Arena rock

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Queen during a live concert in Norway in 1982.
A Queen concert in Drammen, Norway in 1982, showing the scale and lighting of an arena rock concert.

Arena rock (also referred to as pomp rock,[1] stadium rock,[2] anthem rock,[3] or corporate rock[4]) is rock music that uses large arena venues, particularly sports venues, for concerts or series of concerts linked in tours. Historically, arena rock bands have often come from the hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock genres, using a more commercially oriented and radio-friendly sound, with highly produced music that includes both hard rock numbers and power ballads, both often employing anthemic choruses.[5]


The origins of arena rock were in the 1960s, sometimes dated to when The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York in 1965. Also important was the success of the large pop and rock festivals like Monterey (1967) and Woodstock (1969)[6] and the use of large stadiums for American tours by bands including The Rolling Stones, Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin. The tendency developed in the mid-1970s as the increased power of amplification and sound systems allowed the use of larger and larger venues.[2] Smoke, fireworks and sophisticated lighting shows became staples of arena rock performances.[7] It has been argued that the rise of arena rock marked the end of the idealism of the 1960s, particularly in the disillusionment that followed the Altamont Free Concert of 1969, for a more commercial form of rock.[2] Key acts included Journey,[5] REO Speedwagon,[5] Foreigner,[5] Styx,[5] Kiss,[8] Peter Frampton,[8] Boston[5] and Queen.[9][10]

The use of commercial sponsorship for the large-scale tours and concerts of this era began to lead to the music being branded, usually pejoratively, as corporate rock.[11] The commercialism, and "overblown" spectacle of stadium rock has been seen as promoting a number of reactions, including the pub rock[12] and punk rock movements in the 1970s.[13] In the 1980s, arena rock became dominated by glam metal bands, following the lead of Aerosmith[14] and including Mötley Crüe, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and Ratt. Their popularity was challenged by the alternative rock bands who began to breakthrough to the mainstream, particularly after the success of Nirvana, from the early 1990s.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crystal, David (2014). Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-19-968047-7. 
  2. ^ a b c Waksman 2009, pp. 21–31.
  3. ^ Donaldson, Gary A. (2009). The Making of Modern America: the Nation from 1945 to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 248. ISBN 0-7425-4820-1. 
  4. ^ Smith, Chris (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: From Arenas to the Underground, 1974–1980. Greenwood Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-313-32937-0. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f AllMusic.
  6. ^ Weisbard, Eric (2004). This is Pop: in Search of the Elusive at Experience Music Project. Harvard University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-674-01321-2. 
  7. ^ Shuker, Roy (2002). Popular Music: the Key Concepts (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 0-415-28425-2. 
  8. ^ a b Shepherd 2003, p. 423.
  9. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock (3rd ed.). Rough Guides. p. 835. ISBN 1-84353-105-4. 
  10. ^ Thrills, Adrian (11 March 2011). "We STILL rock you: Re-releases chart Queen's rise to power". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Reynolds, William M; Webber, Julie A (2004). Expanding Curriculum Theory: Dis/positions and Lines of Flight. London: Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 0-8058-4664-6. 
  12. ^ Bennett, Andy (2006). "Even better than the real thing? Understanding the tribute band phenomenon". In Homan, Shane. Access All Eras: Tribute Bands and Global Pop Culture. Hill International. p. 26. ISBN 0-335-21690-0. 
  13. ^ Browne, Pat; Browne, Ray B. (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-87972-821-3. 
  14. ^ Joyner, David Lee (2008). American Popular Music (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education. p. 261. ISBN 0-07-352657-6. 
  15. ^ "Pop/Rock » Heavy Metal » Hair Metal". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 6 July 2010.