Home > Culture > Events > Elton John and 15 other highest-grossing concert tours of all time
Elton John and 15 other highest-grossing concert tours of all time

The world is swaying to pop sensation Taylor Swift’s beats right now as she garners the loudest cheers and applause with her sold-out The Eras Tour. According to many reports, the 52-stop concert is on its way to becoming one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time.

The tour, which started in March 2023 and concludes in August this year, is proving to be a major extravaganza. Swifties, as the American singer-songwriter’s fans are nicknamed worldwide, are more than thrilled as The Eras Tour marks her sixth headlining tour and second all-stadium concert after the 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour. As per an April 2023 Forbes report, The Eras Tour is forecast to reach the top tiers of gross collections and earn about USD 620 million (inr 50,68,23,03,000) of which Swift can pocket about USD 500 million (inr 40,87,28,25,000).

Such a gross collection is possible if an average audience ticket price is USD 215. However, if the average ticket price reaches USD 700 (INR 57,221.96), Taylor Swift’s net earnings could be as high as USD 1.5 billion (INR 1,22,61,84,75,000). Besides tickets, merchandise sales also account for a major source of tour revenue.

Some highest-grossing figures from 2022

After becoming the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2022, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny also became the artist with the highest-grossing concert tour that year. He embarked on the World’s Hottest Tour in August, which concluded in December with back-to-back shows in Mexico. Its gross score was around USD 435.38 million with over 81 stops and even surpassed the figures of Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour.

Not just him. Days after Pollstar announced that Bad Bunny garnered the highest-grossing tour in North America and the rest of the world, marketplace StubHub revealed that British singer and composer Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour became one of the highly demanded concerts of 2022.

As per Billboard, all of John’s tours, dating back to 1986, together grossed USD 1.863 billion — the highest for any solo artist.

The highest-grossing tours of all time, from the lowest to the highest



This story first appeared on Prestige Online.

1 /16

'World Tour with Trisha Yearwood' by Garth Brooks

Gross earnings: around USD 364.3 million (INR 29,77,99,40,295)

In September 2014, American singer-songwriter Garth Brooks embarked on his three-year world tour with his superstar wife, Trisha Yearwood. The stops were revealed one at a time, arousing the curiosity of fans. It opened with a huge 11-event run in Chicago, where 180,000 rockets were sold in three hours. The couple then went to Atlanta and after three years, concluded the trek — one of the highest-grossing concert tours— in Nashville in 2017.

Though the tour ended after three years, Brooks was in no mood to slow down and released The Anthology Part 1, The First of Five Years, a 200-page book with archival photos and personal stories.

Image credit: Garth Brooks/ Instagram

2 /16

'24k Magic World Tour' by Bruno Mars

Gross earnings: around USD 367.7 million (INR 30,05,78,75,505)

Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic World Tour is one of the highest-grossing concert tours of the late 2010s. Held from March 2017 to October 2018, it was in support of his Grammy Award-winning album 24k Magic. It included some iconic tracks such as “Finesse,” “24K Magic,” “That’s What I Like,” “Versace on the Floor” and “Marry You.”

The tour started in Belgium and had a full European trek, followed by North American dates. The following year, the tour was brought to Asia in April and May and was then hosted in the US and Canada in September and October.

All the shows were also supposed to feature Cardi B, but the rapper pulled out in July 2018, following the birth of her daughter.

Image credit: Bruno Mars/Instagram

3 /16

'Vertigo' by U2

Gross earnings: around USD 389 million (INR 31,79,90,57,850)

One of the highest-grossing tours of U2, the Vertigo concert was conceptualised to boost the Irish group’s 2004 album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. It reached the No. 1 spot in 30 countries and bagged several Grammy Awards, including Album of The Year, at the 20th edition of the award night.

Divided into four legs between 2005 and 2006, the Vertigo tour had 131 shows across the US, starting in San Diego and concluding in Honolulu; each amassed an average gross of over USD 3 million. The first US leg had guest performances from Kings of Leon, which was followed by the likes of Interpol and Kaiser Chiefs in Europe.

