U2 likely leader at year end.

The Eagles are the top-grossing touring act of the year so far, pulling in $76.7 million, based on numbers reported to Billboard Boxscore for the six months ending May 17. Billboard's mid-year touring report will be published in July.

In the early going, it's all about the Eagles. “We didn’t even work that much,” says Eagles manager Irving Azoff. But they worked enough, including the band’s first run through Australia and the Pacific Rim in about a decade.

“The run through Australia was stupid good,” Azoff tells Billboard.biz. The Eagles should stay near the top of the list come year’s end, powered by a hugely successful tour of California this fall, including seven shows in Northern California and at least 12 in Southern California, with second shows added in Phoenix and Las Vegas. “This tour is beyond anything I ever imagined, it’s so big,” says Azoff. “We’re adding ninth and 10th shows in L.A., I expect it to go to 12," says Azoff. He reports that the L.A. shows will be in October.

U2's Vertigo tour was just getting started during the half-year time period and the band is now well on it's way to being the top-grossing act of 2005. “This has been a fantastic start to what will be a record-setting touring year for U2,” Arthur Fogel, president of TNA International and worldwide promoter of Vertigo, tells Billboard.biz. “Every ticket for every show sold: that is the ultimate statement of demand.”

For mid-year time period, the juggernaut that is Vertigo had reported 24 sellouts that grossed $41.4 million and moved 429,036 tickets. The band is heading toward a $300 million year.

Third in the rankings are the final dates of Cher’s three year, 325-date, $200 million farewell tour, which were enough to rank her among the top acts of the half-year with close to $30 million in grosses. With $24.3 million in grosses so far this year, Rod Stewart is fourth.

Next on the list is another veteran, Sting, with $23.8 million in grosses from 54 shows. “Each segment of the one-and-a-half-year world tour was a total success, from theaters to arenas worldwide, to the pairing with Annie Lennox and back again to a stripped down rock show,” says Fogel, who also promoted Sting’s shows. “Great concept, well-executed plan and great shows.”

A wealth of acts are hovering in the $20 million range for the first half of ‘05, among them Bette Midler ($21 million), Trans-Siberian Orchestra ($20.9 million), Kylie Minogue ($19.9 million) Kenny Chesney ($19.6 million), Yanni ($19 million) and Motley Crue ($19 million).

Minogue was in the process of putting up some of the best numbers of her career before her 2005 touring efforts were derailed by a cancer scare. “The U.K. and European tour was her most successful to date, and we broke a number of records,” says Dave Chumbley, Minogue's agent with Primary Talent International. Twenty Australia arena dates for Minoque were sold out before she was forced to leave the road, and “we are hoping to reschedule them when her health gets better,” Chumbley says. “Her headline slot at the Glastonbury Festival this year [also was] cancelled, unfortunately.”

The good news for the touring business is that several newer acts are among the top performers. In just his second headlining tour, Josh Groban is showing some consistency, reporting nearly $17 million in grosses. Also on the rise are Rascal Flatts ($8 million), Maroon5 ($7.7 million) and Hilary Duff ($7.3 million).

And in the two most lucrative residencies ever, Celine Dion and Elton John have run up large grosses at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Dion has taken in $43 million for the period, and John about $16 million; John's total gross for the year to date is $28.7 million.