There’s a lot that goes into a tour for the biggest musical acts, especially when they’re playing in large venues with a lot of set-up involved. When this happens, usually ticket prices are astronomical, but those that attend say that the cost was worth it to see the spectacle of their favorite performer playing live.
There have been many memorable tours throughout music history, with some lasting for several years before the band gets an extended break. Out of every tour, there are a few that stand out as being the most lucrative and memorable for fans and ticket sellers alike. Here are the five biggest music tours of all time and some info about each one.
5. A Head Full Of Dreams Tour (Coldplay)
From March 2016 until November 2017, Coldplay went on the road through five continents and played 122 shows in total, beginning and ending at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in Argentina. The setlist included some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Yellow” and “Paradise” and typically ending with “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Up&Up”.
Because of the sheer amount of shows, it was one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, pulling in $523 million, which was good for an average of $4.59 million per show. The tour earned the Billboard Award for Top Draw and the American Music Award for Tour of the Year.
4. Sticky & Sweet Tour (Madonna)
While some think that Madonna’s top tour may have been in the 1980s or 1990s, her biggest tour to date came from August 2008 to September 2009 when she performed 85 shows. There were different themes with each show, and the tour was the crown jewel of her new contract with promoter Live Nation that began in Cardiff, Wales, and wrapped up in Tel Aviv, Israel with each performance ending with “Give It 2 Me”.
Madge was able to make $4.84 million per show, which brought in a total attendance of 3.5 million and a total gross of $411 million. The tour wasn’t without its issues, though, as the concert set for Marseille, France suffered a stage collapse that led to the show’s cancellation.
3. Reputation Stadium Tour (Taylor Swift)
Upon the release of her sixth studio album, “Reputation”, Taylor Swift kicked off a tour of the same name in May 2018 through November of the same year. There was only one caveat, though, and it was that Swift was only playing in large stadiums, many of which happened to be outdoor venues like NFL stadiums. Over 53 shows, Swift was able to sell out these venues left and right.
The Reputation Stadium Tour started out in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium and concluded at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The setlist typically started with “…Ready for It?” and finished with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. All in all, the tour was able to pull in 2.888 million people and grossed $6.52 million per show for a total of $345.7 million.
2. 360 Tour (U2)
With the release of their album “No Line on the Horizon”, U2 came out with one of the most innovative tours of all time with the 360 Tour. The tour featured a contraption known as “The Claw” which had a massive video screen and sound system that was over 160 feet tall. U2 took “The Claw” with them over seven legs and a total of 110 shoes between June 2009 and July 2011.
The setlist tended to change with each leg of the tour, with “Moment of Surrender” serving as the final encore for the first two years while “Out of Control” ended their shows in 2011. The 360 Tour is the highest-grossing of all time (when adjusted for inflation) with $736 million and 7.2 million attendees, averaging $6.69 million per show.
1. No Filter Tour (Rolling Stones)
The Rolling Stones have had plenty of amazing and memorable tours throughout the years, with the No Filter Tour being the biggest of the bunch. Though some of it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour was still able to draw big-time from September 2017 to November 2021.
With a changing setlist that typically ended with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, the Stones made 58 stops on their tour that earned $546.5 million in ticket sales. Thanks to selling out massive venues, the tour set a record for $9.42 million per show on average.