Elite bands spend millions of dollars staging and delivering musical paradise, and legions of fans spend millions more at the gate to experience the audio-visual bliss. Here are the top 10 most profitable concert tours by 2014 inflation-adjusted gross takes.
10. The Police – The Police Reunion Tour – $389,051,320
After months of rumors regarding a reconciliation of the three original band members, The Police Reunion Tour kicked off on May 28, 2007. The tour was both a reunion and a farewell. Putting on 156 shows and travelling to five continents, the show wrapped up on August 7, 2008 in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. It was the final chapter for one of music’s most successful bands ever.
9. Pink Floyd – The Division Bell Tour – $393,747,194
Pink Floyd took to the road for the last time as a band with The Division Bell Tour in 1994. The always-progressive Floyd thrilled fans with Gilmore’s sublime solos, haunting melodies, and their signature combination of soundscape and visual extravaganza. Playing 120 shows, the band delivered Dark Side standards as well as emotive numbers from the newly released The Division Bell album.
8. The Rolling Stones – Licks Tour – $394,657,200
The Stones played 115 shows in their 40th anniversary tour starting on September 3, 2002, making stops in Canada, US, Europe, Asia and Australia, and wrapping up on November 9, 2003 in Hong Kong. The tour supported Forty Licks, a 40-track compilation album celebrating 40 years of Rolling Stones’ music.
7. Madonna – Sticky & Sweet Tour – $443,634,025
Madonna’s eighth tour, the 2008 – 2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour, supported the release of Madonna’s Hard Candy album. It was, and still is, the highest-grossing tour for a single artist. The 85-show song-and-dance tour featured four acts of music and hip-hop choreography giving the Queen of Pop the opportunity to display musical range and costume changes for each different act.
6. U2 – Vertigo Tour – $450,506,630
Rock powerhouse U2 went on the road with a 131-show worldwide tour spanning four continents in support of their How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album from March 2005 to December 2006. Their shows featured massive LED curtain lighting, gigantic sound systems, and huge video displays complementing their passionate, pounding rock. Ever the activist, Bono asked the crowd to support Live 8 and the fight against poverty.
5. Roger Waters – The Wall Live – $458,673,798
Costing an estimated 60 million dollars to stage, Roger Waters took Pink Floyd’s ambitious concept album, The Wall, on a worldwide concert tour performing 219 shows from September 2010 to September 2013. Shows combined stunning special effects, thrilling theatrics and incredible musicianship with anti-war sentiments and The Wall in its entirety to create a complex, immersive experience.
4. AC/DC – Black Ice World Tour – $472,220,939
Australia’s hard-rocking royalty, AC/DC, took to the road on October 28, 2008 for a worldwide tour to promote their Black Ice album. The gruelling 167-show expedition made stops in North America, Europe, Oceania, South America and Asia, played the final show on June 28, 2010, and left fans thunderstruck. It was AC/DC’s top-grossing concert ever, and rock’s fourth.
3. The Rolling Stones – Voodoo Lounge Tour – $490,238,043
The legendary Rolling Stones, icons of classic rock, launched their 124-show Voodoo Lounge Tour on August 1, 1994 in support of their Voodoo Lounge album. The Stones travelled to North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe closing out on August 30, 1995, setting a tour gross record, and giving their fans satisfaction.
2. The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang Tour – $628,496,630
Maybe it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but the Stones took it on the road again for their A Bigger Bang Tour on August 21, 2005. In the course of the next two years, they travelled to five continents, played 144 shows, headlined the half-time show at Super Bowl XL, and played a monster free concert in Rio de Janeiro – still rocking after all these years.
1. U2 – U2 360° Tour – $764,200,801
For their 2009 to 2011 U2 360° Tour, U2 introduced a revolutionary stage design that allowed fans to view the show in the round. The monstrous, industrial stage structure known as “the claw” held sound systems in each of its four legs, and suspended a massive cylindrical video screen and special lighting over the stage. Paying production costs of $750,000 a day, U2 powered out 110 shows, gave fans the ultimate blockbuster rock experience, and delivered the highest-grossing tour of all time.