Box Office Insider: Over 8 Million Tickets From Top 10 European Tours

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gearing up for their first North American tour since 2015, moved more than 750,000 tickets in Europe from just 13 markets in 2018.

A snapshot of concert box office excellence in Europe during the past year shows some familiar monikers on the ranking of Top 10 Tours with the overall number of sold tickets on the continent reaching 8,308,772. For the touring chart in this issue with an emphasis on Europe, rankings are based on ticket sales for each artist, unlike Pollstar’s year-end issues which have traditionally ranked top tours by overall gross dollars. Whether counting by the number of tickets moved or the money they produce, one name stands out above all the rest at the top of the list – Ed Sheeran.

The English pop star soared to the top on any year-end reckoning of box office success in 2018, so it stands to reason that, if looking only at sales figures from concert engagements in Europe, he would also claim the top spot on his home continent. Sheeran leads the list of Top European Tours with 2,669,136 total tickets sold at concerts in 22 venues in 10 countries. That’s almost 1.8 million more than the No. 2 tour, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s On the Run II that logged 871,012 sold seats at 15 stadiums in nine countries. (For these rankings, Pollstar is using a 12-month time period of Feb. 1, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019.)
The total gross earnings in Europe from Sheeran’s Divide tour totaled $238.2 million which is 55 percent of his total box office take worldwide during the same year-long time frame. His overall gross was a whopping $432.3 million. The Carters’ overall gross hit $254 million worldwide last year with their European dates accounting for 34 percent of it. The couple raked in $87.6 million from their stadium trek in European markets. 
Following at No. 3 is German schlager singer Helene Fischer. Although less known in North America, she is a massive star in Europe and drew 804,275 fans to her shows from the beginning of February 2018 through the end of the year. During those 11 months she registered a total gross of $67.3 million from 39 headlining performances in 20 cities. Last fall she completed her Helene Fischer Live 2017/2018 tour that kicked off on Sept. 12, 2017 and ran for just over one year before wrapping in Arnhem, Netherlands on Sept. 15, 2018. The tour was set entirely in Europe and included shows at 15 arenas during the 12-month span. All but one of them booked multiple performances, and 13 arenas hosted the tour for at least five nights – 11 in her home country.
Fischer also included a stadium trek last summer during June and July that was booked in 12 cities – in eight of which she also played a five-show arena stint. Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena was the top grosser among the stadiums with $6.2 million in sales from 78,515 sold seats over two nights (June 23-24). It was one of only two stadiums to bring in the tour for two performances. Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion also hosted the tour for two nights, grossing $5.4 million from 67,134 total tickets at concerts on July 14-15. Among the arena engagements reported to Pollstar, Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena scored the highest gross, taking in $4.9 million from 57,428 sold tickets during a five-show stretch in September 2018.
Rock legend Roger Waters joins the lineup of Top European Tours at No. 4 (see page 21) based on sold tickets on the continent. His total ticket count was 783,341 from 39 stops on his Us + Them tour that ran over a year and a half from May 2017 through early December 2018. During the time period for these rankings, he amassed gross revenue totaling $78.7 million from 58 shows at venues in 23 countries. Germany hosted the most shows with arena dates played in Berlin, Köln, Munich, Hamburg and Mannheim, but Italy and the U.K. followed with four engagements each. A four-night run in Amsterdam produced his highest gross with $5.1 million scored from 58,282 tickets at the city’s Ziggo Dome last June. 
The Rolling Stones (No. 5) moved a total of 750,914 tickets in Europe during the 12-month span beginning Feb. 1, 2018, based on reports from 13 markets. With a total gross of $116.5 million, the iconic band joins Sheeran as the only act to top the $100 million mark in revenue in Europe alone last year. The Stones’ concerts in 2018 were an extension of the opening European leg of the No Filter tour that kicked off in Hamburg on Sept. 9, 2017. So far, sold ticket revenue from the tour tops $236.5 million at the box office from sellouts at 28 shows in Europe since launch. A final jaunt through North America will complete the tour later this year. It begins April 20 at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and will finish on June 29 with an outdoor event on Canada Day Weekend in Barrie, Ontario.
Guns N’ Roses heads up the remainder of the Top 10 at No. 6 with 606,393 sold seats during the group’s Not In This Lifetime tour that wrapped in December after more than two-and-a-half years. Overall box office totals from the whole tour reached a final massive gross of $558 million from more than 5 million tickets at 144 reported shows on six continents.
U2 is at No. 7 with a sold ticket total of 488,975 from 13 arenas in nine countries during the band’s Experience + Innocence trek. With multiple concerts planned in all venues, grosses hit $64.6 million for the Irish band from 32 performances. Iron Maiden follows in the eighth position on the chart based on 461,366 sold seats at 26 shows in 22 cities on the veteran rock band’s Legacy of the Beast tour that launched last year with a European leg. This year the tour is set to play the Western Hemisphere beginning in July in Florida and wrapping in Santiago in October.
Dutch violinist André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra take No. 9 with 404,487 tickets from 39 markets, racking up a combined gross of $37.4 million in Europe. Pop star Justin Timberlake rounds out the Top 10 with a ticket total of 401,585 from his Man of the Woods tour. Sales at European venues in 19 cities account for $40.9 million of his overall gross.