Has bad weather ever made you scramble to change or cancel plans at the last minute? If so, imagine that your plans included tens of thousands of people who bought tickets to see you perform.
Many musicians are faced with that daunting reality when they perform live outdoor concerts, like at the Super Bowl, and the weather doesn’t cooperate.
But some musicians, including titans of the industry, have risen to the occasion, shrugged off the extreme elements and said, “The show must go on!” And then they’ve gone out on stage and delivered some of the most searing and memorable live music performances ever recorded — in some of the most famous venues, and at some of the biggest cultural events.
On a late-July night in 2013, 1990s rockers Pearl Jam took the stage at Chicago’s beloved Wrigley Field, the country’s second-oldest Major League Baseball stadium. As the band began its set, a line of thunderstorms was racing toward Chicago’s north side, and AccuWeather forecasters provided a warning to concert organizers about the looming severe weather threat.
Six songs into the set, at about 9 p.m., lead singer Eddie Vedder announced to the fans gathered on the field that the show’s organizers were “on the phone with the airport and AccuWeather” and had decided to delay the show and evacuate the field and stands. This decision especially resonates here at AccuWeather, where the core mission is to save lives and protect property.
Vedder promised disappointed fans that the curfew for the night had been extended and that the band would play a full show after the storms moved out.
Just before midnight, the thunder and lightning moved away and Pearl Jam returned to the stage. They would go on to play a few new songs, fittingly, from the album Lightning Bolt, which would be released that October. But for the first song after the long delay, the band had a surprise up its sleeve.
They welcomed to the stage Cubs legend Ernie Banks. The 81-year-old Hall of Famer, known to Cubs fans simply as “Mr. Cub,” helped Vedder with vocals on “All The Way,” a song the singer had written about his favorite baseball team’s quest to win a World Series title. It’s an amazing moment.
During the Super Bowl XLI halftime show in 2007, Prince played his fabled 1984 classic “Purple Rain” in the pouring rain while bathed in purple light. What could be more meta than that?
The powerhouse performance at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was instantly immortalized.
The camera lens was blurry with moisture, but the driving rain only seemed to embolden The Artist, who died in 2016. Attendees reportedly said it was so windy and rainy they had trouble seeing Prince’s tour-de-force performance, which consisted of a scorching setlist that night.
And the heavy rain posed technical difficulties. Not only were the cameras soaked, but so was the equipment, amps, Prince’s purple electric guitar, and the microphone. All of that amounted to one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows ever.
Cold and dry air can cause vocal fatigue and throat infections, but that didn’t stop country icon Garth Brooks when he took the stage at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana to perform the first-ever concert at the venue on Oct. 20, 2018.
Approximately 80,000 turned out in force for the 2018 concert despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions with rain and cold. Wind gusts that night were near 50 mph and some snow flurries came down, according to WSBT 22.
But the biting cold was no match for Brooks who, wearing his signature black cowboy hat, channeled Lennon and McCartney at one point with eye-opening crossover performances of two of the Beatles’ biggest hits: “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude.” Watch a clip below of Brooks singing “Hey Jude.”:
“I just wanna take a sip of tea if they’ll let me. They told me there would be tea,” a miffed Mariah Carey said as she looked around for something warm to drink during a New Year’s Eve performance in a bitterly cold Times Square during the waning moments of 2017.
“Oh, it’s a disaster. OK, well, we’ll just have to rough it. I’m going to be like everybody else, with no hot tea,” Carey said before plunging into a moving rendition of her 1993 chart-topping hit “Hero” from the album Music Box.
On that day, Dec. 31, 2017, the high temperature reached just 21 degrees and the low bottomed out at 9. The low on Jan. 1 was 7 degrees, so AccuWeather meteorologists suggest it was probably in the lower teens or single digits during her performance.
The unscripted hot tea request, hardly an unreasonable one given the weather, instantly went viral and became the first meme of 2018 — but Carey redeemed herself with the stirring “Hero” performance, prompting host Ryan Seacrest to declare, “And that is why she is Mariah Carey.” Then he fetched her a cup of tea.
“I’ve been looking at the weather reports tonight from MetLife Stadium,” Taylor Swift said in a video posted on her Instagram stories in the hours before a July 21, 2018, concert at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “Uh, it’s 80 to 90 percent chance of rain. But we like the rain, don’t we? I love it, personally,” she told fans, her mother looking on with visible concern on her face. Swift, of course, is no stranger to giving performances in the type of rain made possible by movie magic. The rain that fell on that night was all courtesy of Mother Nature.
The weather reports Swift had read were correct and a drenching rain fell throughout her performance, but she shook off the raindrops and put on a fun performance. In pictures and videos from the concert, T-Swift can be seen laughing and dancing in the rain — something she relished in a post on Instagram after the show.
And when she picked up the acoustic guitar for a solo performance of the title track from her 2008 album Fearless, which hit the top 10 on both Billboard’s Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs lists, the soaking rain couldn’t slow her down. And it didn’t slow down the audience, which sang along with her.
It’s not uncommon to see rain in a music video for an added dramatic effect, but during the Goo Goo Dolls’ performance of “Iris” from the band’s 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl, the rain poured down, providing the same dramatic effect live.
Fans and the band alike that braved the torrential downpour were soaked during a 2004 Fourth of July concert in Buffalo, New York. More than 60,000 fans, some holding umbrellas, swayed their arms back and forth as lead singer Johnny Rzeznik sang to them, “I don’t want to miss you tonight.”
The band finished the set, despite being pulled off-stage briefly for a safety precaution, which caused them to skip a few songs.
Breaking the Guinness’ world’s coldest concert record, singer Charlie Simpson’s vocal cords withstood the seemingly impossible test of singing in minus 22 degree Fahrenheit weather in Siberia in December 2012 — and his voice didn’t seem affected at all.
To set the world record, Charlie was required to play a set for a full 15 minutes and was allowed breaks of no more than 30 seconds between songs.
It took the singer-songwriter four days just to reach the remote location where the record would be broken — Oymyakon, Siberia, which is said to be the coldest inhabited place on Earth.