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The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years

From Led Zeppelin’s U.S. debut to Jay Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch the Throne’ spectacle, and beyond

The list below was born out of some pretty serious arguments. Was Bruce Springsteen better in 1975 or 1978? When did Kanye hit his stride? Which was more awesome, “The Joshua Tree” or “Zoo TV”? The concerts and tours that made the final cut weren’t just huge spectacles, they deepened the power of rock & roll itself – from Neil Young thrashing out 20-minute jams with Crazy Horse to Beyoncé turning stadium glitz into a personal outpouring. “You’re almost levitating on the energy from the audience,” says Keith Richards. “And I miss it when I’m not doing it.” Here are the people who’ve done it best.

Jay Z & Kanye West 'Watch the Throne' Tour

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Jay Z and Kanye West ‘Watch the Throne’ Tour

“I’m sorry if this is your first concert,” Kanye West said to a Los Angeles crowd on the Watch the Throne tour. “It’s all downhill from here.” Supporting their triumphal 2011 LP, Watch the Throne, Jay Z and Kanye convened the greatest superstar summit in hip-hop
history. The pair performed on giant, rising cubes that projected video, and, when the tour hit Paris, encored with their hit “Niggas in Paris” 12 times in a row. “People just wanted more,” says the tour’s lighting designer Nick Whitehouse. “It made people crazy.” C.R.W.