In 1991 Metallica performed “Enter Sandman” live in Moscow for 1.6 million fans.

It’s almost scary looking into the distance and seeing absolutely nothing but people it’s unbelievable..

This concert meant so much in history. The Russians get their first glimpse of Western popular culture and the children of the Western world saw that the people of the former USSR were not so different from them and certainly not the enemies they allways thought they were. They just enjoyed a good time too.

So what is the question ?

Insane. How does a concert like this happen??? You look at all the old shows from big bands back in the day and they are absolutely massive. Im probably absolutely wrong here but these shows blow Coachella and other large group shows away.

The answer to this question :

This was thrown together by Time Warner. Free concert for the young people of Russia. Metallica, Pantera, AC/DC and The Black Crowes. This was rock and roll getting introduced to the east. Lots of people called this the final nail in the coffin for the USSR. Nobody knows how many showed up. Anywhere from 600k to 2m. No tickets were sold, so yeah, good luck coming up with the right number. I have always heard somewhere between 1-1.5m. Pantera had some awesome stuff from this event on their backstage video’s.

Here is another answer that can be given :

Ever tried providing WiFi for 1.6M people in one place? If you can’t no one want’s to go these days /s

The reason is actually quite complicated and related to a number of different things, the first and for most being Health & Safety.

These types of concerts would be very unlikely to get approved in most countries now due safety concerns. There have been some major accidents at large music events in the past 20 years that have had a significant effect on how we plan large scale events (including The Low Parade Tunnel Incident – 21 dead, Roskilde Festival Incident – 9 dead) . There are so many rules that govern how many people are allowed in a space, how frequently there needs to be barriers, aisles, exits, toilets etc. making it even harder to manage the logistics for such a concert.

Security these days is a complete nightmare. Imagine trying to get 1.6M people though metal detectors and ‘TSA style’ screening.. most major artists now insist on that in their riders. Where would you hold them before screening? On top of that, for a site large enough to hold this many people it is nearly impossible to secure the perimeter which pretty much makes screening pointless.

Coachella has around 250,000 attendees, less then 1/6 of the crowd at this video, and even those are usually spread over multiple stages / areas and not all together like here.

There are other reasons related to how artists contacts / promoters / venue owners etc. work now, it’s not as simple as it was in the 90s.

I do think it’s sad, I got into live music in the 80s when I was in my teens and there was still some very large scale concerts, but these days its very rare to go over 200K for a show.

The one odd exception is Copacabana Beach which still holds the record for the highest attended concerts (3.5m for Rod Stewart in the early 90s) but continues holds concerts that pull in over 1M.

Watch the concert below.

  • Leave Comments