When it comes to the success of a concert stage show, the quality of the sound, props and pyrotechnics can often be as important -if not more so- than the talent of the artists themselves.
Fortunately for these five acts, their live shows were some of the best of the year and though the music played a big part in this, the sparkle and pizazz of their theatrics on stage further enhanced their performances, earning them a spot on our list of top five awe-inducing concerts of the year.
#1. U2, 360-Degree World Tour
photo by Garrett Anderson
Irish-rock legend U2 were the biggest earners in 2012 and also the number one on our list. With whistles, bright lights and giant ornaments lighting up the sky of sell-out arenas, U2 pulled no punches when it came to their show. Their 360-Degree World Tour didn't disappoint fans (old and new) with an enormous LED TV screen that played everything from messages from NASA astranaunts transmitted from outerspace to old-school Joshua Tree videos. The tenticle bridges that allowed Bono to cover all four corners of the stage gave him an upclose-and-personal interaction with the crowd.
#2. Lady Gaga, Monster's Ball World Tour
photo by Dirtlive
The reigning "Queen of Pop" comes in at number two simply because her show isn't just a display of her music, but a visual spectacle that came with as many pyrotechnic effects as outfit changes. Lady Gaga's Monster's Ball World Tour has been going strong over the past three years and consistently sells out arenas because of the well-coreographed firework displays, lavish stage props (that are rumored to change weekly) and trend-setting laser light displays. All hail the queen.
#3. Roger Waters, The Wall
photo by Christian Lenard Quale
How could this list be complete without mentioning one of the founding fathers of elaborate and exciting stage shows? Founding member of legendary Pink Floyd, Roger Waters has been lighting up stages for decades and last year, Waters played "The Wall" to adorning fans where he's rumored to have invested over 35 million pounds (or 60 million-ish dollars) in a series of shows using pyrotechnics, lasers, lighting, sound and some of the best backup musicians in the world. The money was well-spent, with Waters sounding razor-sharp and in true Pink Floyd form. The show boasted some of the most incredible laser pyrotechnics ever seen! No "Dark Side" here… Waters' show is lit up!
#4. Justin Bieber, My World Tour
photo by Adam Sundana
When you think pop sensations and event fireworks and the wonderful marriage between the two, you have to think – Justin Bieber, because the two go together beautifully on his My World Tour. The flashy and strategic sparkling fireworks, elaborate show lighting and custom designed pyrotechnic effects make Bieber Fever light up arenas all over the world. The sound quality of his show is also top notch, giving shivers to his thousands of fans.
#5. Usher, OMG Tour
photo by Marco From Houston
The OMG Tour is a fitting title when talking about Usher Raymond's traveling stage show. The veteran R&B/pop sensation wowed audiences with spontaneous, unexpected explosions, moving stages and laser pyrotechnic displays that amazed concert-goers just as much as his washboard abs. From smokescreens that allowed the star to disappear and reappear elsewhere to the mega-screen that gave people no-so-close to the stage an intimate display of all of Mr. Raymond's most intimate features, Usher's show made our list last, but certainly not least.