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Barcelona-Madrid rivalry extends to live music

The Spanish capital is set to host an unprecedented number of stadium concerts this year following the reopening of Real's Bernabéu

By James Hanley on 16 Jan 2024

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

image © Валерий Дед

The famous football rivalry between La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid is spilling over into international touring following the refurbishment of the latter’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Home of the 14 times European champions, the Bernabéu (cap. 65,000 for concerts) reopened for music bookings last year following an extensive renovation. It will host the sole Spanish date of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on 30 May and three nights with Karol G from 20-22 July, as well as performances by Duki, Manuel Carrasco, Luis Miguel (two shows) and Aitana.

The venue has both a retractable roof and pitch – enabling it to stage live music shows all-year-round (the Aitana show is scheduled for 28 December).

Elsewhere, Civitas Metropolitan Stadium – home ground of Real’s city neighbours Atlético Madrid – has three upcoming shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and two concerts by Metallica, plus dates with Estopa and Morat, bringing the number of stadium gigs in the Spanish capital in 2024 to an unprecedented 16.

FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou is currently out of action due to renovation, with work expected to be completed in 2026. However, the club’s temporary home – the city’s 56,000-cap Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys – attracted nine concerts in 2023, including the likes of Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé and Madonna. It has four shows announced for 2024: Springsteen (two nights), Rammstein and Estopa.

Nouvelles du Monde notes that Barcelona’s proximity to the French border has traditionally boosted tourism, but Madrid now benefits from its peninsular centrality.

“Madrid is becoming more competitive, and even more so this year with Barça at the Estadi”

“Madrid is becoming more competitive, and even more so this year with Barça at the Estadi,” Live Nation Spain president Pino Sagliocco tells the publication, while Tito Ramoneda, president of The Project, declares “a new era begins”.

Doctor Music’s Neo Sala, however, notes that although the Madrid stadiums have “much improved their infrastructures”, that is “not decisive for international tours, in which other factors must be taken into account account: geographical, strategic and technical”.

The Bernabéu hired former Live Nation Spain partnerships director Rocio Vallejo-Nágera in 2023 as head of large events and concerts.

“We are treating it like a new stadium,” she told IQ last year. “Up until now, there have been some concerts here – Bruce Springsteen in 2016 and the Rolling Stones in 2014 – but it hasn’t really been a big thing to do at the Bernabeu. It wasn’t built for football, not music, because the production tunnels were too narrow, etc. So we’ve changed that, and that’s why I’m here.

“I think in the past 10 years, Madrid has become one of the main cities for global tours. Some years ago, maybe Barcelona was a little bit more blooming, but I think Madrid is taking its place in the international touring agenda as a main place to visit.”


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