Each profession has its iconic venues. These are the places where aspiring artists dream of performing and musicians are spoilt for choice. Of course, not all voices suit all venues but, fortunately, the world is full of wonders and performers of all persuasions who can find a place to hit their high notes.
Whether it’s out in the open and surrounded by nature or among the synthetic soundproofed walls of venues in Vegas, the music industry’s biggest artists have a plethora of options. However, which place is the best to play? To be honest, choosing the iconic music venue is more a matter of purpose rather than preference, but we think we’ve found some serious contenders for the world’s leading musical destinations.
Rock the Kasbah
Playing inside a man-made structure is all well and good. But if you’re a rock legend, you need an arena without limits. There are no more iconic concert venues than the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
Like a musical Mount Rushmore, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a place where some of the biggest performances of the last 50 years have taken place. Carved into the side of the Rocky Mountains, this iconic venue has played host to some of the biggest bands in the world over the years, including U2, the Dave Matthews Band and the Beatles.
One of the reasons why Red Rocks has become a favorite for guitar smashing legends over the last few decades is its acoustics. Given its natural setting, bands can crank the volume up to 11 and blast out power rifts all night long while revelers enjoy one of the most impressive concert experiences in the world.
Interesting fact: Back in 1964, the Beatles played a gig at Red Rock but weren’t able to sell the last of their tickets. Despite selling out every venue on the tour, the Liverpool legends couldn’t fill the seats at Red Rock because of the hefty price tag attached to each ticket. Although it might not seem like a lot by today’s standards, the $6.60 entry fee was a little too steep for music lovers back in the day. Another story from history is that Red Rocks was closed as a rock venue for five years back in 1971 thanks to Jethro Tull.
Madison Square Garden in New York is not only one of the most iconic music venues in the world, but it is also one of the most iconic entertainment destinations. Home to some of the greatest spectacles in modern memory, the Manhattan arena has welcomed the music world’s greatest performers since it opened in 1968.
Costing $123 million ($805 million in today’s money) to build back in the Sixties, Madison Square Garden is listed as one of the most expensive entertainment venues in the world. When it’s not serving its primary function as a sports arena, it hosts some of the biggest pop acts in the industry.
From the likes of Elvis and Elton John, to modern performers such as Michael Jackson and the Swedish House Mafia, Madison Square Garden has seen all the world’s finest performers grace its stage. Why is it so popular? According to Billy Joel, it has got everything. From the audience (20,000) to its location, the Garden is apparently the perfect place to play:
“Madison Square Garden is the centre of the universe as far as I’m concerned. It has the best acoustics, the best audiences, the best reputation, and the best history of great artists who have played there,” said Billy Joel.
Interesting Fact: Madison Square Garden has relocated no less than four times. The venue was originally opened in 1879 in Madison Square, which is now a park, and stood as an open air arena until 1890 when it was reconstructed with a roof. However, this new arena was unsuccessful as a business venture, prompting a third attempt in a new location on Eighth Avenue. That plot was subsequently redeveloped and the current Madison Square Garden (IV) was then built on the site of the original Pennsylvania Station.
For Legends Only
Once you’ve rocked the Rock and sung in the Garden, the only destination left for a performer is Sin City itself – Las Vegas. Known as a Grace Land for all things entertainment, including gambling, fighting and shows, Vegas has become synonymous with music legends over the years.
Much of Vegas’ association with the music industry harks back to the Rat Pack and Elvis. Between Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and the King of Rock and Roll, Vegas established itself as the city where artists see out their careers in style.
Through residencies in some of the city’s biggest casinos, modern-day legends are now performing their swan songs under the twinkling neon lights of Vegas. In recent years the likes of Celine Dion, Elton John and Mariah Carey have all accepted lucrative contracts to perform nightly shows in venues such as The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Interesting Fact: Naturally, Las Vegas is as much about gambling as it is music. Over the years many of the industry’s biggest names have taken a spin at the roulette tables and rode their luck with their residency fees. Although the likes of Elvis and Sinatra might not have known all the rules of the game, they certainly drew some inspiration from the games on offer and penned a number of songs, such as Night Life, about their times gambling in Sin City.
Hitting the Right Note
As we alluded to in our intro, choosing the number one music venue isn’t easy. Just like hooks, melodies and tones, everyone has their own preference and it’s impossible to say which is better than the other. Fortunately, variety is the spice of life and the world has some truly stunning music venues above and beyond the three we’ve listed in this article. Whether it’s in the US, Europe or Asia, there’s a myriad of musical monasteries for you to hear your favorite icons preach the gospel.