Image credit: U2.com

4 /16

'The Joshua Tree Tour' by U2

Gross earnings: around USD 390.7 million (INR 31,93,80,25,455)

U2’s Joshua Tree Tour had two runs — one in 2017 and the other in 2019. The first trek became one of the highest-grossing tours and had successful shows across North America, Europe and South America. Ticket sales grossed over USD 2.4 million and became one of the highest-grossing events of the time.

Celebrating 30 years of the band’s 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, the tour had some pretty hefty figures — in 66 shows, the group garnered an average gross of USD 6 million (INR 49,04,73,900) per show. Some of the featured guests on the 2017 tour include The Lumineers, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Beck and One Republic.

In 2019, U2 went to the other side of the world and performed at sold-out shows in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and India between November and December.

Image credit: U2.com

5 /16

'Beautiful Trauma World Tour' by P!NK

Gross earnings: over USD 397 million (INR 32,45,30,23,050)

The Beautiful Trauma World Tour was announced in October 2017 and around the same time, P!NK launched her seventh studio LP (long play) of the same name. From its inception, the tour saw an overwhelming surge in demand and more dates had to be added to the already-planned Australian and North American legs.

Soon after its release, the LP peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and the subsequent tour became a massive hit. It spanned 156 shows, sold 3,088,647 tickets and the gross earned became the highest in P!NK’s career.

The 2019 UK shows had Vance Joy, KidCutUp and Bang Bang Romeo as guest performers. The tour clocked in as the second highest-grossing tour by a female artist after Madonna, and the “biggest by a woman in a decade,” reports Billboard.

Image credit: P!nk/@pink/Instagram

6 /16

'Sticky & Sweet Tour' by Madonna

Gross earnings: around USD 411 million (INR 33,59,74,62,150)

Madonna hit the roads with this world tour to promote her eighth studio album, Hard Candy. The concert tour was held from 2008 to 2009 and with just 85 shows in 32 countries, she brought in a total of 3.5 million audiences. It had an average gross of USD 3 million per show as well.

Billboard mentions, as part of the tour, the singer created an all-time record for amassing the biggest crowd in Zurich, Switzerland, as 72,000 people dropped in. It also broke her previous record of the highest-grossing concert tour — her Confessions tour in 2006 collected USD 194 million (INR 15,85,86,56,100), as per Billboard Boxscore. At the end of the tour, Madonna’s outing stood second to The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour.

Madonna may not feature in the top 10 acts, but Sticky & Sweet is the highest-grossing tour by a solo female artist. However, with the current projections, Taylor Swift might soon take over the title with her The Eras Tour.

Image credit: Madonna/ Instagram

7 /16

'WorldWired Tour' by Metallica

Gross earnings: over USD 416.9 million (INR 34,07,97,61,485)

The two-year concert tour was in support of the heavy metal band’s Grammy-nominated studio album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct (2016). The tour saw James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo belt out popular tracks and take metalheads across the globe on a frenzied ride. With 128 shows, an attendance of 4 million fans and per show grossing about USD 3 million (INR 24,52,36,950), the tour was an iconic one.

The tour featured a massive crew of 235 heads, a 360-degree stage with three scaffoldings that were erected and dismantled for each show and five gigantic screens to let fans catch all the actions on stage.

Metallica wowed fans with songs like “Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!” from their new album as well as played other forever favourites — “Seek and Destroy”, “Creeping Death” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Reportedly, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct was supposed to have a 2020 leg as well but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image credit: Metallica/ Instagram

8 /16

'Black Ice World Tour' by AC/DC

Gross earnings: over USD 441 million (INR 36,04,98,31,650)

Acca Dacca, better known as AC/DC, went on one of their highest-grossing tours from 2008 to 2010, in support of their 15th studio album Black Ice. With 169 shows across the US, Canada, Europe and South America over three years, the Australian rock n’ roll act travelled extensively to promote their album.

The concerts garnered an audience of over 5 million fans, and the tour was guitarist Malcolm Young’s last with the band before he quit due to health problems. It remains AC/DC’s biggest trek ever.

Image credit: AC/DC.net

9 /16

'The Wall Live' by Roger Waters

Gross earnings: nearly USD 460 million (INR 37,60,29,99,000)

Former frontman of the British rock band Pink Floyd, Roger Waters set out on The Wall Live tour in 2010 and had an immensely successful music trek that concluded in 2013. It marks the first time the iconic 1979 album The Wall was performed live.

