The biggest rock gigs of all time

13 July 2019, 16:00 | Updated: 13 July 2019, 16:01

A sea of arms at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, 13 July 1985
A sea of arms at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, 13 July 1985. Picture: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Let's look at some of the most enormous shows played by our favourite acts... Were you at any of these?

When bands get bigger, so do their audiences. Here, we look at some of the most enormous shows played by our favourite acts.. From The Stone Roses at Spike Island to Oasis at Knebworth, were you at any of these?

  1. Live Aid / Live 8

    Crowds At Live Aid. Wembley Stadium, 13 July 1985
    Crowds At Live Aid. Wembley Stadium, 13 July 1985. Picture: Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    On 13 July 1985, the world of music came together to bring African famine to the attention of the West. The UK leg of the event took place in Wembley and drew around 72,000 fans and, in the US, it’s reported that 100,000 were in attendance at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. In 2005, they did it all again, with an estimated 200,000 turning up at Hyde Park.

  2. The Stone Roses at Spike Island 1990

    Fans wait for The Stone Roses to take to the stage at Spike Island, Widnes, 27 May 1990
    Fans wait for The Stone Roses to take to the stage at Spike Island, Widnes, 27 May 1990. Picture: A Phillips/EMPICS Entertainment

    The Stone Roses at Spike Island, or Woodstock for the Baggy Generation, is one of the most famous events in British music history. Although slated for poor sound quality and the unpleasant chemical dust that rose from the ground, some 27,000 people rocked up to celebrate Madchester.

  3. Oasis at Knebworth 1996

    Oasis at Knebworth as seem from the air, August 1996
    Oasis at Knebworth as seem from the air, August 1996. Picture: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

    The defining moment of Britpop, Oasis at Knebworth was a truly magnificent musical spectacle. With 250,000 fans attending over two nights, Oasis were assured their place in musical history. Legend has it that the gigs had the biggest guest list of all time.

  4. The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 1965

    Shea Stadium during The Beatles gig at Shea Stadium, 14 August 1965
    Shea Stadium during The Beatles gig at Shea Stadium, 14 August 1965. Picture: Bettmann/Getty Images

    The Fab Four effectively kick-started stadium rock as a going concern on their 1965 tour when they played this baseball ground in New York State on 15 August that year. The sound was horrible, but promoter Sid Bernstein said: "Over 55,000 people saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium. We took $304,000, the greatest gross ever in the history of show business." (Well, up until that point, anyway). Naturally, they did it all over again the following year.

  5. Stereophonics at Morfa Stadium 1999

    In May 1999 Stereophonics sold out Swansea’s Morfa Stadium, which held a capacity of around 50,000. This was a huge achievement considering they only had two records out. Critics tried to pan the gig after Kelly Jones performed his football anthem As Long As We Beat The English.

  6. The Stones in Hyde Park, July 1969

    The Rolling Stones on stage at their free concert in London's Hyde Park on 5 July 1969
    The Rolling Stones on stage at their free concert in London's Hyde Park on 5 July 1969. Picture: Sunday Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

    No one really knows how many people were present at The Stones In The Park on 5 July 1969 (it being a free gig and all), but it’s estimated that somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 fans turned up to pay tribute to the band's fallen comrade Brian Jones, who had died two days earlier. The Rolling Stones would play the field again 44 years later.

  7. Glastonbury Festival

    n aerial view of the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm in Pilton on June 26, 2011
    n aerial view of the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm in Pilton on June 26, 2011. Picture: David Goddard/Getty Images

    Glastonbury is an enormous event and largely considered the best, the biggest, and the most loved festival in the world. The Pyramid stage can host up to 90,000 people alone and the likes of Coldplay, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and many more have all graced it.

  8. Arctic Monkeys at Old Trafford Cricket Ground 2007

    Arctic Monkeys play the Lancashire Cricket Club's Old Trafford Ground, 28 July 2007
    Arctic Monkeys play the Lancashire Cricket Club's Old Trafford Ground, 28 July 2007. Picture: Jon Super/Redferns/Getty Images

    In 2007, Arctic Monkeys were on top of the world. Their debut Whatever People Say I Am… had become an instant classic and follow up Favourite Worst Nightmare was a fan favourite. The success took them all the way to the Lancashire County Cricket Club in Manchester, which saw them draw a crowd of 55,000. The gig is one of the most important of the noughties.

  9. Woodstock, August 1969

    The crowd at Woodstock Festival, August 1969
    The crowd at Woodstock Festival, August 1969. Picture: John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

    The most famous festival of all time, Woodstock was attended by some 400,000 people. Some of history’s greatest artists were present (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Band, The Who, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and many more). There have been several reincarnations of the festival over the years, but none captured the same magic.

  10. U2 at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, October 2009

    U2 perform at Rose Bowl during their U2 360 Tour on October 25, 2009 in Pasadena, California.
    U2 perform at Rose Bowl during their U2 360 Tour on October 25, 2009 in Pasadena, California. Picture: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

    U2 took their 360 tour all over the world (playing shows at London’s Wembley Stadium, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and many more around the globe) with a special show in October 2009 at Rose Bowl in California. An incredible 97,000 gig-goers attended the event and is one of the band’s biggest shows to date.

  11. Isle Of Wight Festival, August 1970

    A view of the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970
    A view of the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. Picture: Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

    1970’s Isle Of Wight Festival was, can you believe it, bigger than Woodstock. Along with Jimi Hendrix and The Who, the likes of The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Free, Miles Davis and a shed load more all performed over the weekend. Attracting somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 people to an island with a population of 100,000 to see some of the world’s biggest bands proved to be a logistical nightmare and the festival was the last of its kind for over 30 years.

  12. Red Hot Chili Peppers at Slane Castle, August 2003

    Supported by Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, Feeder, PJ Harvey and more, Live At Slane Castle saw the Chilis perform to 80,000 people in 2003. At that point, they were the biggest band in the world and played a wide variety of tracks, although none from their first four albums!

  13. Monsters Of Rock, 1991

    Monsters Of Rock was originally a festival held between 1980 and 1996 at Castle Donington (now home to Download). It later morphed into gargantuan metal tour that travelled all over the world. In 1991 they hit Russia and an incredible 1.6 million rock fans are reported to have turned up. Motley Crue and AC/DC were on the bill, but it was Metallica that stole the show.

  14. Warrior's Dance Festival at Milton Keynes 2010

    The Warriors Dance Festival of 2010 was a celebration of the late noughties dance boom. 65,000 ravers headed to Milton Keynes to watch Pendulum, Chase & Status, Enter Shakri and, of course, The Prodigy.