Boxoffice Insider: The Euro Elite, Ten Years Of Top Grosses

Spice Girls
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GIRL POWER: The Spice Girls’ reunion tour, the opening night of which at Croke Park in Dublin is pictured here, was 2019’s biggest tour on the other side of the pond.

Boxoffice Insider: The Euro Elite, Ten Years Of Top Grosses

During the past decade, some of the world’s highest-grossing concert performances each year have been staged in Europe, whether the result of international touring on the continent by global superstars or regional events with a long-running historical presence in the area. In the past 10 years, from 2012 through 2021, eight acts have claimed Europe’s No. 1 boxoffice gross of the year by a solo headliner (based on reported ticket sales figures) with two of them owning that distinction two years in a row.

The most recent, prior to the pandemic, was 2019’s three-show engagement at Wembley Stadium in London featuring a reunited Spice Girls who wrapped their “Spice World-2019” tour with this stadium event. Touring without Victoria Beckham, the group performed for 221,791 fans at Wembley over three nights, June 13-15. Boxoffice income was $27.3 million, the third-highest gross among the top earners in this recap.

Wembley Stadium was the site of three of the top-grossing events including the previous year when Ed Sheeran played four shows at the venue during his record-smashing “Divide” tour. His London performances on June 14-17, 2018 fell during the second summer leg of the tour that launched in March 2017 and stretched through August 2019. Sales from the four Wembley shows reached $28.7 million from tickets numbering 299,013.

Coldplay claimed the top gross in Europe in two consecutive years with both engagements occurring during the “A Head Full of Dreams” trek that still ranks as the fifth-highest grossing tour of all time. In 2016, they played four shows at Wembley Stadium, June 15-19, drawing 303,985 fans for a $29.7 million gross, the highest on record among these 10 events. Then, from July 15-18, 2017, the band played three nights at Stade de France in Paris, racking up a gross of $19.9 million, the highest in Europe that year by one headliner. The shows marked the final stop on the tour’s 2017 summer trek through European stadiums.

Stade de France was one of only two venues outside the UK to host the highest-grossing engagement in Europe. The other was Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff Arena, the city’s 68,000-seat sports stadium and site of the top-earning event in both 2014 and 2015. The headliner for both was The Toppers, a Dutch supergroup that formed in 2005 and has performed at the stadium every year since then, until last year. In 2014 they played four shows (May 24-31), moving 247,541 tickets for a $20.8 million gross. The next year’s event with five performances, May 23-31, drew a crowd of 310,604, the largest recorded at any of these 10 top events. Ticket revenue that year totaled $19.8 million.

The Rolling Stones scored the top European gross in 2013 with shows on July 6 and 13 at London’s Hyde Park, the final concerts on the band’s “50 & Counting” tour celebrating their 50th anniversary. With 130,000 tickets moved, grosses hit $22.7 million from the two shows. From 25 reported concerts, that tour spanned eight months and grossed more than $149 million from almost a half-million sold tickets.

In 2012 Manchester rock band The Stone Roses produced the highest boxoffice take: $18.7 million from a hometown crowd of 217,948 at Manchester’s Heaton Park. It was part of the band’s reunion tour, its first since disbanding in 1996. The Stone Roses toured the globe in 2012-13, including an appearance at Coachella, and remained together until 2017.

Although without the large $18 million-plus grosses of the previous eight years, 2020 and 2021 have also had a No. 1 European concert event. Last year, Madonna had the record with her 10 shows at the London Palladium in February, prior to the pandemic shutdown. She grossed $8.2 million at the venue from 21,658 tickets.

This year’s highest gross so far is a recent live performance at The O2 in London by the alt-rock virtual band Gorillaz. Promoted by Kilimanjaro Live, the concert drew a total of 17,428 fans to the arena on Aug. 11 for a gross totaling $1.3 million.