The list of top 10 tours of 2001 is dominated by acts that broke two decades ago, with the exception of two pop supergroups — ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys — that notched remarkably similar numbers via completely different strategies. Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE) produced seven of the top-10 tours, which were determined from numbers reported to Billboard and sister publication Amusement Business.
U2’s Elevation tour easily emerged as the top-grossing trek, at $143 million from 113 shows on both sides of the Atlantic. The tour felt no affect at the box office from Sept. 11, with dates continuing to sell out even in the weeks following the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The one-two punch of CCE-produced tours by ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys grossed $90.2 million and $89.8 million, respectively, and drew a combined audience of well over 3 million. ‘N Sync opted to play stadiums, earning its $90 million from less than half the number of dates played by Backstreet Boys. ‘N Sync averaged a staggering $1.9 million per show, better than any other act on the road in 2001.
At No. 4, Madonna’s sold-out Drowned World tour was an international juggernaut that grossed more than $74 million from only 47 dates, averaging $1.6 million per show. Fans snatched up tickets priced as high as $250 and clamored for more dates.
Dave Matthews Band continued its steady growth in 2001 by adding even more stadiums to its route. The band enjoyed another top-five finish this year, grossing $65 million from 60 dates and playing to 1.5 million people.
Billy Joel and Elton John reprised their co-headlining tour, with lucrative results. Their Face to Face tour grossed nearly $60 million from just 31 dates, averaging $1.9 million per show. Eric Clapton proved to be a strong draw in international arenas, grossing a healthy $43.5 million from 59 shows, racking up 38 complete sellouts, and averaging nearly $750,000 per night.
Janet Jackson put up strong, if occasionally inconsistent, numbers with her All for You arena tour, averaging more than $751,400 per night for a gross of $40.6 million. Still on the road when this year’s numbers were compiled, Aerosmith had grossed more than $40 million and was averaging $788,000 per show. Rounding out the top 10 is AC/DC, which averaged $543,300 in arenas and grossed a healthy $28.3 million from 52 dates reported.