South America is home to arguably the world’s most boisterous and passionate concertgoers, and the live music venues aren’t too shoddy either! Many of the region’s musical hot spots also host some of the biggest sporting events on the planet – the 2014 World Cup Final to cite just a recent example.
It seems that whatever the event, these venues always rise to the occasion, with their vibrant atmospheres attracting some of the biggest names in music and audiences of millions – sometimes in just one concert! In the third part of our 5 Live series, we choose South America’s 5 most iconic live music venues.
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1. Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Monumental, as it’s known to live music aficionados, is the biggest live music venue in Argentina, and has held some truly iconic events over the years. Before becoming a stomping ground for live musicians, it was primarily a football stadium, even hosting the 1978 World Cup Final.
Since then, it’s opened its doors to the most seminal performing artists of all time, from The Rolling Stones to David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Guns N’ Roses and many more. One thing you’re always guaranteed with El Monumental is a huge crowd – Bowie’s sell-out show in 1990 was attended by over 80,000 people, Paul McCartney played to 82,000 as part of his ‘Up and Coming’ tour and Michael Jackson brought in 300,000 fans over three days.
Watch Axel Rose nail those high notes in this clip from Guns N’ Roses’ 1992 gig at El Monumental:
2. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
We know what you might be thinking. A beach? In an article about live music venues? Admittedly, live gigs are probably not the first thing you associate with Copacabana Beach, but it has held some of the largest concerts ever performed.
In fact, it still holds the Guinness World Record for the largest free rock concert attendance in history; a whopping 3.5 million people turned up for a Rod Stewart gig on New Year’s Eve in 1994. (We can’t imagine crowd control that night was the most plain ‘sailing’ of tasks). Another steward’s worst nightmare took place at Copacabana in 2006, when The Rolling Stones held a free concert for over a million people.
Beach soccer, gorgeous views of Rio, warm weather and gigs which attract millions of people… Copacabana Beach doesn’t really have much going for it, does it?
If you’d attended the Rolling Stones gig at Copacabana Beach in 2006, you may have been best advised to park quite far away to avoid congestion:
3. Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos, Santiago, Chile
In the immediate aftermath of its construction in 1937, the Estadio Nacional was labelled a ‘white elephant’, as many believed it would never be fully filled and couldn’t justify its extortionate construction costs. How times have changed.
As well as hosting the 1962 World Cup and drawing in football crowds of more than 85,000, the Estadio Nacional regularly hosts national and international concerts.
A wealth of global stars have touched down there – Madonna, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson, U2, and Iron Maiden to list a few. But it may surprise you to know that the second most attended gig at Estadio Nacional (behind Madonna) was actually a concert by Chilean punk rock band Los Prisioneros, that drew 140,000 fans. Who said patriotism is dead?
Relive Iron Maiden’s legendary gig at the Estadio Nacional
4. Simón Bolívar Park, Bogotá, Colombia
Like the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, USA, this live music venue comes with a view, with the soaring Bogotá Hills surrounding it. Known as ‘the lung’ of Bogotá, it’s comprised of two performance areas – the Events Plaza and the Sports Palace.
The Simón Bolívar Park is the go-to place for international artists playing in Colombia, and is where countless musical acts have performed in the country for the first time, including Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Cure and Britney Spears.
If you wanted something to do other than have a few drinks before a gig there, you certainly wouldn’t be short of options. The park features a lake where people can rent paddle boats, an amusement park and a museum. Not a bad day out at all.
If you fancy watching two hours of non-stop Metallica, or just want to listen to some amazing Kirk Hammet solos, here is their 1999 performance at the Simón Bolívar Park
5. Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
There’s a common theme here that South Americans like their football. You’d almost think they were notorious for it. Anyway – this stadium, which is exclusively listed by FIFA as the only historical monument of World Football, has an equally impressive portfolio of live gigs under its belt.
Rather than go into detail to justify why we’ve included this venue on our list, below are just some of the names that have performed here (N.B. Some of the names have been included elsewhere in the article, but we can’t help it if they just love playing in South America so much):
- Brian May
- Eric Clapton
- Guns N’ Roses
- Joe Cocker
- Luis Miguel
- Paul McCartney
- Rod Stewart
Here’s a clip of Mick Jagger and co strutting their stuff to ‘Gimme Shelter’ on the Estadio Centenario stage:
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