The List: Best Concerts and Tours 2016

Looking back on some of the best tours and concerts from some of the biggest artists this year 2016 was a big year for the concert industry.

There were so many amazing concerts and festivals to choose from. This year, some artists hit the road for the first time, while others continued to be road warriors.

There is no better way to enjoy music than the live experience. I for one make sure to attend as many live shows as I can each year, as it’s the best way to feel the music of your favorite artists. This year was no exception. Below is The List for best concerts and tours of 2016. 

Florence and the Machine

Florence and The Machine continue to prove why they are one of the best live acts in the business. Not only is Florence Welch the star of the show, but the rest of her backing band are amazing musicians who can play album tracks flawlessly live. Welch is a modern day Stevie Nicks (even though Stevie Nicks is still out there on the road herself), with her flowing dresses and the way she dances around the stage.

With only three albums behind them, Florence and the Machine have become veterans of the music world and continue to amaze fans live. Just check out their performance at this year’s Sasquatch Festival at the legendary Gorge in Washington State. Additionally, for another really awesome look at the band live, check out their unplugged performance from 2012.

The Cure

To think that The Cure has been at it for almost 40 years now is both amazing, and a testament to the love fans have for their music. I have seen The Cure a few times live, and they never disappoint, playing nearly three-hour shows with hit after hit along with some great rarities.

This year, Robert Smith and the boys embarked on their first US tour in a few years, and for some cities, their first shows in over a decade. Once again, they did not disappoint, with three-hour shows being the standard every night. Check out highlights from their Chicago show and see a band that are still killing it live!

Temple of the Dog

When a grunge supergroup who released their one and only album 25 years ago decide to go on tour for the first time ever to celebrate its anniversary, what do you do? Well, I made sure to be at Madison Square Garden for their New York City stop. Playing only eight shows, Temple of The Dog became the hottest ticket this fall.

As a fan who grew up in the grunge era, being able to see my heroes on stage, which I never thought would happen, was an amazing experience that I have discussed in detail. To see what I mean, check out their show from The Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco.

Coldplay

When you get to the point where you can sell out stadiums anywhere in the world, you know you have joined a select few artists in music. This year, Coldplay completed their first stadium tour in the US. Years ago, many people were saying that Coldplay were out to become the next U2, and they have seemingly followed that path.

With giant anthems, whether they are the original melancholy Coldplay sound or the newer dancey Coldplay, their songs sound amazing in giant venues. Take a look at the massive audience as Coldplay just rocks the house and tell me you don’t get chills hearing the fans singing back.

The Desert Trip

Now, this one isn’t just one band. Instead, it’s a weekend festival that took place this past October on the same grounds that Coachella is hosted at every year. What made this festival so special was the gathering of legends that were on the bill. Over three nights, you had three of the four biggest bands to come out of the British invasion including The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Paul McCartney. Follow that up with folk legends like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. For the final cherry on top, you have Roger Waters representing the legendary Pink Floyd. I mean, wow!

If I lived anywhere near that show, I would have definitely been there. No other time in music history has seen that many legends gathered together like that. On a side note, it was recently revealed that Led Zeppelin was offered $14 million to play the two weekends, but wound up turning it down. What will it take to get those guys to play together again? With an average age of 72, The Desert Trip showed that grandfathers can rock just as much as their grandkids. 

Slipknot

From one extreme to the other, Slipknot are the kings of live metal. I don’t think it’s even close. I saw them this past summer with Marilyn Manson opening and was blown away. I haven’t seen Slipknot since the early 2000s, but was a regular at their shows in the early years. I have seen them everywhere from small clubs like The Limelight in NYC to Ozzfests and everywhere in between.

One thing that never changes is how the band comes out on stage and gives you everything they’ve got. To prove that, singer Corey Taylor broke his neck from headbanging on stage too hard, and within a few days, was back on stage neck brace and all. One of the best live metal bands I have ever seen, Slipknot gets the whole crowd up and moving, I know I was! 

Lady Gaga Dive Bar Tour

Talk about returning to your roots. Before she was Lady Gaga, she was a woman named Stefani playing piano in bars as a singer/songwriter. Ten years later, she is one of the biggest stars in the world. As she has done in the past, Gaga has reinvented herself, and her latest album Joanne is a complete 180 from most of her previous releases. 

