10 Longest Gigs That Went On Forever – And One That Was Over In A Second (2023)

How long should a good gig be, and conversely what’s the earliest a band or artist can exit the stage without the audience feeling ripped off? How long is a piece of string (perhaps you’d better ask a string theorist)? Also, there’s the old quality vs quantity conundrum: a concert can go on for days, but if the music played is awful then that’s of no use to man or beast. But how about if you were to get quality and quantity, like a giant musical Ferrero Rocher party and all your Christmases come at once? Here are 10 memorable concerts that went on seemingly forever, and one that was over in a heartbeat.

Bruce Springsteen at the Olympiastadion, Helsinki, 31st July 2012

Boy can the Boss go on, which if you’re a Bruce Springsteen fanatic, is a prolonged eternity in heaven with the fatted calf and all the trimmings. Famously, Bruce Almighty likes to sate his fans until they can barely walk with over-nourishment, but even he outdid himself playing at the Olympiastadion in Helsinki a few years ago, breaking his own personal best with a show that lasted four hours and six minutes. The gig no doubt featured his classic ‘Born To Run’, but nobody was running anywhere fast that evening.


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Bruce Springsteen with Paul McCartney in Hyde Park, 15th July 2012

A few weeks before the Helsinki show, the Boss was at it again, and this time he’d brought Beatles legend Paul McCartney on stage to sing the band’s classics ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist And Shout’. For those who hadn’t fainted already, ecstasy was all but guaranteed. Or was it? As it turned out, Bruce had gone on far too long for Westminster Council’s liking, and some of the oligarch’s who own properties nearby weren’t too happy about the noise, and so the plug was pulled on America’s greatest modern rock artist and one half of the finest songwriting duo of the 20th century. Still, it had been quite a night. Imagine how good it would have been had someone actually turned the volume up? “When did England become a police state?” asked incredulous guitarist Steven Van Zandt, a member of Springsteen’s E Street Band, on Twitter. Van Zandt was miffed that “English cops” had stopped “80,000 people having a good time”. Quite right Stevie!

Muse at Olympiastadion, Helsinki on 27th July 2013

What is it they put in the Karelian pasties in Finland to give artists that extra stamina needed to break their own long standing records? Or is it just the clean Nordic air? According to Setlist FM, Muse performed their longest ever show at the same arena Springsteen managed his PB, performing two encores and 27 songs in all, lasting an entire age. The audience might have got Stockholm Syndrome had this happened next door in the neighbouring capital city of Sweden. Do you see what I did there?

Chilly Gonzales at the Ciné 13 Théâtre, Paris between May 16th and 18th 2009

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Gonzo is the self-proclaimed ‘Entertainist’ where performing on the old joanna is concerned, and having held the attention of an audience in Paris for more than a day while managing to stay awake and break the world record for longest solo concert into the bargain, well, who could argue? The Canadian musician tinkled the ivories for an incredible 27 hours, three minutes and 44 seconds, getting through 300 plus songs and an awful lot of anecdotes in the process. Bravo!


Pixies at Teatro La Cúpula in Santiago, on October 13th 2010

Black Francis and co. performed an incredible 33 songs, one for each of the 33 previously trapped miners in Chile who were rescued while the eyes of the world watched, back in 2010. “We were so moved by this story,” said Frank in a statement “by how many lives had been affected by this, and how the Chilean people banded together to support what can only be described as a miracle.” And where better to play this incredibly long show than in a city named after their own guitarist, Joey Santiago?

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Jarvis Cocker and friends at the Village Underground Gallery in Shoreditch, London 9th-11th November 2009

Not so much three gigs as a three day-long installation (with two sleeps), Monsieur Cocker of Pulp fame dragged the kids of Shoreditch in to jam with him over three, long and occasionally challenging days, while others performed yoga and headstands. This all-inclusive concept and free-for-all was sometimes more delightful than the execution, but how heartwarming that hundreds of young musicians could go away and tell their mates they’d played on stage with Jarvis Cocker.

The Cure at the Foro Sol in Mexico City, April 23rd 2014

If you have a phobia of long silences then The Cure have the antidote, playing endless sets that are the enemy of quietness. Debate on some seriously crepuscular fan message boards rages regarding the longest ever show from Fat Bob and the boys. Was it Berlin or was it Paris? All of these shows were suitably protracted, but Robert Smith celebrated his 54th birthday in Mexico City with an incredible fifty song set lasting 4 hours and six minutes. Not even a 5.9 magnitude earthquake could deviate them from the path of righteousness.

