Live Laurels: Stones Tour Continues Four Decades Of Boxoffice Glory
Junko Kimura / Getty Images – The Rolling Stones:
While Q3 numbers are here, the Stones’ upcoming stadium dates loom large for year-end. The band is pictured here at Saitama Super Arena in Japan during 2006’s “Bigger Bang” blockbuster leg.
The Rolling Stones are set to kick off the next leg of their “No Filter” stadium tour in St. Louis on Sept. 26 after a postponement of more than a year. And although the death of drummer Charlie Watts on Aug. 24 stunned the music world, the tour is still going forward as planned – even with a second show at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles added earlier this month.
No Stones tour slips through the cracks or sneaks up on the concert industry. When the iconic band plans a tour or is on the road, the live entertainment world feels the impact of it. Our boxoffice archives certainly reflect as much since we have tracked their enduring and impressive history as a concert headliner for four decades, beginning when Pollstar was founded in 1981. The first tour stored in our database was their U.S. tour that fall.
Overall, the group has grossed over $2.2 billion from 21.8 million sold tickets at 563 concerts, according to reported sales figures since that 1981 tour. They have played many arenas and a few smaller venues, but most of their concerts have been held in stadiums, as evidenced by boxoffice averages per show. During the past 40 years, they have an average gross of $3.9 million from 38,828 sold seats – most definitely stadium numbers.
Averages are higher than that, though, for the current “No Filter” tour that scores a $9.4 million average from just over 52,000 tickets per show. Those are the highest ever recorded for the band that has seen averages increase from one tour to the next during the past 20 years, except for one. The only exception is “América Latina Olé” in 2016 that averaged about 18% less than the “Zip Code” tour the previous year, but it also featured an average ticket price $59 less than the 2015 trek. Otherwise, each tour since 2000 has beat the average gross from the previous one.
The “Licks” tour, the first in this century, ran from September 2002 until November 2003, averaging $2.67 million in grosses per show from an average ticket price of $91.22, the only one under $100 since 2000. It was also one of the rare times the band played stadiums, arenas and theaters on the same tour, sometimes all three in one market.
The largest attendance for any single Stones concert occurred during “Licks.” On July 30, 2003, they headlined a benefit performance at Toronto’s Downsview Park for a crowd of 489,176. Dubbed “Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto,” the star-studded show was an effort to help the city recover from the effects of the SARS pandemic that had plagued many parts of the world that year.
“A Bigger Bang” followed and ran for two years beginning on Aug. 21, 2005. With a gross stretching well over half-a-billion dollars, it was the highest-grossing tour of all time when it wrapped in 2007. It held that title until U2’s “360” tour topped it in 2011, although both tours were ultimately surpassed eight years later by Ed Sheeran’s “Divide,” now the all-time top grosser. With shows in both stadiums and arenas, the Stones averaged $4.08 million per show with 119 reported. The largest reported attendance was 141,092 at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Feb. 21-23, 2006. Five years later in 2012, the group celebrated their 50th anniversary with the “50 & Counting” trek that averaged $5.96 million in revenue per show with an average ticket price of $326.29, their highest on record.
Aside from an outdoor show at London’s Hyde Park to close the run, the remainder of the concerts were set in arenas. Then, “14 On Fire” played arenas and stadiums in Asia, Europe and Oceania in 2014 and “Zip Code” toured stadiums in North America the following year with grosses from both totaling $275 million from 39 shows.
“No Filter” began with treks through Europe in 2017 and 2018, followed by North America in 2019.
Boxoffice results show the tour’s overall gross is currently $414.4 million from 44 concerts on both continents. The number of sold tickets totals just over 2.29 million.