With Bruce Springsteen arriving in Philadelphia tonight, there are fans who are ravenous enough to attend all three + hours of his sold-out show. Each time The Boss arrives, he leaves thousands of fans without voices, hard core fans looking for some deep cuts extremely satisfied and of course takes newcomers to E Street. What is special about the mythology of Springsteen is the length of the shows he plays. Not many bands, especially one led by a septuagenarian and his multi-talented accomplices, can keep an audience’s attention for 3 hours. His longest show on record was also in Philadelphia, clocking in at well over 4 hours. This article focuses on artists who play what are called “Marathon Shows”, meaning shows over two and a half hours and the epic setlists that proceed them.
Guns N’ Roses
Show Length: 3.5- 4 Hours
Guns N’ Roses are the latest band to join the Marathon Shows Club. The group comprises of members including front man Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagen. Together the three and a band of hired “Guns” play for 3 hours with setlists clocking in at a whopping 32 plus songs. While some complain that Axl’s voice is not quite what it was, he is at least trying to put on a show worthy of the fans’ money. The setlists have put heavy emphasis on the Appetite For Destruction era albums as well as a handful of Use Your Illusion album tracks. Their encore alone consists of the 10-minute-long song “Coma” in addition to 3-4 other tracks ending on the 6 minute long “Paradise City”.
Show Length: 3-3.5 Hours
The grunge veterans are notorious for their Marathon Shows. The band’s standard playing time is three and a half hours. They typically exercise this length by never playing the same set twice. The band can even go shows without playing any of their signature hits, relying on fans’ sheer love of the music. It also goes without saying that this is Eddie Vedders’ band. With that noted, the front man uses the three-hour long show to get audiences involved in causes near and dear to him and the band. This is also a cause for division amongst the fan base, but it is noted that their shows are still a great time.
Show Length: 3-3.5 Hours
Leave it to Sir Paul, the oldest performer at Glastonbury, at 80! years old to perform a 3-hour, 38 song setlist. He played sets similar in length every night on his 2022 tour. Even in years past, during his tours shows would clock in at 3 plus hours of Beatles, Wings, and solo hits. The Rolling Stones are his age, and they can’t even touch the two-hour mark with their shows. This showcases why The Beatles front man is still one to see on his tours.
Show Length: 3 Hours
In the last year alone, The Eagles were on the road celebrating the anniversary of Hotel California. In addition to playing the whole record, the band played a whopping 26 song main set. The show clocked in at 3 hours. Not bad for a band who had lost some pivotal members along the way.
Dead & Company
Show Length: 2.75-3 Hours
While no longer active as a band (for now), the group consists of former Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzman and newcomer John Mayer. During their tenure, the band played nearly three hour long shows with rotating setlists. These setlists consist of tracks culled from the Grateful Dead’s discography and Jerry Garcia solo hits. John Mayer’s inclusion injected some much-needed youth and shredding guitar solos into the Dead’s material, keeping younger audiences engaged during the lengthy shows.
Show Length: 2.75 Hours
The emo rock legends, The Cure are currently on their Shows of a Lost World Tour. The tour sees the band playing a rotating setlist from their vast catalogue. The group even dropped new tunes from their upcoming untitled 14th record. One of the highlights from a two- and three-quarter hour-long show included front man Robert Smith, serenading his wife by the side of the stage to “Plain Song”.
Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
Show Length: 2.5 hours
Since January 2014, Billy Joel has played a series of shows at Madison Square Garden. The record-breaking concert series continues through this year. That’s nearly a decade of playing in New York City. Though Billy Joel shows no sign of the residency getting old to him. How does he keep things fresh after 9 years? He makes it so that the audience doesn’t even know what to expect. While the 25-song set track list remains the same, the guests do not. Everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Axl Rose and Pink make for a fun 2-and-a-half-hour-long night out at Madison Square Garden.
Thats all the bands currently putting on Marathon Shows. If I missed any, let me know in the comments below!