Las Vegas is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” and with all of the biggest acts in the world having played there at some point, it’s no wonder why. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Las Vegas, of course, the nightlife is incredible, and the casinos are iconic, but the live concerts are one of the major reasons that millions of people venture to Vegas every year.
If you enjoy casino table games, including online poker, chances are that a visit to Las Vegas is on your bucket list. To give you an idea of the caliber of performers who grace venues along the Strip, take a trip down memory lane and look at a few of the best live concerts ever that have taken place in the renowned City of Lights.
The Beatles: 1964
The second stop on The Beatles’ first-ever U.S. tour brought John, Paul, George, and Ringo to “Fabulous Las Vegas” (as the famous sign says) for a series of 25-minute, sold-out shows in 1964. Held at the Convention Center Rotunda (which was fire-coded to hold only 7,500 people,) 8,400 adoring fans would gather each show for what became known as the loudest concerts of the time. This was not because of the PA systems but because of the fans singing along to each and every song! Ticket prices ran from $2.20 to a then-outrageous $5.50, and you can bet that the Fab Four had their fair share of fun, gathering around in-room slot machines, setting the stage for Vegas to become one of the premier music venues in the world.
The Elvis Presley Concert Series: 1969
Vegas wouldn’t have become “Vegas” without Elvis. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll will always be an undeniable part of the history of Las Vegas. In the 1960s, after a few years of not performing, Elvis made his comeback with a four-week run of concerts in Vegas. During this series at the end of the 1960s, he was performing all-time classics like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog” and giving an electrifying performance at each show. The 36-year-old returned to the town — which had not been ready for his style and boyish charm at the beginning of his career — and sold out every show, achieving his status as a true legend. With 57 performances, he became the talk of the town. With all the Elvis impersonators out there, even to this day, it seems that he remains so.
With more Gold Record Awards than any other American band, KISS will always be one of the most influential bands in rock ‘n roll. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees rose to fame in the 70s thanks to hits like “Black Diamond” and “Rock ‘n Roll All Nite.” Just two years after their founding, the glam rock icons performed two highly anticipated shows at the Sahara Space Center, an extension of the famous SAHARA Hotel and Casino, in May 1975.
Despite the name they have made for themselves in the industry today, when they performed at the Sahara Space Center nearly 50 years ago, they were paid just $700 for both shows ($3,600 today.) Plus, the sell-out shows (which Billboard later described as “controlled chaos [of] visual explosives and heavy metal rock ‘n’ roll”) were only a few hours apart, with the first starting at 8 pm and the next at 2 am the following morning. The set list that the band performed has been lost over the years, but it’s safe to assume it included some of the biggest tracks from the band’s first three albums: “Kiss,” “Hotter Than Hell,” and “Dressed to Kill.”
The purple prince of pop stole the hearts of thousands in Las Vegas in the late 1990s, not only with his sell-out shows at the MGM Grand that saw more than 13,000 fans in attendance but with his raw, unrehearsed after-party performances at Club Utopia. From his most famous hits to his funky impromptu late-night performances, Prince thoroughly charmed Vegas and established the late-night entertainment tradition that continued in the years that followed.
Pearl Jam: 2000
The year 2000 saw one of the most legendary Las Vegas concerts in American history — iconic to both Las Vegas and Pearl Jam. Playing at the Strip’s famous MGM Grand Garden Arena, the band opened with Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive,” covered Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and performed some of their own biggest hits, including “Corduroy” and “Breakerfall,” making for a concert that went down in history as one of the best. There were a number of encore songs, a packed house, and thousands of crying, awe-inspired fans as Pearl Jam gave a knockout performance. The evening’s “official bootleg” was featured in the Billboard 200, despite being released the same day as 23 other live recordings, bringing in the new millennium the way only Pearl Jam could.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: 2005
Red Hot Chili Peppers made a show for the books on July 2, 2005, when 50,000 people gathered to see the renowned band perform (alongside Weezer and The Adolescents) for a free show in Vegas. To celebrate its centennial, the City of Las Vegas handed out free tickets to the event, and while each of the bands brings guaranteed unforgettable experiences to the stage every time they play, the collaboration — plus the fact that it was free — made for an incredible and unique Vegas experience! In true RHCP style, there was also a free-form jam by Flea and John Frusciante, which, as you might imagine, was also unbelievably epic.
Guns ‘N Roses: 2016
Guns N’ Roses holds a longstanding connection with Las Vegas, having graced the city’s stages multiple times, most notably during their triumphant three-year reunion tour, the “Not in This Lifetime… Tour.” This tour marked an iconic moment for both the band and its dedicated fan base, marking the first time in 23 years that rock legends Slash, Axl Rose, and Duff McKagan shared the stage with each other.
The tour’s inaugural leg ignited at West Hollywood’s intimate venue, The Troubadour, where a special performance catered to 500 attendees set the stage. Yet, it was within the electric confines of Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena that the tour’s grandeur truly unfolded. Over two consecutive days in early April 2016, Guns N’ Roses captivated sold-out crowds, amassing nearly 29,000 die-hard fans each night before moving on to the illustrious Coachella festival the next week.
Notably, Las Vegas maintained its embrace of this iconic rock group, with the latest rendezvous transpiring in late August 2021 at the expansive Allegiant Stadium, accommodating a staggering 65,000 attendees. The city’s enduring resonance with Guns N’ Roses remains a testament to the band’s indelible impact on the musical landscape and their enduring legacy within the hearts of fans.
The Best of Live Entertainment at MGM
MGM Grand has seen a huge number of legendary artists since opening its MGM Grand Garden Arena in 1993, from Whitney Houston, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Neil Diamond and Fleetwood Mac, to Coldplay, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Drake. If you’re planning a visit to Vegas, be sure to include this incredible hotel, casino, and concert venue in your itinerary.
That’s just the beginning, though. The Garden Arena is one of seven incredible MGM venues in the city, all of which are host to some of the most legendary performers of our time. If you’re a music lover after a great night out, perhaps even a fun date night in Vegas, upcoming concerts at this venue include the Jonas Brothers on September 8 for the pop enthusiasts, Shinedown on October 13 if you’re looking for rock concerts in Vegas, and even Madonna on January 18, 2024.
Discover more incredible MGM Entertainment Venues to see your favorite artists.
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