One of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time, the 220-show tour spanned six legs and covered North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The final leg itself made a major highlight by collecting USD 81.3 million (INR 6,64,59,21,345) in ticket sales from 26 cities in Europe. When it grossed USD 459 million (INR 37,52,12,53,350) as a solo artist tour, The Wall Live broke the record created by Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet of 2008-2009.

Image credit: Roger Waters/ Instagram

10 /16

'A Head Full of Dreams Tour' by Coldplay

Gross earnings: over USD 523 million (INR 42,75,29,74,950)

The world tour was in support of their 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams. It began in 2016 in Argentina and charted out a full circle when it ended in the same country the following year.

The tour sold nearly 5.3 million tickets and covered 114 shows in 76 cities, including San Diego, Sao Paulo, Glasgow, Amsterdam and London, across 31 countries. When the music trek began, it garnered a footfall of over 5 million and not only became one of the highest-grossing tours of all time but also broke other Coldplay concert records.

The album’s two singles “Adventure of a Lifetime” and “Hymn For The Weekend” even appeared in the US Top 40 on the Hot 100 list. The latter also saw a collaboration with Beyoncé and featured a vibrant India.

Image credit: Coldplay/Instagram

11 /16

'No Filter Tour' by The Rolling Stones

Gross earnings: USD 546.5 million (INR 44,67,39,97,725)

The Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour continues to be one of the highest-grossing tours in recent times. The band started the classic music trek in September 2017, paused in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed in 2021.

The first leg took place in Europe, followed by the next in 2018 across Europe, including the UK and Ireland. The 2019 leg took the rock n roll group to America and by then, they had reportedly grossed USD 415.6 million (INR 33,97,34,92,140).

The 2021 chapter also marked their first tour, except for the band’s legendary drummer Charles Watts who passed away at 80 in August 2021. The North American dates in September started with an event in St. Louis, followed by another in Charlotte and then made its way across the USA through Nashville and Detroit. The tour ended in Hollywood.

A long-time associate of Watts, Steve Jordan, filled his place, and the Nashville event stood witness to live renditions of tracks such as “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Dead Flowers” and “Miss You.”

Image credit: The Rolling Stones/Instagram

12 /16

'A Bigger Bang Tour' by The Rolling Stones

Gross earnings: USD 558.2 million (INR 45,63,04,21,830)

A cult band of the time, The Rolling Stones started their A Bigger Bang Tour in 2005, and the final show was held in 2007. A 2005 Hindustan Times report says the opening concert saw the boys play iconic songs like “Sart Me Up,” “You Got Me Rocking,” “Shattered” and “Tumbling Dice” and introduce a new track from their then about-to-be-released album A Bigger Bang. The 144-event tour sold nearly 4.9 million tickets and became a major milestone for The Rolling Stones.

The main highlight of the tour came on 18 February 2006, when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts hosted a free-for-all show and performed a series of new songs for a massive crowd of over 1.5 million at Rio De Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach. This show is now remastered and remixed into a DVD collection which features four additional tracks — “Tumbling Dice”, “Oh No, Not You Again”, “This Place Is Empty” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Image credit: The Rolling Stones/ Instagram

13 /16

'Not in this Lifetime Tour' by Guns N’ Roses

Gross earnings: USD 584.2 million (INR 47,75,58,08,730)

Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose once said, “Not in this Lifetime,” commenting about collaborating with guitarist Slash. However, as destiny would have it, his own words became the name of the tour which brought together Rose, Slash and bassist Duff McKagan.

In 2019, it was the highest-grossing tour by an American act and currently stands as the fourth highest-grossing concert tour of all time. It officially started on 1 April 2016 at the Troubadour in Hollywood and the curtains were officially drawn on 2 November 2019 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, US. The trek covered six continents, sold over 5.37 million tickets and hosted 158 events.

Image credit: Guns N’ Roses/ Instagram

14 /16

'360° Tour' by U2

Gross earnings: USD 730 million (INR 59,67,43,24,500)

With the three-legged 360° Tour spanning 2009 to 2011, Irish rock band U2 recorded the highest-grossing tour of the time. The record was later broken by Ed Sheeran with his 2017 Divide Tour.

