There isn’t one specific rock song that is universally recognized as the most popular choice for a show opener by live rock bands, as it can vary depending on the band, the audience, and the era. However, here are a few popular choices that have been used as show openers by rock bands:
Ace of Spades by Motorhead
“Ace of Spades” is a song by the British rock band Motörhead, released in 1980. The song is considered one of the band’s signature tracks and a classic of the heavy metal genre. The lyrics of the song are generally interpreted to be about gambling and the thrill of risk-taking. The “ace of spades” refers to the highest-ranking card in a deck of playing cards, and the song suggests that gambling is a way of life for the protagonist. The lyrics describe the excitement and adrenaline rush of playing high-stakes games and taking dangerous risks, with lines like “If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man / You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me.” However, the song can also be interpreted as a broader commentary on the dangers of excess and hedonism, with lyrics like “You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools / But that’s the way I like it, baby, I don’t want to live forever.” The song’s heavy, fast-paced instrumentation and aggressive vocals also contribute to its reputation as a high-energy, rebellious anthem for fans of heavy metal and hard rock.
Baba O’Riley by The Who
“Baba O’Riley” is a song by the British rock band The Who, released in 1971 on their album “Who’s Next”. The song is considered one of the band’s most iconic and enduring tracks, and has been praised for its innovative use of synthesizers and looping.
The lyrics of the song are often interpreted as a reflection on the generational tensions and social upheaval of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The song’s opening lines (“Out here in the fields / I fight for my meals”) suggest a sense of struggle and disillusionment among young people at the time. The song’s title is a combination of the names of two Indian spiritual leaders, Meher Baba, and Terry Riley. The lyrics contain references to spiritual transcendence and the search for meaning in a confusing and chaotic world.
The song’s most famous refrain, “Teenage wasteland,” has become an enduring cultural reference and is often interpreted as a commentary on the difficulties of growing up and finding one’s place in the world. The song’s dynamic instrumentation, including its use of synthesizers and violin, has been noted for its innovative and influential style and cited as a significant influence on the development of electronic music.
Back in Black by AC/DC
“Back in Black” is a song by the Australian rock band AC/DC, released in 1980 as the title track of their album of the same name. The song is considered one of the band’s most popular and enduring tracks and has become a staple of their live performances.
The lyrics of the song are generally interpreted as a tribute to the band’s former lead singer, Bon Scott, who had died earlier that year. The song’s opening lines (“Back in black / I hit the sack / I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back”) suggest a triumphant return to the music scene after a period of mourning and reflection. The song’s powerful and catchy guitar riffs, played by Angus Young, have become a hallmark of the band’s sound and have helped to make it one of the most recognizable and enduring rock songs of all time.
Although the song is often associated with Bon Scott’s death, its lyrics do not explicitly reference him. It has also been interpreted more broadly as a celebration of the power and energy of rock and roll music. The song’s title and imagery, including its distinctive black and red album cover, have also become iconic symbols of the band and of the rock and roll genre as a whole.
Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
“Crazy Train” is a song by the English rock singer Ozzy Osbourne, released in 1980 as the first single from his debut solo album, “Blizzard of Ozz”. The song is widely considered to be one of Osbourne’s most popular and enduring tracks, and has become a staple of rock radio and live performances.
The lyrics of the song are generally interpreted as a reflection on the state of the world and the human condition, with the “crazy train” serving as a metaphor for the chaotic and unpredictable nature of life. The song’s opening lines (“Crazy, but that’s how it goes / Millions of people living as foes”) suggest a sense of disillusionment and despair, while the chorus (“I’m going off the rails on a crazy train”) captures the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control.
The song’s iconic riff, played by guitarist Randy Rhoads, has become a hallmark of Osbourne’s sound and is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. The song’s powerful and dynamic instrumentation, including its use of heavy metal-style guitar solos and harmonies, has helped to make it a classic of the genre and a popular choice for movie soundtracks and sporting events.
Detroit Rock City by KISS
“Detroit Rock City” is a song by the American rock band KISS, released in 1976 on their album “Destroyer”. The song is considered one of the band’s most popular and enduring tracks, and has become a staple of their live performances.
The lyrics of the song are generally interpreted as a celebration of rock and roll music and the power of a great live show. The song’s opening lines (“I feel uptight on a Saturday night / Nine o’clock, the radio’s the only light”) suggest a sense of anticipation and excitement, while the chorus (“You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City”) captures the feeling of being swept up in the energy and excitement of a great rock concert.
The song’s title and lyrics also reference the city of Detroit, which has long been associated with the American auto industry and the birth of rock and roll. The song’s dynamic and heavy instrumentation, including its use of powerful guitar riffs and pounding drums, has helped make it a rock and roll classic and a popular choice for sports teams and other events. Despite its upbeat and celebratory tone, the song also includes a cautionary tale about the dangers of reckless driving, illustrated in its dramatic ending.
Enter Sandman by Metallica
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
Iron Man by Black Sabbath
I Wanna Rock by Twisted Sister
Jump by Van Halen
Paranoid by Black Sabbath
Raining Blood by Slayer
Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin
Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS
Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpions
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple
Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones
The Boys Are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy
Thunderstruck by AC/DC
War Pigs by Black Sabbath
We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses
We Will Rock You by Queen