6 HBO Concert Specials That Paved the Way for ‘On the Run’

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s upcoming live HBO concert special, On the Run, has garnered plenty of buzz in recent weeks. But fan anticipation seems to be at an all time high after the network released a new trailer for the event on Monday. It’s no surprise that there’s such excitement surrounding the special, given the world’s fascination with the music industry’s arguably most powerful and adored couple. Still, Beyoncé and Jay Z are actually just the latest in a long list of artists who have brought one of their concerts to the small screen. Take a look at 6 of HBO’s iconic concert specials before On The Run airs in September.

Whitney Houston, Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston

The 1991 special marked Houston’s first ever solo televised concert. The show was meant a tribute to Gulf War veterans and their families, following her famous performance of “The Star-Bangled Banner” at the Super Bowl. The concert itself was only open to about 3,100 people, but plenty of people caught it on the small screen. The special earned record viewership for the network, bringing in around 7.9 million viewers. Houston went on to participate in two more concert specials with HBO, Whitney — The Concert for a New South Africa in 1994 and Classic Whitney Live From Washington D.C. in 1997.


Michael Jackson, Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour

Broadcast on HBO in October 1992, the special was described in media reports at the time as “the largest financial deal for a concert performance on television.” Jackson earned a reported $20 million for agreeing to the two-hour broadcast, which marked the first time Jackson televised a full-length concert. It was recorded during a show in Bucharest, Romania during the European leg of his “Dangerous Tour” and aired on radio and TV in over 60 countries around the world. The concert special set a record for HBO at the time, becoming the channel’s highest rated special ever and earned Jackson a CableAce Award.


Barbra Streisand, Barbra: The Concert

Streisand captured portions of her 1993-1994 concert tour in this two-hour TV special, which garnered around 11.2 million viewers. An edited version of the special was released in a CD in 1995. That same year, CBS broadcast an alternate edit of the HBO show, labeling it a new special. Still, it was the HBO version that won the George Foster Peabody Award. This was the second time a Streisand special won that particular award, with 1965’s My Name is Barbra earning the first. Barbra the Concert also earned ten Emmy nominations, winning five.


Madonna, Madonna Live: The Drowned World Tour

Broadcast live from the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit, Michigan, this 2001 special marked the singer’s third project with HBO — a follow-up to 1990′s Blond Ambition and 1993′s Girlie Show. The tour, in support of seventh and eighth studio albums, was Madonna’s fifth overall. Madonna Live: The Drowned World Tour attracted some 5.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, and just barely topped her previous 1993 performance, which earned around 5.4 million viewers. It also marked the highest rated music special on the network since 1999 when a Cher concert was broadcast live.


Britney Spears, Britney Spears Live from Las Vegas

The concert special was recorded at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas during Spears’ 2001-2002 “Dream Within a Dream” world tour and was broadcast on HBO in November 2001. It earned around 5 million viewers and won an Emmy in 2002 for Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Special. The special came back to haunt Spears last year, though, when a video from the HBO airing resurfaced, with the audio from her microphone isolated. The clip sparked a backlash against Spears, who is currently back in Las Vegas for her two-year run of shows.


Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour

Like Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On The Run, Gaga’s two-hour special, recorded live at Madison Square Garden in 2011, was heavily promoted and highly anticipated. The broadcast, which also featured footage from backstage and the hours before the concert, aired one day after the last show of her Monster Ball tour. The special received generally positive reviews from critics and garnered around 1.2 million viewers for HBO. It also earned five Emmy award nominations, going on to win one for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Special.

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