Concerts are an important part of the music industry, and they’re also an amazing experience for the fans. They’re the best way to get up close and personal with your favorite musical artists, and a chance to hear some incredible vocals in person. Whether it’s a musician who constantly changes up their sound, or just plays the greatest hits, there’s really nothing like a good concert.
In the world of tours, there are different approaches to take. Some artists choose to make their show the biggest extravaganza possible, while others opt for something much more low-key and raw. Either way, all of these performers have cracked the code to putting on an entertaining show for the fans that love them. Some of them are even out on tour this year, so pay attention and start saving your money so you don’t miss something incredible.
Who runs the world? No surprise here, it’s Beyoncé. The Queen Bey has been touring the world since back in the days of Destiny’s Child, and her live shows get more epic every time. She and her husband Jay-Z sold out stadiums together with the On The Run Tour back in 2014, trading hits back and forth and performing all their iconic duets. Her most recent outing was 2016’s Formation World Tour, which featured a 60-foot tall rotating video screen. The tour followed the same narrative of her Lemonade album, and audiences were blown away by the spectacle.
18. Kanye West
Kanye West is another iconic performer who co-headlined a tour with Jay-Z. Their Watch the Throne Tour in 2011 and 2012 asserted their dominance in the rap game and set the record for the highest-grossing hip-hop tour at the time. He followed that up with the Yeezus tour, which featured a 50-foot mountain in the middle of the stage. Kanye doesn’t like to do anything small. His Saint Pablo tour famously featured a stage that floated above the audience while suspended on cables. Kanye is known for being late to a lot of his concerts, but when he finally shows up, it’s worth the price of admission.
17. Britney Spears
It’s been a while since Britney Spears hit the road, but we’ll give her a pass considering she was killing it in Vegas for four whole years. Her residency show Britney: Piece of Me was a huge success, and she wowed fans with incredible sets, costumes, and her signature dance moves. Before Vegas, Britney was known for headlining elaborate arena tours, and her shows in the early 2000s were some of the best. She can be a controversial public figure, but she knows how to put on an amazing show, that we know for sure. She’s bringing her Las Vegas show on tour this year in North America and Europe, so we’ll finally get to see the Princess of Pop again.
16. Katy Perry
Bigger is often better when it comes to arena pop tours, and Katy Perry isn’t afraid to go huge. When she played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015, she rode into the stadium on a giant robotic lion… because how else are you supposed to make an entrance? Her 2012 concert movie features many segments of her California Dreams tour, and Katy really knows how to throw a party. She, of course, shoots whipped cream out of her bra, and does no less than seven costume changes during a single song. Are you not entertained? Katy’s currently on another world tour to support her album Witness so you won’t have to wait too long to see how amazing her shows are.
U2 might be one of your parents’ favorite bands, but they still put on an epic show. Their 360º Tour, which spanned two years from 2009-2011, is the highest-grossing concert tour in history with over $730 million in sales. The innovative tour featured a state-of-the-art circular stage, which was the largest ever built, and was distinctive for the claw-like structure over the stage. Audiences were packed in on all sides, leading to an immersive concert experience truly like none that had come before. Over seven million people attended the tour, and now we kind of wish we had too.
Before there was Lady Gaga, there was Madonna. She’s been at the top of the pop concert game since the early ’80s, and her tours have always been exciting, unpredictable, and more than a little controversial. During her Confessions tour in 2006, she sang one song while hanging from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns. Needless to say, some church members weren’t happy. Her more recent tours are typically a mix of her newest tracks and throwbacks to her iconic hits, giving everyone lots to love. The Material Girl is still going strong at age 59, and we hope she doesn’t stop anytime soon.
13. Billy Joel
Well, they don’t call him the Piano Man for no reason. Billy Joel stopped releasing new music in 1993, but he’s spent the last two decades playing his greatest hits around the world. Twice, he’s gone on tour with Elton John, with the two legends trading their hits back and forth. He also tours extensively on his own, and currently is in the midst of an unprecedented residence at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. His shows are much simpler than most of the pop stars on this list, but his legions of adoring fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
12. Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande could sing at a microphone without moving for two hours and we’d still buy a ticket. Her voice is obviously one of the best in pop music, but her tours are still all-around spectacular. Last year’s Dangerous Woman Tour was her biggest yet, with dramatic lighting, a string orchestra, and the stationary bikes that we loved in the “Side to Side” video. Her tour was tragically interrupted when the arena in Manchester, England was bombed in May, 2017, but Ariana bravely resumed the tour after organizing a benefit concert to honor the victims. Ari is amazingly talented and knows how to put on a FIRE tour, but she’s also a great person.
11. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones have been together for more than half a century, but their popularity isn’t going anywhere. When U2 set the record for most successful tour of all time, they bumped The Stones to #2 on the list, and we have a feeling they’re trying to reclaim the crown. They’ve been on tour every year since 2012, traveling around the world playing for fans old and young. They started their career playing in bars and other small venues, where hordes of screaming fans would follow their every move. 50 years later, they’ve graduated to football stadiums, but their fans love them just the same.
