Boxoffice Insider: First On The Scene KISS, Shelton, Bublé Launch Early ‘19 Tours

Jeff Kravitz /
rock and rolls all night at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., Feb. 16, as one of the first major tours picking up steam in 2019.
Winter tour launches during the first weeks of a new year aren’t the typical plan of action in the concert business. Tour headliners often hit the road closer to the warmer months. Certainly, spring and summer go hand in hand with optimum live experiences: Sunshine and summer clothing – and beer – add to the draw of outdoor concerts.

But for some, the new year’s early days are the time to bound out of the gate, crank up the buses and trucks and hit the road with a tour. 

Here is a look at a few artists who are off and running with brand new tours and have already caused a stir on Pollstar charts at this point in 2019. One of the most anticipated tours to begin in January was KISS’ End of the Road world tour, which marks the final live run for the band after a career spanning more than four decades. 
KISS announced the farewell jaunt in October with plans to kick off its first leg in North America on Jan. 31. Dates in Europe and Oceania have been added to the mix for the trek, which is currently booked through December.
Box office data for 12 concerts has been reported so far for the Live Nation-promoted run. The tour’s sellout debut at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena in late January sold 13,373 tickets and grossed $1.4 million. Combined box office revenue from the tour’s early shows totals $14.6 million with 139,243 sold tickets, amounting to per-show averages of $1.2 million grossed and 11,603 tickets sold. On Feb. 2, the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., one of North America’s largest arenas, hosted the biggest crowd of the 12 venues that have reported KISS box office data, with 14,578 tickets sold. Yet the top-grosser was the Feb. 16 sellout show at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., which grossed $1.8 million – surpassing the Tacoma show by $171,161, despite selling nearly 1,000 fewer tickets.
Country music has also made an impression so far in 2019, with new tour launches by Blake Shelton and Eric Church, as well as an early February appearance by the King of Country, George Strait, who often hit the road early in the year before ending his long touring career in 2014. Since his retirement from full-scale touring, Strait has performed almost exclusively in a residency at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, making his debut there in April 2016.

For a third consecutive year, Strait performed at the arena in February, this time taking the stage Feb. 1-2 and earning $4.3 million from 33,937 sold tickets. With a total of 22 shows at T-Mobile Arena, Strait’s residency at the venue has grossed $42.4 million. (His rare concerts outside of Sin City have been lucrative: Between May 27 and June 3, 2018, Strait performed four gigs across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana and grossed $17 million.)

Shelton kicked off his five-week Friends and Heroes Tour in Oklahoma City on Feb. 14. The 18-show engagement is Shelton’s ninth headlining trek and features support from veteran artists the Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson and Trace Adkins, as well as from “American Idol” season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina.

Box office counts from the first nine shows of the run have been reported and show an average gross per concert of more than $1 million. From his Valentine’s Day opener at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena – with a gross of $1.2 million, the tour’s highest-grossing gig to date – through his March 2 sellout at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., Shelton grossed a total of $9.2 million with 103,434 sold tickets. Like Strait’s Las Vegas engagement, Shelton’s tour, which concludes March 23, is promoted by AEG Presents partner Messina Touring Group.
Church’s Double Down jaunt, also an MTG-produced tour, has made a big splash in 2019 as well. The tour spans the first half of the year and is booked for two-night engagements at venues in 18 North American cities. With Friday and Saturday concerts in a different city each week, the trek, set primarily in arenas, will also include one stadium date in Nashville prior to its finale this summer.
With 14 shows in seven North American markets already in Pollstar’s database, Church’s tour has averaged just over $1.5 million per concert – a $3 million gross per each city – and his highest-grossing pair of shows came at Minneapolis’ Target Center, where he raked in $3.6 million. From the Jan. 18 launch in Omaha, Neb., through the most recently reported dates at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on March 1-2, the tour’s gross sits at $21 million from 208,422 sold seats.
Among the highest-grossing tours in the early 2019 was An Evening with Michael Bublé, which began on Feb. 13 in Tampa. Jokingly dubbed Don’t Believe the Rumors in response to false internet chatter about Bublé’s supposed retirement, the tour’s planned North American and European dates stretch through November. It supports the Canadian singer’s 10th studio album Love, which was released in November. Box office data for 12 reported concerts between Feb. 13 and March 1 shows an average gross of $1.5 million. With every concert sold out, the combined gross totals $18.4 million from 142,380 sold seats.
Some other acts that scored substantial box office results in January and February were merely resuming already-running treks. Such was the case for marquee artists including Justin Timberlake ($42.1 million grossed in 2019), Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band ($22 million), Metallica ($16.3 million), Elton John ($16.1 million) and Travis Scott ($11.8 million). All produced noteworthy box office results during the early weeks of 2019 with tours that launched in 2018 or earlier.