While 2020 has kicked off in grand fashion with new albums from megastars like Justin Bieber, BTS, Selena Gomez and Lil Wayne, the January Boxscore report is notably quiet: Following a final 2019 surge from late-in-the-year tours by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and U2, the pickings in live entertainment get slim after New Year’s Day, with a small handful of A-list tours carrying over from the prior year and a few new heavy-hitters kicking off at the tail end of the month.
In the post-holiday lull, Billboard Boxscore regulars Elton John, Céline Dion and George Strait crown the newest Top Tours ranking. But just behind them is a swarm of hard rock acts. After sneaking onto the chart in November, Tool claims the No. 4 spot in January with $9.5 million as it continues its latest North American tour. According to figures reported to Boxscore, the band moved 84,202 tickets from seven shows during the month.
Tool’s January run included shows in California, Texas and Nevada, peaking with 15,024 tickets sold for a $1.7 million gross at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Six of its seven shows crossed the million-dollar threshold, with a Jan. 15 performance at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., barely missing the mark at $995,766.
Tool has been on the road since May 2019 in support of its fifth studio album, the Billboard 200 chart-topping Fear Inoculum. Though it is the band’s first release since 2006’s 10,000 Days, Tool has maintained a regular presence on the touring circuit, playing quick stints of shows in almost every calendar year in between. Its business has steadily increased since its last proper album cycle, scaling from an average of $478,000 per night in 2006-07 to $1.341 million in 2019-20.
Rock’s global footprint can be felt lower in the top 10, as Slipknot holds January’s No. 6 position with $3.5 million grossed from four shows on its European tour. Despite hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, the heavy metal band has a long history of outperforming its domestic tours with international shows in South America, Europe and Australia. On the group’s previous North American run, the tour’s final four shows combined to earned $885,000, while its four European dates in 2020 averaged $871,000 each.
Rounding out the top 10 is Korn and Breaking Benjamin’s co-headlining bill. Both bands have shared a marquee before, and this joint tour is quite literally greater than the sum of its parts: By combining six reports from each band’s most recent solo headlining tour, the total gross amounts to $2.1 million. But the first six shows of their ongoing run clears $2.4 million and 40,000 tickets sold, proving the power of joining forces to maximize fan engagement.
While the quiet of January allowed for marquee momentum for a slew of harder-edged bands, the wide spectrum of rock is on full display. Cold Chisel, an Australian pub rock band nabs the No. 7 spot ($3 million; 34,641 tickets) with a pair of strong homeland shows, while Kelly Family, a traditional Irish folk-rock act is No. 12 ($2.2 million; 39,627 tickets).
On the more classic and pop end of the rock spectrum, Elton John claims not only his fourth month at No. 1 on the Top Tours ranking — he topped the chart in February, September and November 2019 — but also his first time crowning the Top Boxscores chart with his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. His three-show run at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena earned $6.1 million and sold 44,436 tickets. The blockbuster trek, which he intends to be his final world tour, began in fall 2018 and has shows booked through 2021, including repeat legs in North America, Europe and Oceania.
Because of the relative lull of January’s box office, a few of the month’s top tours spread out and dominate the Top Boxscores chart. John claims five spots on the 30-position ranking, while Celine Dion (No. 2, Top Tours) makes seven appearances and Tool has six. Add three for George Strait and two for the Calibash events, and five touring entities make up nearly 80% of the Top Boxscores chart. As more acts mount 2020 tours, expect the chart to get increasingly competitive in the coming months with more artists fighting for these 30 spots.
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas crowns our Top Venues (15,001+ capacity) list for the first time, with a towering $17.8 million gross and 82,668 tickets sold. While no other venue doubles up on the Top Boxscores chart, the Vegas arena grabs four spots, hitting Nos. 17 (George Strait; $1.9 million), 19 (Calibash; $1.8 million), 20 (Tool; $1.7 million), and 29 (Dia Nacional de la Banda; $1.3 million).