The Top 10 highest grossing tours of all time
30 June 2021, 17:00
When the rock legends tour, much money changes hands. Radio X looks at the tours that made the most money and how much, exactly.
The industry titles Billboard and Pollstar are a goldmine of information for tour grosses and totals, but to make things simpler and more relatable, these figures have been adjusted for inflation to 2021 dollars, then converted into British pounds based on the current exchange rate (June 2021).
U2 360° Tour: £678 million
Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton packed their bags and headed to the Camp Npu stadium in Barcelona to kick off their latest tour on 30 June 2009. The 360° Tour was in support of their album No Line On The Horizon and immediately trumped all previous tours by the band, in that they took the biggest stage set ever constructed across the world with them, allowing the group to be seen "in the round". By the time the tour wound up on 30 July 2011 in Moncton, Canada, they'd performed to 7.2 million people and made $736 million dollars. Add a decade's worth of inflation on top and this is still the highest-grossing tour ever at $839 million.
Ed Sheeran ÷ Tour: £628 million
One of Britains' biggest exports of the past decade, this was amazingly, only Sheeran's third trek around the world, in support of his third album ÷. It began in Turin, Italy on 16 March 2017 and the final curtain came down on home turf at Ipswich's Chantry Park on 26 August 2019. With a gross of $776 million Sheeran's tour is officially the highest grossing UNTIL you adjust for inflation, in which case U2 have the bigger box-office taking.
The Rolling Stones Bigger Bang Tour: £557 million
Mick Jagger and the boys hit the road on 10 August 2005 with a surprise club show in Toronto, before business got underway in earnest at Boston MAs Fenway Park on 21 August. The veteran rockers were still at it two years later when the final show took place at London's O2 on 26 August 2007.
Guns N'Roses Not In This Lifetime... Tour: £473 million
The long-awaited reunion of the classic GN'R lineup of Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan took place at their old haunt The Troubadour in Hollywood on 1 April 2016. The tour officially ended on 2 November 2019 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, by which point the band had made $585 million. Along the way, Axl even found time to stand in for the retiring Brian Johnson as singer of AC/DC.
Coldplay Head Full Of Dreams Tour: £442 million
The British band's seventh album spawned this mammoth jaunt around the world, which unusually began in Argentina on 31 March 2016 - their first tour had started at Glasgow University's Queen Margaret's Union by way of a comparison. With a pleasing sense of coming full circle, the tour ended back in Argentina on 15 November 2017, by which point they'd taken $523 million on the door ($557 million in today's money).
The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour: £434 million
The Stones' first tour without longtime bass player Bill Wyman began its trudge around the globe in Washington DC on 1 August 1994. It ended a year later in Rotterdam and had amassed $320 million along the way - with nearly 20 years' worth of inflation on top, that's $536 million in today's money.
AC/DC Black Ice World Tour: £419 million
Acca Dacca's last tour with founding member Malcolm Young began in Pennsylvania on 28 October 2008 and the riffs didn't stop until 28 June 2010 in Bilbao, Spain. $441 million was spent on tickets in 2010 money, which adds up to $518 million today.
Roger Waters The Wall Live: £408 million
One of the founding membes ofr Pink Floyd performed the classic 1979 album in full for the first time in 20 years with this epic show that traversed the globe between 15 September 2010 and 21 September 2013.
U2 Vertigo Tour: £399 million
The Dublin boys make the list again, thanks to their shows to support the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album. They began the campaign on 28 March 2005 in San Diego and closed the book on 9 December 2006 in Honolulu. Takings in '06 were $389 million, which translates as $494 million in 2021.
Madonna: Sticky And Sweet Tour: £393 million
The Hard Candy album may not have been vintage Madge, but enough people wanted to see her show that she started the tour in Cardiff on 23 August 2008 and didn't stop until Tel Aviv on 2 September 2009. The tour made $497 million in today's cash.