Top 10 Rock Concert Opening Songs
A great rock concert opening song can remove whatever lingering worries were rattling around in your brain during the work day, and confirms that all your excitement about the big show tonight was totally justified. With the right riff, a proper scream and typically, enough pyrotechnics to bring down a small country, a band can set the perfect tone right away. As the first article in our “Great Starts” week full of features, here’s 10 of the best Rock Concert Opening Songs as selected by Ultimate Classic Rock:
Like any good showmen, Kiss know the importance of a strong first impression. They’ve used a number of opening songs throughout their history – ‘Detroit Rock City‘ and more recently ‘Modern Day Delilah‘ both work great – but there’s no topping the moment where the three guitarists lock into their patented marching formation at the end of ‘Deuce.’
If the rumors are true, we may get another Van Halen tour (and a new album with Roth?!) later this year. If so, we vote they ditch the ‘You Really Got Me’ opener of their first reunion trek and go back to using this barn-burner from ‘Women and Children First.’ While we’re pushing our luck, how about David actually remembers the lyrics, and adds in the studio version’s awesome “Feel My Heartbeat“ breakdown?
Opening songs don’t always need to be hard-hitting explosions of energy. For years, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers eased crowds into the proceedings with the chiming guitars of ‘American Girl.’ The famous “..raised on promises” opening line introduces Petty’s storytelling style nicely, and the song steadily builds energy until the end, so that there’s more than a suitable launching pad for the rest of the night’s setlist.
‘I Don’t Know’
Now, to hear this song at its full live power, we need to set our Ultimate Classic Rock time machine back to 1981, kick the concert off with a snippet of Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ and have the late, great Randy Rhodes on lead guitar, as you can hear on the amazing live album ‘Tribute.’ But really, it’s hard to go wrong with any version of this song, which sums up Ozzy’s worldview rather nicely.
Metallica went on an approximately 38 year long sold-out tour following the release of their bazillion-selling “Black Album,” and from what we understand they opened just about every one of those 4,200 shows with the clean guitar tones and steadily building rhythmic thunderstorm that is ‘Enter Sandman.’ We’re pretty sure it never got boring for anybody, either. Even detractors of their shift from metal to rock gotta admit this one shoots sparks.
‘Where the Streets Have No Name’
Supposedly the Irish rockers spent months with chalkboards charting out the ebbs and flows of this song, driving themselves so mad that they nearly “accidentally” erased the master tapes to get a fresh start. It was all worth it, though, as the opening of every U2 concert for the next three years became the sonic equal of a widescreen movie sequence. Nowadays, they typically use it as an encore song, which essentially gives them two starts per show.
‘Rock and Roll’
If they came back — and Plant’s right, they cannot, and to go further, nepotism sucks — would it matter what song Led Zeppelin opened with? If Bonham was alive we wouldn’t care if they started with that Puff Daddy ‘Godzilla’ crap. Nevertheless, this is what they opened with for quite a good bit of their peak, and seeing it makes us wish we were just a little bit older so we could have been there to see and hear this for ourselves.
‘Start Me Up’
Well, with a title like ‘Start Me Up,’ it’d be hard to use this as the set-closing song, huh? Luckily, this quick-starting gem from 1981’s ‘Tattoo You’ is designed to show off the individual skills of, and collaborative electricity between, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger as perfectly as possible. Awesome crowd participation moment: when Mick forgets the “whoo” near the end — and 80,000 people remember it for him.
‘Welcome to the Jungle’
Is there really anything more we need to say about this one? ‘Do you know where you AREEEEE?”
AC/DC certainly weren’t hurting for potential concert opening songs by the time 1990’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’ rolled around. In fact, it’s harder to find one of their songs that wouldn’t get the show off to a great start (shout out to ‘Live Wire!’). But this lightning-fingered, tension-building riff by Angus Young, and the perfectly delayed shout-a-long payoff when the whole band finally joins, in make this our choice for the best song to start a rock concert.