Hot Tours: Bon Jovi, Tiesto, Scorpions
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 26: Bon Jovi performs at New Meadowlands Stadium on May 26, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Bon Jovi has launched its London O2 Arena residency - returning to the venue they officially launched three years ago.

Rob Hallett, AEG Live president of international touring, is predicting that tickets sales for the band's current tour will easily out-perform the 2007-2008 Lost Highway trek.

The band's AEG Live promoted London residency, which began last night (June 7) with the first of 12 sell out shows at the O2 Arena and stretches until June 26, will see the band perform to over 175,000 people, according to Hallett. (The O2 Arena has a 23,000 capacity although many rock and pop shows are configured at around 17,000).

The New Jersey rockers staged an audacious roof-top gig at London's O2 Arena yesterday to launch their 12-night run. Performing in windy conditions on a temporary stage located in the middle of the O2's domed roof, the band played four songs -- "We Weren't Born To Follow," "Superman Tonight," You Give Love A Bad Name" and "It's My Life" - before beginning the 30-minute descent, assisted by mountaineering experts.

A crowd of several hundred fans amassed outside the London venue to watch the free roof-top gig being relayed live on TV screens outside the O2. Footage from the afternoon concert was also broadcast live on commercial TV Network Sky News with edited footage due to be serviced to digital platforms, including Bon Jovi's website, later today (June 8), according to a spokesperson for the band.

"We like to push the envelope and do things that people normally don't do," guitarist Richie Sambora explained to Billboard after the roof top gig. "We like to do stuff that has impact because I think that people remember those things as big events and they become part of rock lore, part of history and part of rock culture."

In June 2007 Bon Jovi became the first band to perform at the O2 arena, officially opening the AEG owned venue.

Bon Jovi's previous world trek, the Lost Highway tour, was the biggest grossing tour of 2008. The mammoth global trek, which was also promoted in North America and Europe by AEG Live, grossed $210.6 million and drew 2,157,675 fans, according to Billboard Boxscore (Billboard.biz, Dec. 11, 2008).

Hallett predicts that the band's current "The Circle" tour, which began back earlier this year and culminates at the end of 2011, will supersede that figure.

"We'll beat Lost Highway easily," Hallett tells Billboard.biz. "I can't see anyone coming close to this tour. U2 would have been our only challenger but unfortunately Bono's hurt his back and we hope that he recovers quickly. But Bon Jovi, I think, will be head and shoulders above anyone else."

"To actually remain contemporary after all these years is cool, man," says a buoyant Sambora. "Let's face it, there's not that many bands doing it anymore," he goes on to say before revealing that retirement for the veteran rock band is still a long way off yet.

"Absolutely man," he enthusiastically tells Billboard.biz. "This ain't stopping. We're having too much fun. We're going to come and do a proper stadium tour of the European continent next summer and we're going to release a greatest hits around fall with some new tracks on it."

He continues, "About three weeks ago Jon calls me up and says, 'let's write a couple more songs just for fun.' So we wrote a couple of songs and they turned out real good... so there's now four new songs on the greatest hits. We haven't released a greatest hits since 1995 so that will give us product through to the summer of 2011."

Sambora also joked that the band's decision to hold a 12-date residency at London's O2 Arena was down to drummer Tico Torres.

"Tico made a decree and said, 'we will not move for a month,' and that was the end of it," said Sambora.