Roger Waters Tops Mid-Year Touring Chart
Roger Waters' The Wall Live tour is continuing on its blockbuster pace, finishing as the highest-grossing year so far in Billboard's Mid-Year Charts, according to Boxscore. The midyear numbers are based on concerts reported to Billboard Boxscore that took place Nov. 1, 2011, through May 31, 2012.
For this Boxscore, Waters is easily the highest-grossing tour on the road, reporting $131.4 million in box office and 1.2 million tickets sold. Set to end July 21 at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, the Wall outing will go down as one of the biggest tours in history both in terms of box-office performance and creative ambition. The final tally for the tour will exceed $350 million and 3 million in attendance.
Waters' reconceived conception of a 33-year-old album has been a hit in both stadiums and arenas since the tour began in 2010, with two runs through North America, trips across Europe and a journey into South America that included one of the highest Boxscores ever reported: Nine sellouts at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires promoted by Pop Art last March that took in nearly $38 million. In total, The Wall Live registered eight of the top 25 Boxscores for the midyear report, six of them from Latin America.
Another tour that falls into the "event" category, and represents powerful new content for arenas, is the Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour by Cirque du Soleil, which rang up $68.4 million at the box office and more than 600,000 tickets sold for the period, according to Boxscore.
Next is Bruce Springsteen, who, with his E Street Band, is back with a vengeance this year, with epic shows (even by Springsteen standards) in the band's first tour without the late Clarence Clemons. The first leg of Springsteen's tour in support of Wrecking Ball racked up $52.3 million in gross ticket sales and 588,356 in attendance. As Springsteen charges through Europe and begins playing a slew of North American stadium dates later this summer, the numbers will increase substantially.
While Springsteen has been filling stadiums and arenas for decades, a relative newcomer to touring's upper ranks, Lady Gaga, is on a course to be one of the top touring artists of 2012. The first 16 shows of her second major trek reported during the midyear recap period were all sellouts. The shows grossed nearly $44 million and drew 313,365 Little Monsters, a number that has grown to more than half a million since the midyear chart period closed. Out of the gate, Gaga visited Southeast Asia, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, and stays in Europe for most of the summer. As first tipped on Billboard.biz (Feb. 8), the Born This Way Ball hits North America in first-quarter 2013, by then firmly established as a financial monster in its own right.
Though the Van Halen tour ended on a bit of a sour note with the postponement of more than 30 shows (due to fatigue, sources close to the band tell Billboard), the band did the business while it was out there. The tour, in support of "A Different Kind of Truth," VH's first with original singer David Lee Roth since 1984, did sterling business, taking in $38.6 million and attendance of 371,276 from the 33 shows that did come off.
Nineties rock bands are showing some staying power in ticket selling ability in the form of Pearl Jam (311,845 in attendance, including nearly 100,000 from two shows in São Paulo last November) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (about 300,000 tickets sold). Both groups are augmenting their headlining dates with a healthy dose of international festival appearances that put them in front of hundreds of thousands more fans.
The top Boxscore of the year so far, which will probably stand through the end of 2012, is Coachella, which put up $47.3 million in its first incarnation as a two-weekend event. Producer Goldenvoice also placed its Stagecoach country festival in the top 25. But for the most part, the Top Boxscores chart is about international: 20 of the top 25 engagements for the year so far are from markets other than the United States.
As the time period for Billboard's midyear numbers ends as much of the summer touring activity begins, the final tally for 2012's top tour will surely look much different, as mega-tours from artists like Gaga, Kenny Chesney and Madonna, along with the bulk of the amphitheater season, come to bear. In particularly, country music's biggest artists were just getting into the meat of their touring schedules as the time period for the midyear came to a close, but among the Top 25 are Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum, a veteran country icon entered the elite tours list for the first time on this midyear chart. Dolly Parton's jump into the top 25 is driven by her multi-arena tour of Australia and New Zealand, where she hasn't performed in 19 years.
For now, the Top 10 Tours of the Midyear based on Boxscore reports are Waters ($131.4 million), Immortal ($68.4 million), Springsteen ($52.4 million), Jay-Z/Kanye West The Throne ($46 million), Lady Gaga ($44 million), Van Halen ($38.6 million), Trans-Siberian Orchestra ($33.4 million), Taylor Swift ($26.3 million), Pearl Jam ($25.4 million), and Andre' Rieu ($25.3 million).
For a complete analysis of the Midyear touring numbers and an epic interview with Roger Waters, check out next week's issue of Billboard, available Friday.