the tour was a dazzling, repetitive, blisteringly loud spectacle, pushing each person to sensory overload. With eight digital sources acting as video streams, LED screens projected various video and lighting effects that the band could add effects to on the fly. Sitting atop their glowing pyramid, Daft Punk seemed to be the total opposite of the crowd: rigid, unreadable, and robotic compared to the audience's freeform, blissful, sweaty dancing. The tour's live album, Alive 2007, won Daft Punk a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album afterwards. It came as no surprise. After all, Alive was the dance party everybody wanted to see and the tour everyone regrets not going to, even if nabbing tickets was nearly impossible anyway.  – Nina Corcoran

16. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon Tour (1972-73)

Concertgoers can be a tough crowd to please. On one hand, we love to brag when we experience something -- like a song premiere -- at our tour stop that others can’t lay claim to. Conversely, if the same band neglects their back catalog, we can feel cheated on that account. However, Floyd fans who saw the first leg of The Dark Side of the Moon Tour got a preview they’ll never forget (and one the rest of the universe will forever be insanely jealous of). The first leg promoting the album began some 14 months before The Dark Side... was released and found the band previewing arguably the greatest album of all time in its near-completed form for their fans. By the time the ‘73 leg started, the album was already a smash, and the band had blown up to stadiums and arenas rather than more intimate venues like theaters. Both legs were out of this world, but let’s face it: one just makes for a slightly cooler story to tell the grandkids -- Matt Melis

15. Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan World Tour 1966 (1966)

Not everyone was thrilled when Bob Dylan chose to “go electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. In fact, when his band left after a shortened set, they received a chorus of boos. The truth is that many of the same fans who had championed Dylan, revered his songwriting, or looked to him as the voice of their generation thought of plugging in as a waste of talent and a desecration of his message. It wasn’t an act of innovation in their eyes; it was an act of betrayal. When Dylan and his backing band, The Hawks (later known as The Band), set out on their world tour in 1966, the controversy followed them. While Dylan’s acoustic sets were welcomed, each night’s subsequent electric set received its fair share of hecklers and scathing ink from the press. The most famous instance came between songs at a concert in Manchester. Someone in the audience shouted out “Judas!”, prompting Dylan to turn to his band and order them to “play it fucking loud.” The Hawks obliged, and rock and roll has never been the same since. -- Matt Melis

14. Kate Bush – The Tour of Life (1979)

Pop wouldn't be weird without the help of Kate Bush, and that includes her aura on the live stage. The Tour of Life was her first-ever concert tour and lasted just over one month. While it's easy to point to the mystical vibe of the tour with its use of miming, magic, and readings during her costume changes, it's her choreography that changed the course of history. Kate Bush was adamant about dancing as she sang, using movements that were broad and wide, the type that would get you tangled in a cord should you try. So her sound engineer Martin Fisher used a wire clothes hanger to create a wireless headset microphone. It was the first time wireless mics would ever be used onstage. From the opening scene where her shadow danced across a curtain during “Moving” to her ballet leaps through dry ice fog in the “Wuthering Heights” encore, Bush's tour was the iconic shift for weirdos everywhere who knew their vision was worth pursuing, no matter what obstacles get in the way. – Nina Corcoran

13. Queen - The Magic Tour (1986)

Rarely do we know at the time that we’re witnessing history in the making. We also don’t always know that a goodbye is taking place. Both occurred during Queen’s Magic Tour. The 26 dates across Europe marked the last tour with bassist John Deacon and singer Freddie Mercury. In the case of Mercury, they would be his final shows ever due to being diagnosed with AIDS the following year. The footage that exists of the tour shows a rock band still in its prime with Mercury playfully teasing the crowd in between showing off some of the greatest pipes in rock history. Queen had no idea that their world was about to change forever, but they certainly left it all on the stage. – Matt Melis

12. The Clash – Combat Rock Tour (1982)

Without The Clash, punk may have struggled to stop taking itself so seriously, especially when it comes to commercial fame. The British band was blamed for selling out with the success of Combat Rock, still their best-selling album to date, though it would go on to show what new wave could and should do: merge influences of all kinds. From the reggae twists to the pop choruses, The Clash were changing the course of history, and the band illuminated it live on the stage. Musically, they seemed to have it all together, but the band was months away from falling apart. On the eve of their UK tour, Joe Strummer went missing as a publicity stunt-turned-actual scare. He wound up growing a beard, hiding in Paris, and running the city's marathon incognito, causing the band to cancel their UK dates but pull him back aboard in time for the US tour stretch with their ideal catalog ready to go. It was a hint of what was to come before infighting became the norm, the band broke up, and Strummer eventually passed away. – Nina Corcoran

