Elton John at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Dec. 6, 2018.
Elton John at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Dec. 6, 2018.

Elton John's 'Road' Leads Back to No. 1: September Boxscore Recap

As Elton John concludes the first of three scheduled years of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, he returns to the peak of Billboard’s September Top Tours ranking with the highest grossing tour of September.

John played 14 concerts throughout the month, earning $28.9 million from 216,004 tickets according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore. After crowning the inaugural monthly report in February, he becomes the second artist to repeat on top after P!nk scored big in March and July.   

Since debuting earlier this year, each month’s top-grossing tour out-grossed the previous one, capped by The Rolling Stones’ $94.5 million haul in August. That means that John’s September earnings marks a return to earth following the saturation of summer stadium tours from the Stones, the Spice Girls, and BTS.  

Still, twelve months deep into a busy arena tour, $28.9 million is the highest one-month total so far for the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, surpassing the $28.5 million John earned in October 2018. He has been a consistent presence on the Top Tours chart, netting his fifth month in the top 10 and sixth on the chart.   

After earning nearly $50 million in Europe over the summer, John flew back to North America for his chart-topping run. The 14-show sprint brought him up along the west coast through Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and San Francisco before five Canadian dates in Vancouver and Edmonton. Among these anchor markets, the biggest engagement of the month was his double-header at the Tacoma Dome ($5.8 million). The Sept. 17-18 shows hit No. 3 on the Top Boxscores chart and pushed the Tacoma, Wash. arena to No. 4 on the Top Venues (15,001+ capacity) ranking, it’s best showing yet. Nearly the entirety of John’s September shows populate the Top Boxscores listing, with six of seven engagements in the top 30.

None of these cities repeated from the tour’s first leg, though John’s two shows in San Francisco ($4.4 million) improved upon his Bay Area best, a Jan. 18 date in Oakland, Calif. that grossed ($2.1 million). Now 91 North American shows deep into the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, John’s exhaustive coverage of the continent is nothing short of remarkable, still finding new corners of the U.S. and Canada to mine.

Since the trek’s opening show on Sept. 8, 2018, it has grossed $229.6 million from over 1.7 million tickets worldwide, sending John’s total grosses further into the stratosphere. John’s tours and residencies have earned a reported $1.27 billion and sold 16.3 million tickets since the launch of Billboard Boxscore. Among solo artists, John only ranks behind Bruce Springsteen and Madonna.

Closely behind the rocket man, The Jonas Brothers rise from No. 4 in August to No. 2 with $26.9 million – a 3% decrease from August, despite a 7% increase in attendance. The sibling trio sold 256,167 tickets over 18 shows, out-selling John’s tour by over 40,000 tickets. Averaging $1.6 million per show, the Happiness Begins Tour is on track to sail past the band’s World Tour 2009 and become the biggest trek of its career.

The calming of stadium tours from Boxscore mainstays like the Stones, Metallica, P!nk, and Ed Sheeran allows some fresher faces in touring to rise the ranks of the Top Tours chart. New fall tours by Post Malone (No. 6) and Maluma (No. 10) crack the chart’s upper echelon. YouTube sensation Jojo Siwa continues her year-long ascent, at No. 13 for September, after ranking at Nos. 19 and 22 in August and July, respectively. And bit further down the list, Tyler, the Creator (No. 17) and Lizzo (No. 26) make their monthly Boxscore debuts.

The Top Boxscores and Top Venues charts run parallel this month with September’s top two engagements fueling the highest grossing arena and theater. The Park Theater in Las Vegas is September’s top-grossing venue (5,001-10,000 capacity), thanks in part to the month’s top boxscore, Bruno Mars’ seven-show string from Sept. 3-14 ($9.8 million). And directly beneath Mars, Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival ($6.4 million) helps make the American Airlines Center in Dallas the top earning venue of any size. 

The Dallas arena displaces New York’s Madison Square Garden, the month’s No. 2 venue with a capacity of 15,001 or more, after three consecutive months at No. 1 on the chart. The September ranking marks the Manhattan venue’s seventh consecutive month in the top 3. Madison Square Garden’s sole appearance on the Top Boxscores chart comes via piano man Billy Joel, at No. 25 with the 68th performance of his ongoing residency at the arena.

Another long-reigning artist makes a splash on the Top Boxscores chart with a different kind of New York residency. Madonna is No. 4 with a nine-show run at the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She is followed by other residencies in Las Vegas, including Aerosmith (No. 13), Rod Stewart (No. 23), Def Leppard (No. 24), and Luis Miguel (No. 30).

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Billboard.


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