Rihanna is a bad gal who knows how to get down and dirty on stage. Her concerts feel like an exclusive nightclub, where you and a few thousand of your closest friends are ready to dance and have the night of your life. Rih has plenty of hits to choose from, and she always chooses the right mix to make everyone happy. Her most recent ANTI World Tour was described in one review as a “randomly epic road trip,” which sounds like a damn good time. It’s a mystery when Rihanna’s next album and tour will be, but you can sign us up now.
9. Justin Timberlake
The moves, the voice, the swagger: Justin Timberlake has it all. He perfected his dancing and vocal chops back in his NSYNC days, but the swagger is all his own. He’s the third performer on this list to have co-headlined a tour with Jay-Z, and Jay clearly knows how to pick his touring partners. Justin’s going back on a major tour in 2018 and 2019, playing more than 100 shows for his hundreds of thousands of fans. His new music is taking more of a country slant, but hopefully he doesn’t get rid of any of his signature moves and performs some throwbacks.
8. Miley Cyrus
Since her days as a Disney Channel star, Miley Cyrus has been hosting some of the most exciting concert tours. Her Hannah Montana tours were exactly what you wanted them to be, but in her personal career she’s taken her freedom and run with it. Her Bangerz tour was an explosion of raunchy, zany creative energy, and it featured some… interesting… imagery. For example, Miley rode around the arena on a giant hot dog. Yeah. She then embarked on the Milky Milky Milk tour, playing her experimental music at a handful of smaller theaters. Miley is anything but conventional, and she puts on a good show because of it.
7. Janet Jackson
Her brother Michael Jackson was always known for his jaw-dropping concert tours, and clearly, the talent runs in the family. Janet Jackson has been headlining world tours since the 1990s, putting on heart-stopping shows packed with political commentary, precise choreography, and of course, incredible music. Janet’s 2016 Unbreakable Tour had to be cut short due to her pregnancy, but she hit the road again just nine months after giving birth. It’s dedication like that that keeps the fans coming back time and time again. If you’re mainly familiar with Michael’s music, do yourself a favor and go check out Janet’s greatest hits.
Cher is one of the all-time biggest pop icons, and she built an important part of that legacy on the road. She’s currently in the middle of her third Las Vegas residency, and she’s proven she has a tough time saying goodbye to the stage. More than ten years ago, she went on a farewell tour that ended up consisting of more than 300 shows, one of the longest single tours ever. She then went on another tour a few years later, because saying goodbye to her fans is really that hard for her. Her iconic bejeweled costumes will always be legendary, as will her many hits.
Sia is probably the first artist to sell out arenas without ever showing her face. In her Nostalgia for the Present Tour, Sia sang from the back of the stage with her face covered, while a group of dancers performed throughout. The dancers, led by Dance Moms alum Maddie Ziegler, bring life to Sia’s music in the most amazing way, and she’s perfectly happy to stay out of the spotlight. This artist is known for her gigantic wigs and hats, but her powerful voice is more than enough to show the emotions she’s feeling in her music. Her unique approach to being a pop star makes her one of the most exciting to see live.
Lorde is another performer who draws in audiences not with lavish costumes and a team of backup dancers, but with her emotional delivery. Lorde first topped the charts when she was just 17 years old, and she quickly became a fixture on the music festival scene with her euphoric performances and crazy dancing. She embarked on her first world tour in 2013, playing large theaters, but by now she’s too popular for that. She’s currently on her second big tour, selling out arenas all over the world. Lorde keeps it cool and quirky even on the biggest stages, and we love her for that.
3. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has plenty of haters, but most of us can agree that she’s a talented performer who can work a crowd. From her roots in country music to her more recent pop phase, her live shows have always been equal parts music and imagination. During her Red tour, she flew out over the audience as confetti rained from the ceiling, and it almost felt like magic. During her more recent 1989 World Tour, Taylor continually made news for the dozens of A-list friends she would bring on stage, ranging from models to movie stars. The haters can stay mad because Taylor’s gonna keep doing her thing and laughing all the way to the bank to cash in the massive checks she gets off her concert tours.
2. Céline Dion
Is there anyone more classy and poised than Céline Dion? Honestly, we really don’t think so. The French-Canadian diva has been bringing the house down with her gigantic voice for decades, doing shows in both French and English. She’s toured extensively, but she’s best known for her two Vegas residencies, the first from 2003-2007, and the second, which started in 2011 and is scheduled through 2019. That’s a huge commitment, but Céline has pulled it off flawlessly, showing her fans time and time again why they love her so much. Seeing her perform “My Heart Will Go On” live is definitely a bucket list moment.
1. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of big stars with huge concert tours. Since she first got famous in 2008, Gaga has been thinking outside of the box in her performances, and she’s so much fun to watch. Her first few tours were all “balls,” where people would dress up in costume and just go get weird with her. Gaga does it all in her concerts, from high-energy, difficult choreography to intimate moments playing the piano. Lots of people thought Lady Gaga was a little bizarre at first, but sometimes it takes a while to get used to creative genius.