The Top 10 highest grossing tours of all time

4 June 2022, 12:00

The U2 360° Tour - history's highest grossing tour?
The U2 360° Tour - history's highest grossing tour? Picture: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

When the rock legends tour, much money changes hands. Radio X looks at the tours that made the most money and how much, exactly.

By Martin O'Gorman

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 2022 dollars, then converted into British pounds based on the current exchange rate (June 2022).

  1. U2 360° Tour: £704 million

    Bono and The Edge kick off the highest grossing tour in history at the Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona, 30 June 2009
    Bono and The Edge kick off the highest grossing tour in history at the Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona, 30 June 2009. Picture: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

  2. Ed Sheeran ÷ Tour: £653 million

    "Only 259 more shows to go!" Ed Sheeran kicks off his mammoth ÷ Tour in Turin, 16th March 2017
    "Only 259 more shows to go!" Ed Sheeran kicks off his mammoth ÷ Tour in Turin, 16th March 2017. Picture: Rodolfo Sassano / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

  3. The Rolling Stones Bigger Bang Tour: £579 million

    The Stones' Bigger Bang tour at the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, 6 November 2006
    The Stones' Bigger Bang tour at the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, 6 November 2006. Picture: John Green/Oakland Tribune/ZUMA Press

    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.

  4. Guns N'Roses Not In This Lifetime... Tour: £492 million

    Axl Rose and Slash play Rock In Rio, 24th September 2017
    Axl Rose and Slash play Rock In Rio, 24th September 2017. Picture: A.PAES / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

  5. Coldplay Head Full Of Dreams Tour: £469 million

    Chris Martin of Coldplay in San Diego, 8th October 2017
    Chris Martin of Coldplay in San Diego, 8th October 2017. Picture: ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

    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).

  6. The Rolling Stones - No Filter Tour: £460 million

    The Rolling Stones, still going strong in September 2021, despite the loss of drummer Charlie Watts
    The Rolling Stones, still going strong in September 2021, despite the loss of drummer Charlie Watts. Picture: UPI / Alamy Stock Photo

    Despite the COVID pandemic interrupting it for two years and the death of longtime member Charlie Watts in August 2021, the Stones' latest tour has shot into the Top 10, proving that the veteran rockers can still pull in an audience. The No Filter Tour kicked off in Hamburg on 9th September 2017, paused in August 2019 and resumed, with Steve Jordan in the drum stool on 20th September 2021. The remaining Stones - Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood - show no signs of slowing down as they kick off their SIXTIETH anniversary tour on 1st June 2022.

  7. The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour: £452 million

    Mick Jagger sees the finishing line clearly in sight at the Don Valley Stadium, in Sheffield as the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour arrives on 9 July 1995
    Mick Jagger sees the finishing line clearly in sight at the Don Valley Stadium, in Sheffield as the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour arrives on 9 July 1995. Picture: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

    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 $569 million in today's money.

  8. AC/DC Black Ice World Tour: £435 million

    Brian Johnson and Angus Young reach the midway point of AC/DC's Black Ice Tour in Rotterdam, 13th March 2009.
    Brian Johnson and Angus Young reach the midway point of AC/DC's Black Ice Tour in Rotterdam, 13th March 2009. Picture: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

  9. Roger Waters The Wall Live: £423 million

    Roger Waters, still alienated after all these years, performing The Wall at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, 29th November 2010.
    Roger Waters, still alienated after all these years, performing The Wall at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, 29th November 2010. Picture: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

  10. U2 Vertigo Tour: £415 million

    Bono tells fans how many years he'll be on the Vertigo Tour with U2 on the opening night at San Diego Sports Center, 28 March 2005
    Bono tells fans how many years he'll be on the Vertigo Tour with U2 on the opening night at San Diego Sports Center, 28 March 2005. Picture: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.