Live Aid on the 13th July 1985

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You must have heard of it. 75 acts played for 16 hours linked by satellite between Wembley and Los Angeles, beamed live into the homes of millions, raising many more millions for starving children in Africa. And most importantly Phil Collins got to fly across the Atlantic and play at both events, including a stint on drums for Led Zeppelin! The mother and father of all telethon events kick started a glut of similar – and some might say – inferior imitations. Or Freddie Mercury punching the air and making the world realise it needed Queen again? Or Bob Geldof shouting “give us yer fookin’ money”?

Radiohead at the Great Stage Park in Tennessee, 17th June 2006

Radiohead are a band that like to give back, and have done so often with preposterously long live sets. There’s some confusion as to which show is longest, but their most robust this century was almost certainly at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, lasting 2 hour and 20 minutes and featured two encores and 28 songs. Despite the massive offering, they couldn’t find room for their breakout hit, ‘Creep’.

Grateful Dead at the Winterland Ballroom, 31st December 1978 to 1st January 1979

The Grateful Dead made the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco their second home, and it’s here where they supposedly played a number of six-hour shows; the suggestion that all their shows were that long is somewhat apocryphal though. One set that may well have surpassed the six hour mark (there were 36 songs, and Jerry Garcia and the band’s songs do go on a bit) was the New Year’s Eve show of 1978 that rolled well into New Year’s Day 1979. A somewhat shorter show at the Winterland earlier in that same year saw the Sex Pistols bow out with the now infamous line: ‘Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’

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As for the shortest show…

The White Stripes achieved one that lasted less than a second when they played one note – believed to be C# – at a venue in Newfoundland, Canada in 2007. Hundreds of fans showed up for the event, and were warned in advance of the brevity of what would transpire, but the Guinness Book of Records failed to honour the stunt as an official record. Jack White had to wait until last year to break one when he released ‘Lazaretto’ in the fastest time during 2014’s Record Store Day.


What was the longest concert in history? ›

Organizers of last year's 18-day concert at the Earl of Whitchurch Pub had already planned a victory celebration this weekend. They just didn't have the official record yet. It's official and (finally) Guinness-certified: Stouffville holds the world record for the longest concert in recorded history.

What is the longest concert ever by one artist? ›

The longest performance by a solo artist lasted 501 hours and was achieved by Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan (India) at the Rhythm Therapy Hall, Nandavanam Hospital, Ottapalam, Kerala, India, on 5-26 July 2009 This record is the overall category for music marathons - Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan also holds the record for ...

Who holds the record for most concerts in one year? ›

But which rock band played the most concerts in a single year? That distinction goes to the Grateful Dead, who played an astonishing 522 concerts in 1972. That's an average of more than four concerts per week!

What band has the longest tour? ›

The Use Your Illusion Tour was a concert tour by American rock band Guns N' Roses which ran from January 20, 1991, to July 17, 1993. It was not only the band's longest tour, but one of the longest concert tours in rock history, consisting of 194 shows in 27 countries.

What is the deepest concert ever? ›

Who knew that was even a thing? The Shaft Bottom Boys played for nearly an hour more than 6,000 feet below sea level. The venue was the Creighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, a community with a deep history in mining.

What was the shortest concert ever? ›

The White Stripes made history on July 16th in 2007 when they played the shortest live set of all time. Playing just a single note before leaving the stage the group delivered a record-breaking performance, one which is, undoubtedly, the achievement that the seminal group will be most proud of from their iconic career.

What is the longest running number 1 song of all time? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks.

Which performer has the biggest selling single record of all time? ›

Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles are top of the list for best-selling artists worldwide, with 183 million units certified sales. Second is Garth Brooks with over 157 million units sales, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units.

What is the longest single ever recorded? ›

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The longest recorded pop song is “Apparente Libertà,” by Giancarlo Ferrari, which is 76 minutes, 44 seconds long. This surpassed the previous record of “The Devil Glitch,” by Chris Butler, which is 69 minutes long.”

What Singer holds a world record? ›

The correct answer is Option 1, i.e Asha Bhosale. Legendary Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle has entered the Guinness World Records for the most number of single studio recordings. She is best known for her playback singing in Hindi cinema. Asha has recorded up to 11,000 solo, duets and chorus backed songs.

Who is the highest paid singer per concert? ›

Adele and Taylor Swift are the two highest-paid musicians, with net worths of $730 million and $260 million, respectively.

Who has the most #1 albums in one year? ›

The only artists to have three different albums hit number one in the same year are The Beatles and The Monkees.

