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Top 10 places to enjoy outdoor summer music

(Shanghai Daily)

08:14, July 24, 2013

They have beauty and great acoustics: Irish castles, natural sandstone amphitheaters in the Rockies, Roman and Grecian stages, and venues on the beach or bay - these are world-class locations for outdoor summer concerts. Paul Casciato picks the 10 best destinations.

Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado, United States

More than a mile high and forged by over 160 million years of shifting sands and sandstone, Red Rocks is an amphitheater like no other. The natural acoustics, surrounding landscape and big sky vistas combine to make an amazing concert setting. And, if the star power coming from the sky isn't enough of a draw, the glittering stage line-up will lure you. Imagine shows from Sting, Darius Rucker, Big Head Todd, Widespread Panic, Robert Plant, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, BB King and Peter Frampton and George Thorogood in an intimate setting (fewer than 10,000 people and seats as close as 10 feet from the stage). That's just a sampling of what's on tap.

Slane Castle, County Meath, Ireland

Along the shores of the River Boyne, 30 minutes north of Dublin, lies Slane Castle, the ancestral home of the Conyngham family. For over 300 years, that family has called the castle home, but for the last 30 plus years, so has rock and roll. Starting with Thin Lizzy in 1981, concerts in a natural amphitheater in the shadow of the castle have been a summer tradition at Slane. Now crowds of 80,000 people flock to the 6.1-million-square-meter estate for majestic shows from classic bands like the Rolling Stones (2007) to more modern favorites like Oasis (2009) and Kings of Leon (2011). This summer Bon Jovi will grace the grounds, giving audiences a mix of classic rock and regal living. U2 is best able to attest to life at the castle, having performed there three times and even lived and recorded there.

Theater Antique d'Orange, Orange, France

This classic Roman amphitheater showcases the setting and acoustics of the ancients. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Theater Antique features an incredibly preserved stage wall that bore witness to the shows of Roman times. Now the 100-meter-long, 37-meter- high wall is the backdrop to an annual opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange, and a diverse and international music line-up ranging from The Cure in 1986 to DJ Laurent Wolf's 2009 "Wash My World Festival" to upcoming shows by Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Italian opera duo Patrizia Ciofi and Leo Nucci. Audiences enjoy excellent sound quality projected from the wall and marvel at the statue of Apollo at center stage and the columns and complex array of theater entrances and structures dating back thousands of years.

The Gorge Amphitheater, George, Washington, United States

The Columbia River canyon, the Cascade Mountains and The Who. That's what you get as a show sitting on the lawn at The Gorge Amphitheater. The simple stage and hillside seating make it clear the scenery, a sweeping vista down the Columbia River with a backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, and the music are the draws. The Who is just one of many big names to perform backed up by the gorgeous view. The Gorge has hosted everyone from David Bowie to the Dave Matthews Band and been the site of numerous festivals, including Lilith Fair and Lollapalooza. Look for John Mayer, Phish and Black Sabbath, among others, this summer.

Dalhalla, Rattvik, Sweden

It seems fitting that Earth, Wind and Fire is one of the acts coming to Dalhalla this summer. This limestone quarry turned music venue is another great example of the elements delivering a natural stage. Thanks to a meteorite strike that left the region rich in limestone and 50 years of excavation, a perfectly shaped acoustic bowl emerged. Now crowds descend into the 55-meter-deep, 400-meter-long hole for the ultimate in surround sound experiences. The dramatic layers of rock that rise above just add to the visual effect. Look for Toto, Sting and Patti Smith to add their music to the mix this summer as well.

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