As concert venues opened up in the second half of the year, fans flocked to see their favorite artists live, fueling tour grosses in the tens of millions. But the vast, vast majority of those dollars were for American shows. While the U.S. rebuilt its concert industry with considerable speed, tight international borders prevented worldwide tours and kept foreign grosses lower to the floor.
Leave it to London’s O2 Arena, Billboard Boxscore’s top-grossing venue of the decade, to lead the way. The O2 Arena is the only non-U.S. venue on the year-end Top Venues (15,001+ capacity) chart, spring boarded by its Welcome Back Series, a run of seven shows in partnership with the arena’s naming partner, O2. Altogether, the series earned $5.6 million and sold 87,400 tickets.
The Welcome Back Series began with an Aug. 27 performance by Burna Boy, grossing $1.3 million and selling 15,200 tickets. The series picked back up in November with a show by Ministry of Sound (Nov. 13; $324,000; 3,900 tickets), Mo Gilligan (Dec. 8; $447,00; 10,900) and Tom Jones (Dec. 9; $643,000; 6,700).
The undisputed highlight throughout the series was a sold-out three-night run by Wizkid on Nov. 28, 29 and Dec. 1, bringing in $2.9 million from 50,800 tickets sold.
Wizkid and Burna Boy’s seven-figure success makes sense to spotlight the London arena’s return to full-capacity events. With complications still surrounding international touring, these Nigerian stars boast some of the biggest non-U.S. Boxscore numbers of 2021. Burna Boy even joined Wizkid on stage at the last of his three shows to debut a new collaboration, “B.d’Or.”
In all, the O2 Arena has hosted 29 concerts in 2021, grossing a combined $23.5 million and selling 341,000 tickets.