Rooted in country and rock, Gaga’s latest album shows the world what a diverse and talented artist she truly is. To promote the release of Joanne, Gaga went back to those dive bars. These shows highlight an artist who has come full circle. I can’t wait to see what Lady Gaga does next.

Before I get to my Top 5 tours of 2016, here are a few of Morgan’s picks!

Generation Axe

What do you get when you combine five of the biggest guitar acts in the world? Generation Axe. This concert featured the likes of Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Tosin Abasi, Nuno Bettencourt, and Yngwie Malmsteen. When I purchased tickets for this, I was hoping the five guitarists would jump on stage together, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was otherworldly to see these guitarists trading riff after incredible riff. As a guitar player, this was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen, just check out Wylde’s 11-minute cover of Black Sabbath’s classic track, NIB!

Disturbed

Does David Draiman ever get tired? I have to wonder, as he’s had an incredible few years. This has all culminated in the 2016 Disturbed tour to promote the album, Immortalized. Not only does Draiman never get tired, but he apparently never gets overheated.

Disturbed’s stage setup featured an incredible display of pyrotechnics for the song Inside The Fire, with Draiman delivering mind-blowing vocals all while donning a long, black trench coat. The concert definitely took me back to the early 2000s listening to Disturbed’s most popular album, The Sickness. If you haven’t seen Disturbed live, you’re definitely missing out!

Now that we’ve heard Morgan’s picks, let’s get down to my Top 5 tours of the year! 

Adele

After a long layoff, Adele toured the US and became the hottest ticket anywhere she played. The secondary ticket market was on fire for this one, as people paid hundreds of dollars for a chance to see someone who many (myself included) feel is the greatest voice of this generation. Adele did not disappoint, holding the audience in the palm of her hand each and every night. Her voice is just as amazing live as it is on record, proving that she is the real deal.

Radiohead

When Radiohead tours, it is an event. One of the best bands of the past 20 years, Radiohead are one of the premier live acts out there. This tour was made special by the band finally playing their first hit, Creep. They have shied away from it for so long, only bringing it out on very rare occasions, since they are not the same band anymore. Finally embracing their roots, Creep was a highlight at shows on this tour. Night 2 of their Madison Square Garden double shot ended with Creep and the roar of the crowd, the sound of everyone singing in unison gave me chills

Bruce Springsteen

Even for someone of Bruce Springsteen’s legend, touring in honor of his double album classic, The River, by playing the entire album in order is a hard sell. Or so you would think. Springsteen sold out arenas and stadiums all over the world in support of the 35th-anniversary edition of The River. Bruce never disappoints, even at 66 years young.

After a few years trying to find their groove after the loss of the Big Man Clarence Clemons, Springsteen and his modified E Street Band sound as good as ever. This past summer for his hometown stand at MetLife Stadium, Springsteen broke records playing 4-hour shows of all his hits and more. Every night, Springsteen would open with the rarity and one of my personal favorites, New York City Serenade

Guns and Roses

No return was bigger this year than Guns and Roses. For the first time since 1993, Axl, Duff, and Slash performed together. The Not in This Lifetime Tour sold out stadiums all over the world, and the band kicked ass every night, playing all their hits and then some. Seeing the band back together again makes fans hopeful for new music in the future, as we already know new tour dates are on the horizon in 2017. I am planning on catching one of the shows next year, as I need to be rocked to my core in a way only Guns and Roses can do. 

Pearl Jam

I don’t even know where to begin with Pearl Jam’s 2016 tour. Anyone that follows my writing here knows my deep love for the band and how far I’m willing to travel to see them. I caught four shows on this tour. To say these shows were special to me is an understatement. It all started for me in Philadelphia hearing the band play their debut album Ten beginning to end for the first time since 1992. This was an amazing show where the band rocked MSG down to its core. Then this summer, I was lucky enough to catch both shows at Boston’s legendary Fenway Park.

You can read all about my experience that weekend here, here, and here. Those two shows combined for perhaps the greatest concert moments of my life to date. Trust me, that’s a bold statement. I believe that years from now, people will look back on the touring Pearl Jam and see that the band were second to none with their performances. Thanks to Pearl Jam for a memorable 2016, and here’s to an amazing 2017, which should include your induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

For more on The List, be sure to check out the best comebacks and reissues of 2016, and the best debuts of 2016 featuring my favorite new band, The Struts.