11. Various Artists - Lollapalooza (1992)

While Lollapalooza might draw thousands of people to Chicago each year, the original idea was that the traveling alternative festival would be rolling through a town near you. Originally conceived by Perry Farrell as a farewell tour and victory lap for his band, Jane’s Addiction, the festival hasn’t travelled since its one-year comeback in 2003. Still, few tours capture the spirit of ‘90s alternative rock like those early Lollapaloozas, especially the tour’s 1992 installment. That year saw Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Pearl Jam, and others headline a who’s who of talent across multiple stages. Rarely has a festival so large known their audience so well and delivered better. Sadly, few festivals, can claim that kind of identity today. – Matt Melis

10. Sex Pistols – American Tour (1978)

Few punk rock bands cause as much of a ruckus before even getting to the stage as the Sex Pistols, which explains why their first and last US tour was one in the same. Their manager booked dates that dodged major markets, sending the band through cities like Atlanta, Memphis, San Antonio, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and Tulsa before concluding in San Francisco. All recounts of the tour point to how amused and bitter Johnny Rotten seemed to be, not to mention Sid Vicious' struggling attempts at bass. And yet for what a supposed destructive slog it was, the Sex Pistols' subpar tour turned sour, fizzling out on live radio while captivating everyone who tuned it. It influenced the decades that followed for its sound, its attitude, and its unorthodox touring strategy, suggesting maybe we didn’t know what punk rock had to offer, or what it could take away either. – Nina Corcoran

09. David Bowie – The Ziggy Stardust Tour (1972-73)

With three months to absorb the songs on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, American David Bowie fans weren't prepared for what the musical icon would bring to the stage when he visited the US for the first time in 1972. Critics and audience members could tell a star was born on that tour. It was hard to deny. With his vibrantly orange hair and glitter-covered outfits, Bowie moved with the air of someone who had spent his whole life performing to massive crowds, and yet this was nearly the beginning. “I'm the last person to pretend that I'm a radio. I'd rather go out and be a colour television set,” he later said of the era and his take on performance at large. It was a moment in time where people across the world got to witness Bowie before them and realize, yes, this was a rock star about to take his position at the forefront for generations. And yes, it was impossible to describe. –Nina Corcoran

08. Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain Tour (1984-85)

How huge was Purple Rain? Well, it knocked Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. out of the No. 1 spot on the charts. That tells you about all you need to know. 1984 and ‘85 was peak Prince. He had a hit movie, a hit soundtrack, and, with The Revolution behind him, the band he’d always wanted. The shows themselves saw Prince, oozing sexuality, dive right into the best of Purple Rain and 1999, not hesitating to bring out openers Apolonia 6 or Sheila E. to sing along or to extend a jam by 20 or 30 mesmerizing minutes. In some ways, it felt like Prince was the orchestra leader and finally had all the pieces to conduct his grand vision. The tour thrilled millions, sent Prince even higher into the stratosphere, and pissed off Tipper Gore. Does it get any better than that? – Matt Melis

07. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Darkness Tour (1978)

Road warriors might be the best way to describe Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They’re a combo that thrives on the workmanlike sweat that comes from putting on an unforgettable rock and roll concert night in and night out. Some would argue that lunch box and pail mentality is best summed up by the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. Others would say the band was never better than when setting endurance records on a nightly basis on the Wrecking Ball Tour. But if we’re talking the moment that Bruce and band really became Kings of the Road (or maybe Bosses), that would have to be the Darkness Tour. The slate saw Springsteen finally headlining full-size arenas and adding several soon-to-be staples to the setlist. While these dates weren’t the marathon shows that fans would become familiar with on future tours, recordings capture an intense experience unlike any other Springsteen tour, where fast songs were sped up to breakneck speed and slower cuts were allowed to stretch out and get moodier than ever. It’s The Boss at his best. –Matt Melis

06. The Who – The Who Tour 1970 (1970)

Rock doesn't get better than The Who, and what better way to challenge the notion of ruff and tough classic rock than an opera? On their 1970 tour, The Who hit the road to support the recently released Tommy. While earlier that year, they recorded a live set that would become Live at Leeds, it was the combination of these sounds -- the blues-rooted, riff-heavy early material with the more adventurous, cinematic, crescendo-filled material of a rock opera -- that nailed this tour down as a career peak. At this point, The Who were settling into their role as rock superstars. With larger venues and gigs on the doc, the band amped up their live antics, playing into the role of frenetic antics and volume-heavy material. On top of this, the 1970 tour saw their iconic headlining set at the Isle of Wight Festival. They took to the stage at 2 AM with John Entwistle donning a skeleton onesie and Keith Moon acting giddy as ever, a seamless culmination of everything The Who represented as a band and the classic rock genre at large. – Nina Corcoran

05. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - First UK Tour (1967)

Sometimes a candle burns so brightly that we almost forget how briefly it was lit. We’d be excused if that’s the case with Jimi Hendrix. Once he broke out and became a star at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967, he’d be gone a mere three years and change later, having, in that short time, become the highest paid rock star in the world, recorded several of the greatest albums ever, and transformed not only how the guitar was played but how the instrument was thought about all together. To have seen Hendrix during this period might have been too blinding to fully appreciate. That’s why we’re more curious about the months Hendrix and The Experience spent building a name for themselves in the UK before coming to America. Their first UK Tour saw the band sharing a bill with, among others, a young Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck. The chance to see Hendrix in smaller clubs already playing with his teeth and, yes, lighting his guitar on fire (often to the consternation of security) months before Americans got to see it overseas feels like the ultimate sneak preview. -- Matt Melis

04. Madonna - Who’s That Girl World Tour (1987)

Madonna didn’t invent the pop concert. But, it’s more than safe to say that the pop concert was never the same after the Queen of Pop hit the road. Her first time out in 1984, appropriately dubbed The Virgin Tour, caused near-Beatles levels of hysteria among young American females, many of whom donned the Material Girl’s style, which gave birth to the term “Madonna wannabe.” By 1987, the US was not enough, and the Who’s That Girl World Tour sent a more sophisticated, but no less risque, Madonna out to conquer the world. And that’s precisely what she did. Her kick-off shows in London sold out in record time, the Japanese military was brought in to control the 25,000 fans who greeted her at an airport, and she played to record crowds in numerous countries and cities. And the most miraculous part was that Madonna transcended all the hype by offering a larger-than-life event. Her performance, her costumes, and the stage and multimedia setup had all been taken to new levels for this tour. To this day, critics and fans alike have proclaimed that they’ve yet to see anything quite touch these shows. -- Matt Melis 

03. Grateful Dead - Spring 1977 (1977)

Grateful Dead are one of those bands that really need to be seen and not just heard. And, what’s more, they should be seen and heard among a massive throng of other Deadheads. Yes, the Dead have great albums, like Workingman’s Dead, and more bootlegs showcasing their live chops than most people could ever get around to listening to, but, more than any band in history, what they toured from city to city was a culture and brotherhood, and their people followed. Every fan of the band will have their own favorite – maybe a tour where they spent weeks following Jerry Garcia and co. – but we’re going to go with the Dead’s spring slate in 1977. The run included the band’s legendary May 8th stop at Cornell, considered by many to be the “holy grail” of Dead shows. The set, like the tour, is known for catering to both hardcore Deadheads and welcoming newcomers. In other words, “Dead freaks unite!” – Matt Melis (Several former members of Grateful Dead now tour as part of Dead and Company.)

02. Michael Jackson - Bad World Tour (1987-89)

Sometimes, we forget that Michael Jackson had already charmed much of the world before he ever undertook his first solo tour in 1987. He had toured extensively with both The Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, playing before royalty, debuting many of his most famous calling cards in concert (including his single glove, sequined jacket, and the moonwalk), and touring the songs off hit solo albums Off the Wall and Thriller with his siblings. However, the Bad World Tour was the moment Jackson took over the world and truly became the King of Pop. He proved that a pop star could outdraw the hottest bands on the planet and that a pop concert could be an elaborate stage production on a scale never before seen. Jackson set both attendance and revenue records while performing 123 times in 15 countries, and his singular combination of distinctive singing, otherworldly dancing, and must-copy fashion made him a pop-culture icon of the highest order from then on. -- Matt Melis 

01. The Beatles - 1965 US Tour (1965)

The frenzy has its own name: Beatlemania. It began in the United States only a few months removed from the Kennedy assassination when the mop-topped lads from Liverpool played their first American concerts sandwiched between Earth-shifting appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. By the time they returned for 16 dates traversing the country the following year -- most of which lasted only about 30 minutes and included several other acts on the bill -- Beatlemania was in full effect. Legendary shows at venues like Shea Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl not only helped set attendance and revenue records but also captured footage of just how emotional fans could get at a concert. In the words of John Lennon a mere year later, The Beatles’ 1965 US Tour indeed demonstrated that a rock and roll band could be “more popular than Jesus.” -- Matt Melis

SEE ALSO: The Top 100 Music Festival Lineups of All Time

SEE ALSO: The Top 10 Music Venues in 10 American Cities


Never miss a show!

Sign up for savings, info, and more!

Please enter a valid email address.
Please enter a valid zip code.