The great American centre of entertainment that is Las Vegas, Nevada, has long been closely tied to the music business. Over the decades, the city in the desert has played host to a number of legendary concerts that have since gone down in history.
From everybody’s favourite crooner to genre-defining British rock bands, all of the biggest acts have played in Vegas at one time or another. Truth is, Las Vegas and great music go together perfectly; so much so in fact that many famous songs are based on the city and its notoriously vibrant culture.
In this article, we will take a look at a selection of the finest concerts ever to have been played in Sin City. Although every night of the week sees some huge names playing Vegas’ best and biggest venues, the concerts listed here are the true generation-defining nights that have gone down in Las Vegas folklore.
So, without further ado, here is our list of the greatest Las Vegas concerts of all time…
The Beatles – 1964
On their first ever US tour, the fab four came to Las Vegas to play a series of sold-out shows at the famous Convention Center Rotunda. Today these 25 minute long shows are best remembered as some of the noisiest gigs of all time, back when PA systems couldn’t compete with over 8,000 adoring fans singing along to every single word of the band’s smash hit early singles releases. These days these famous shows are truly a part of Nevada’s musical history and perhaps set the scene for Las Vegas going on to become one of the foremost musical venues on the planet.
Elvis Presley – 1969
By this point The Pelvis was thirty six years old rather than the boyishly handsome nineteen year old that America had grown to love in the mid-1950s. In fact, this four-week run of shows at the end of the sixties was something of a comeback for Elvis who had fallen out of favour during the decade when less clean-cut rock was beginning transform music and, for that matter, America. It would not be too audacious to suggest that Elvis may not be seen with the same legendary status that he is today if it had not been for this 1969 run of shows. As it happens, he managed to completely nail every song he performed, with classics such as Hound Dog and Jail House Rock delighting audiences at the International Hotel every single night.
Prince – 1997
Back at the beginning of the end of the nineties, Prince was playing a series of sell-out shows at the MGM Grand. Although undoubtedly amazing performances from His Purple Majesty (as fans lovingly knew him), these shows would go on to be upstaged by a famous after-party performance by the legendary funk star. Taking place at Vegas’ Club Utopia, these raw, unrehearsed and thoroughly off the cuff after-party performances would soon become the stuff of legend as the late great artist would perform for many hours, often taking requests from the adoring audience of just a few dozen lucky attendees.
The Doors – 1969
These days Jim Morrison’s performance at the Las Vegas Ice Palace at the turn of the decade is the stuff of Nevada folklore; at the time though, it was met with severe skepticism. This is because Morrison was famously subdued during the whole forty five minute show, a tongue in cheek response to threats from the local governor to arrest Morrison if he was to behave in his, by that point, trademark lewd manner. In perhaps the least provocative performance of his entire career, The Doors’ frontman barely moved during the whole set and, in doing so, managed to provide more of a commentary on the state of free expression in 1960s USA than any hip-gyration or nakedness could ever have done.