Music's most OTT stage shows

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Tonight (August 14) U2 bring their 360 Tour to London's Wembley Stadium. It has been described as the "world's most expensive and preposterous rock show", and features a giant electronic "claw", a 164ft-tall stage prop that towers over the band. Each claw is made of solid steel and requires 120 trucks to cart it from show to show. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 13 Aug 2009

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Music's most OTT stage shows

U2 are no strangers to ambitious and overblown stage shows. Their PopMart tour in the late '90s was a multimedia extravaganza, complete with a 12-ft olive and the biggest video screens ever constructed. Unfortunately, the band's hubris was punished during a concert in Norway, when they got trapped inside the giant lemon. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Cannons, a wrecked train, a giant bell: AC/DC's stage shows have always relied on props. What's less well known is that guitarist Angus Young experimented with a number of outfits before hitting on the schoolboy look. His 'Superman' phase ended in ignominy when a specially built telephone box failed to open, trapping him inside.Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

During her 2006 Confessions Tour, Madonna sang the song 'Live To Tell' while suspended from a huge shiny cross – a designer "crown of thorns" balanced on her head – while images of African orphans appeared on screens behind her. It was all very understated. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

At a gig in 2004, thrash metallers Slayer played their classic album 'Reign In Blood' in its entirety – accompanied by "blood" pouring from the ceiling. Unfortunately, the downpour buggered up the instruments, coating the cymbals and making the drums sound, in the words of the band's producer, "like a coffee mug being tapped with a spoon". Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Fireworks, dancing skeletons – ZZ Top have done it all during their decades of playing arenas. Although perhaps they went too far in 1974, when their stage set included live buffalo, vultures and rattlesnakes. Frontman Billy Gibbons recalls: "One night, a buffalo rammed two cages containing the snakes. Suddenly we had a dozen rattlers crawling around onstage." Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

David Bowie promised fans his 1987 Glass Spider tour would be "ultra-theatrical" – and so it proved. The show began with four dancers falling from the belly of 50ft-high spider with flashing legs and a head like a jukebox. Later, Bowie sprouted gold wings and swung from the ceiling. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Alice Cooper's 1973 Billion Dollar Babies tour caused a stir. It featured snakes, whips, and a "dental psychosis" interlude with dancing teeth. And for the finale? The decapitation of baby dolls with a guillotine. Meanwhile, Cooper's guitarist played a flame-throwing guitar which, at one show, set light to the singer's hair. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Pink Floyd's famous inflatable pig has caused them no end of headaches in its three-decade lifespan. In 1976 it broke free of its moorings and rose to an altitude of 40,000 feet, blocking flight paths and forcing flights from Heathrow to be cancelled. The following year an out-of-control pig struck a fan in the head during a gig. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

For years the highlight of Iron Maiden shows has been the appearance of 'Eddie', the giant monster depicted on the band's artwork. However, Eddie wasn't always so impressive: at early Iron Maiden gigs he was portrayed with a cheap face mask, through which various liquids would be squirted. People generally burst out laughing. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

While touring their 'Use Your Illusion' albums, Guns N' Roses attempted to wow fans with a giant inflatable effigy of Satan. Sadly, it was so big it often failed to fully inflate and just sat there looking all floppy, while roadies attempted frantically to prod some life into it. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Motley Crue's arena shows in the mid-'80s were enlivened by drummer Tommy Lee's regular solo spot, during which he would fly over the crowd in a specially constructed cage, which enabled him to keep playing while upside down. Check out the frankly jaw-dropping footage on YouTube: search for 'Tommy Lee drum solo'. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

David Byrne came up with a novel gimmick for his recent residency at London's Camden Roundhouse: he "played" the entire building as an instrument. He achieved this by hooking up a pump organ to various nooks and pipes, creating an unearthly sound which, according to one critic, summons  a "strange pathos". Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

The '70s were a golden age for ludicrous stage shows. Few musicians, however, could outdo George Clinton. While touring with Parliament/Funkadelic he engineered an astonishing climax during which a "mothership" would land onstage. Clinton would then emerge as "Dr. Funkenstein", and administer funk to the audience. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Another master of big-budget '70s flamboyance was Todd Rundgren. While touring with his prog-rock act Utopia, he insisted on a backdrop involving a 20ft pyramid and a fire-breathing dragon. No wonder punk-rock happened. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Question: what do the Beastie Boys and The Rolling Stones have in common? Answer: they have both used an inflatable penis as a stage prop. Mick Jagger and co nicknamed theirs the "tired grandfather" – this was back in 1975 – but the Beastie Boys upped the ante by giving their phallus a motor. Crafty. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Muse's Wembley Stadium shows in 2007 were pretty impressive, featuring giant video screens, lasers, and ballet dancers suspended above the audience. However, they would have been even better, had health and safety wardens not talked them out of their original plan: to fly into the stadium in an airship. Photo: Andy Willsher

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Never ones for understatement, prog-rockers ELO devised a stage show that involved laser beams bouncing off a mirrored ball hung from a hot air balloon. Spectators were also treated to the sight of a 60ft-wide fibreglass spaceship. Photo: Getty Images

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Not to be outdone by Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison has been known to fly over the crowd's heads in a spinning drum harness of his own. This is a good deal more impressive than Slipknot's other stage gimmick, which involves, erm, telling fans to sit down, and then stand up again. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Surprisingly, many years after his '70s pomp, Elton John's most OTT shows are the ones he's doing now. His 'Red Piano' residency in Las Vegas involves a giant pinball and a colossal, inflatable pair of breasts. During the song 'I'm Still Standing' an enormous unpeeled banana makes a sudden appearance. It's a tasteful affair. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Ozzy Osbourne's 1982 Diary Of A Madman tour featured a stage set resembling a castle, complete with a portcullis. One night, the portcullis jammed shut, leaving newly recruited bassist Pete Way trapped behind it. Was this the inspiration for the Derek Smalls scene in 'This Is Spinal Tap'?

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Watching Wayne Coyne walk over the heads of an audience while encased in a plastic bubble is one of those sights that never lose their charn. However, it's not the most impressive part of a Flaming Lips show: that usually comes when the WAND descends, a giant mirrorball that fires green lasers, smoke and strobe light in all directions. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

British heavy metal act Saxon were nothing if not ambitious. For their 1982 The Eagle Has Landed tour they played beneath a model of an enormous eagle. Sadly, they were forced to abandon their original plan for the bird to lay a giant egg from which lead singer Biff Byford would be "hatched". Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

The Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang Tour of 2005-7 was an undeniable spectacle, involving a detachable stage, spewing flames, and graphics representing the Big Bang. None of which dented profits too much: it's the highest-grossing tour of all time, earning $558 million. Photo: PA Photos

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Music's most OTT stage shows

Take That's recent stadium shows found the group riding through the audience on a 50ft pneumatic elephant - a jaw-dropping piece of theatre that earned Take That a somewhat incongruous position in NME's Future 50 list of innovators. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 3 Aug 2009

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