In support of their album No One Line On Horizon, the tour had a budget of nearly USD 750,000 (INR 6,13,09,237) per day. Covering North America, South America, Russia, Europe and Australia, the tour featured a huge video wall, a crew of 300 people and over 7 million audiences placed all around.

In terms of creating records, the band had the biggest stage with a gigantic 200-ton arachnid structure called ‘The Claw’, the loudest speakers ever at a rock ‘n roll concert and the most technologically advanced setting. The tour also featured some eminent guest performers such as the Black Eyed Peas, Jay Z, One Republic and Snow Patrol.

Image credit: U2

15 /16

' ÷ Tour' by Ed Sheeran

Gross earnings: USD 775.6 million (INR 63,40,19,26,140)

Reigning over stadiums from March 2017 to August 2019 with his ÷ Tour, Ed Sheeran held three Guinness World Records — the highest attendance for a music tour, the highest-grossing music tour by a solo artist and the highest-grossing music tour.

The English singer-songwriter embarked on this tour in support of his chart-topping third album ÷ and saw a staggering attendance of over 8.9 million fans. Such a massive footfall earned around USD 3 million (INR 24,52,36,950) per show across 255 events. Hence, Sheeran’s tour remains the highest in terms of record tickets sold on a single trek.

Over the two years, the Divide Tour amassed over USD 600 million globally which catapult him onto the Forbes 2019 list of Celebrity 100 Earnings. The publication says, “Sales from the first show took the tour’s gross to $736.8 million, surpassing the record held by U2 for eight years.” The last show was part of a four-night event and collected USD 12.9 million (INR 1,05,45,18,885) through 139,984 tickets itself.

The popular tour became the most profitable music trek ever after it racked up USD 736.7 million (INR 60,22,20,20,355) post its 250th stop at Messegelände Hannover (Hanover Fairground) in Germany on 2 August 2019. What makes this even more special is that Sheeran performs with just a guitar, sans dancers, costume changes and special effects.

Image credit: Ed Sheeran/ @teddysphotos/ Instagram

16 /16

'Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour' by Elton John

Gross earnings: USD 817. 9 million (INR 66,85,97,67,135)

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour began in 2018. After five years of extensive travelling, playing over 278 sold-out concerts with over 5 million fans, it is the highest-grossing tour worldwide of all time. It is also the first tour in Billboard’s archive to cross the USD 800 million mark.

The concert earned the whopping amount from its eight legs and has sold over 5.3 million (INR 43,32,51,945) tickets, as per a January 2023 Forbes report. Initially, John started the tour with shows in North America, Europe and Oceania before making his way to grand stadiums in the last year of the trek.

Billboard states, “John’s first three North American legs combined to USD 268.2 million (INR 21,92,41,83,330) over 116 shows. His stadium run from July – Nov. 2022 brought in USD 222.1 million (INR 18,15,57,08,865), or 83 per cent of his arena grosses, in just 33 shows.”

Such high figures were also achieved in the other continents, and 51 more dates are lined up between March and September 2023 for the last Europe leg of the tour.

On 24 January 2023, Guinness World Records named Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour the highest-grossing tour of all time.

Image credit: Elton John/ Instagram

Hero and featured image: Courtesy Elton John/ Instagram

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which is the highest-earning tour of all time?

Answer: Elton John’s ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour’ is the highest-earning tour of all time.

Question: Which is the highest-grossing debut concert tour?

Answer: Lady Gaga’s ‘Monster Ball’ tour is the biggest tour ever by a debut headlining artist. It grossed USD 227.4 million and had a footfall of 2.5 million people.

Question: Which is the highest-grossing tour on Billboard?

Answer: Elton John’s ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour’ is the highest-earning tour to date in the history of Billboard.

Question: Which is the highest-grossing tour by a country artist in history?

Answer: To date, Grath Brooks’ ‘World Tour with Trisha Yearwood’ is the highest-grossing country tour.

Elton John and 15 other highest-grossing concert tours of all time

Trinetra is an ardent foodie and bibliophile who writes about films, travel, food and lifestyle. As a writer and literature student, slam poetry and storytelling are her go to jam. When not working, Trinetra is busy looking for her next place to visit or binge-watching Instagram videos for travel inspiration.


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