As the live entertainment business continues to gain its footing, arenas across the world experienced a successful first half of the year with top-grossing tours by Roger Waters, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Prince, Van Halen and Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil.
Billboard's midyear touring recaps are compiled from Boxscore data for shows that took place between Nov. 1, 2011, and May 31, 2012.
Here's how the top five arenas performed:
The O2 Arena in London nabs the No. 1 venue spot on the midyear chart, reporting $71.7 million in grosses and drawing 1,136,473 concert-goers to 101 shows. (All Boxscore figures are in U.S. dollars.)
O2 event director Sally Davies says that noteworthy performances during the period included Jay-Z and West's "Watch the Throne" tour, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys' NKOTBSB trek, Drake and five shows by British boy band JLS. Other standouts included X Factor Live (three shows), Westlife (four) and Barry Manilow.
"But it was left to Blink-182, who played two sellout shows [in June], to have the honor of being the last act to perform in the O2 Arena before it becomes an official venue of the London 2012 Olympic Games," Davies says.
The runner-up to the O2 on the midyear chart is the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, which grossed $47 million and drew more than 354,000 people to 37 events.
"Pre-Christmas tours by Janet Jackson, Kings of Leon, Dolly Parton, Sade, Elton John and much-loved Australian rockers Cold Chisel all stopped by the arena, now in its 25th year," says Brian Morris, CEO of Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, which manages the building.
Another "epic" run of shows at the 16,820-capacity arena were the four sellouts by Waters' The Wall Live tour earlier this year. But the greatest buzz of all during the period came from Prince in mid-May. With "a dynamic stage setup, the 'purple people pleaser' reminded almost 50,000 hardcore fans over three packed concerts of his phenomenal talent," Morris says.
Back in the United Kingdom, the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena reported grosses of $43.9 million from 77 shows that drew more than 729,000 people, earning the SMG-managed building the third spot on the midyear tally.
MSG Entertainment executive VP of bookings Bob Shea says multiple-night engagements and numerous sellouts played a significant role in earning New York's Madison Square Garden the No. 4 spot on the midyear's top 10 list. The 20,697-capacity facility rang up $40.7 million in grosses and nearly 486,000 in attendance from 34 shows.
Multiple-night sellouts during the period included Phish (four) and Romeo (three), as well as two-night stays by Jay-Z/West, Springsteen, Van Halen, Taylor Swift and the Black Keys. Other sellouts included concerts by Foo Fighters, Bob Seger, Enrique Iglesias, Furthur, Katy Perry and Ricardo Arjona.
"Two notable bookings were Swedish House Mafia, who became the first electronic dance music artist to ever headline Madison Square Garden, and L'Arc-en-Ciel, the first Japanese rock band to perform at the Garden," Shea says.
Australia's Allphones Arena (formerly Acer Arena) in Sydney earned the ranking of No. 5 arena at midyear. The 21,000-capacity venue reported $29.2 million in grosses for 34 events that attracted 222,293 people.
Tim Worton, group director of arenas at AEG Ogden, which oversees operation of Allphones, says the period was solid "but not as spectacular as recent years. The Australian dollar continues to be strong against the U.S. currency, and this has helped keep a steady flow of strong international acts coming to our shores."
Noteworthy bookings during the period included Prince (three), Parton (two), Waters (two), Cold Chisel (two), Swift (two), Kings of Leon (two), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and NKOTBSB, Worton says.••••