U2 wrapped the North American leg of the Innocence + Experience tour in stunning fashion with an eight-night, sold-out stand at Madison Square Garden in New York City that grossed nearly $20 million from the attendance of almost 150,000 fans.
Marked by special guests on stage and VIP attendees in the audience, the critically acclaimed shows put up a final tally of 149,942 tickets sold, with a gross of $19,474,285, according to Billboard Boxscore. That takes the total of the tour's opening leg to 650,582 attendance and $76,166,563 gross from 36 shows, all sellouts. Innocence + Experience is produced by Live Nation Global Touring president Arthur Fogel and his Toronto-based team, promoter/producer of all of U2’s tours since PopMart in 1997-98.
The follow-up to the historic 360 tour of stadiums in 2009-11 (which grossed $736.4 million and moved 7.2 million tickets, both all-time records), Innocence + Experience marks the first time U2 has played the relatively intimate confines of arenas since the Vertigo tour in 2005-2007. The band makes full use of the venues, with groundbreaking staging and video that allows for 360-degree seating, including general admission on the floor. Calling the North American leg “a huge success on every level,” Fogel tells Billboard that the tour, “blew everyone away, fans and critics.” He continues, “In our world, people use the term ‘great’ all too easily, [but] in this case it is an understatement. They are the best live band in our business, and if there was any doubt by a few, they should have learned that by now.”
The tour began May 14 in Vancouver, B.C. A Nov. 16 bicycle accident in New York’s Central Park that seriously injured Bono, the band’s frontman, did not delay the start of the tour, which had long been slated to begin in the spring of 2015. In fact, the jogger who first happened upon Bono after the crash, and the EMTs who tended to him, were both in attendance and recognized at the Aug. 30 show, and the latter even fulfilled a promise to knock back a shot of Jameson with the singer, who obliged from the stage.
At the final New York show, Bruce Springsteen took the stage to accompany the band on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Springsteen was attending the show with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Other guest performers throughout the Garden stand include Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Lady Gaga, and Paul Simon. Among the celebrities who attended were Paul McCartney, Nile Rodgers, Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Chris Rock, producer Steve Lillywhite, model Christy Turlington, MTV personality (and former Billboard Touring Awards host) Matt Pinfield, Howard Stern sidekick (and former Billboard Touring Awards host) Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate, tennis great John McEnroe, and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.
The tour resumes Sept. 4-5 in Turin, Italy, with a 34-date leg that will culminate with four shows in Paris, Nov. 10-15. Included in this European tour, also in arenas, are four shows each in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Berlin, and Barcelona, and six shows at London’s O2 Arena. U2 tours typically span three years, and while it is expected that U2 will return to North America in 2016, Fogel declined to release details, saying only, “I can’t wait for the run in Europe this fall, and beyond.”