What band has played the most warped tours? ›

10 bands who played Warped Tour the most on its cross-country run
  • Less Than Jake: 12 Warped Tours. ...
  • Simple Plan: 11 Warped Tours. ...
  • Anti-Flag: 10 Warped Tours. ...
  • Motion City Soundtrack: Nine Warped Tours. ...
  • Motionless In White: Nine Warped Tours. ...
  • Silverstein: Eight Warped Tours. ...
  • Pennywise: Eight Warped Tours.
Mar 6, 2018

Which band has the most world records? ›

Aerosmith also broke several world records, including being the all-time best-selling American hard rock band with over 150 million records sold globally.

Who is the loudest concert band? ›

Deep Purple Concert – 117 dB

At one point, it was recognized as the loudest band of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records after playing a famously noisy show at the Rainbow Theater in London.

Who is the loudest concert? ›

Today in 1976, The Who entered the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the loudest concert in history at the time during their concert at England's Charlton Athletic Grounds with 76,000 watts at 120 decibels.

What was the worst concert disaster? ›

On February 20, 2003, the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history took place at a roadhouse called The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. That night, in the few minutes it takes to play a hard-rock standard, the fate of many of the unsuspecting nightclub patrons was determined with awful certainty.

Has there ever been a concert with 1 million people? ›

Jean-Michel Jarre has attracted a live audience of more than a million spectators on five occasions, three times in Paris, 1979, 1990 and 1995, once in Houston, 1986, and once in Moscow, 1997. He is the only artist ever to have done so.

What concert was bigger than Woodstock? ›

The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, the Grand Prix racetrack in New York state, took place on July 28, 1973. It was attended by a mind-boggling (and record-breaking) total of 600,000 people, who enjoyed hours and hours of music provided by just three acts, the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead, and The Band.

What is the longest piece of music ever recorded? ›

A 639-year-long John Cage organ piece had a very rare chord change. And it was quite an event.
  • Organ2/ASLSP at St. Burchardi Church, Halberstad. Picture: PA.
  • Composer John Cage at the piano. Picture: Getty.
  • The organ of the John Cage Organ Foundation Halberstadt inside the Burchardi Church. Picture: PA.
Sep 8, 2020

What was Billie Eilish largest concert? ›

Billie Eilish got fans 'happier than ever' as she performed in front of approximately 30,000 fans at the National Stadium on Sunday, August 21.

What was the highest paying concert? ›

In 2023, with 278 reported dates, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour by Elton John became the highest-grossing concert tour of all time, unadjusted for inflation.

What is the biggest concert in America? ›

1 Grateful Dead - 107,019

The concert drew 107,019 fans making it the largest ticketed single concert in American history.

How many people went to Woodstock 99? ›

There were about 400,000 attendees. A total of 186,983 tickets were sold according to reports shortly after the festival, which "translates into a gross take of $28,864,748" at the time. Ticket sales were advertised as being capped at 250,000, the capacity of the venue.

Who was the best performer at Woodstock? ›

1: Jimi Hendrix

Though meant to run across three days, Woodstock's disorganization meant it sprawled into the morning of Monday, August 18, 1969, with Blood, Sweat And Tears, Crosby, Stills Nash And Young, The Butterfield Blues Band, and more plowing on well after midnight.

Who was the biggest headliner at Woodstock? ›

Jimi Hendrix was the headliner at Woodstock, but few people actually saw him perform. Hendrix was one of those artists who demanded his fee, nearly $200,000 in today's money, in advance.

Who made the most money at Woodstock? ›

So it was certainly justified that Jimi Hendrix was billed as the overall headliner at Woodstock in 1969, and that he commanded the highest paycheck of all performers. Hendrix was paid $18,000 for appearing at Woodstock, which is the equivalent of about $125,000 today.

What are the top 10 longest songs? ›

10 Longest Songs Ever Written
  • Length: 34:45. Artist: Magellan. ...
  • Length: 36:30. Artist: The Polyphonic Spree. ...
  • Length: 42:04. Artist: Dream Theater. ...
  • Length: 43:46. Artist: Jethro Tull. ...
  • Length: 47:09. Artist: Meshuggah. ...
  • Length: 59:16. Artist: The Flower Kings. ...
  • Length: 60:06. Artist: Green Carnation. ...
  • Length: 77:54. Artist: Transatlantic.
Dec 21, 2019

What is the longest number 1 song ever? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks.

What is the hardest piece of music ever? ›

  • Alexander Scriabin — Mysterium.
  • Giovanni Bottesini — Concerto for Double Bass No 2 in B Minor.
  • Luciano Berio — Sequenzas.
  • Conlon Nancarrow — Studies for Player Piano.
  • Anton Bruckner — Symphony No. ...
  • Adolf von Henselt — Piano Concerto Op. ...
  • Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst — Variations on “The Last Rose of Summer”
Nov 17, 2020


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