In today’s day in age, seeing an artist in an arena or stadium setting is far from abnormal, but back in the 1970’s, arena shows were revolutionary. In the early to mid 1970’s, the technological advances in sound systems and amplification created the ability for bands to play larger venues. The greater sizes of the venues allowed artists to have full scale stage shows, including advanced lighting, smoke, and sometimes even fireworks.
This genre, and type of live performance became known as Arena Rock, here are some bands that helped make these epic forms of live shows popular:
The English rock group Queen featuring Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon were one of the first rock bands to dominate arenas across the country. Their live shows were known for Mercury’ flamboyant stage presence, costumes, which helped give off a theatrical vibe. Queen was also best known for their songs, “We Will Rock You”, “We Are The Champions”, and “Radio Gaga”, that often involved participation from the audience. One of the greatest live performances, as described by many, was Queen’s performance at Live Aid which involved 72,000 people clapping along to the beat of, “We Will Rock You.”
2. Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin, arguable one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970’s, were one of the first bands to draw crowds large enough to fill arenas, and even stadiums. Although Zeppelin’s sound on their studio albums is hard to beat, the true chemistry of Led Zeppelin could be found in any stage show they put on. One of the most famous shows of the 1970’s was Zeppelin’s performance at the Tampa Stadium in Florida in the year 1973, playing to a whopping amount of 56,800 people. At the time, this show beat The Beatles’ record for their iconic show at Shea Stadium in 1965. Led Zeppelin is easily viewed as one of the bands that helped establish the idea of stadium rock. They only went on to break more attendance records in later years.
If you ask anyone who was a child in the 1970’s, they’re bound to tell you that being at a KISS show was like none other. Between the smoking guitars, flaming pyrotechnics, blood spitting gags, seeing them perform live was an experience. KISS’ initial fame even came from a live album entitled, Alive!, which included multiple recordings from shows across the country. In 1976, KISS played to their biggest crowd yet, made up of 42,000 people at Anaheim Stadium on the Destroyer Tour, and later went on to also break a Beatles attendance record at Tokyo’s Budokan Arena in 1977, during the Rock And Roll Over Tour.
4. The Eagles.
The American rock band, The Eagles, originated from Los Angeles, CA in the early 1970’s. The Eagles are often referred to as one of the greatest acts of the 1970s, having sold more than 150 million records in their career. The Eagles played one of their biggest shows at the California Jam festival in April of 1974. The band played in front of 200,000-300,000 people, with the likes of others bands such as Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Deep Purple. This festival was televised, and broadcasted on ABC.