Leadoff: Elton John On Track to Set All-Time Touring Record with Farewell Run

Elton John performs during his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” at Allegiant Stadium on Nov. 1, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Even though he has been rightfully honored, awarded and commemorated in just about every way imaginable for a musical entertainer, Elton John is on track to claim yet another triumph as his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour is poised to become the highest-grossing tour of all time. All indications point to the long-running world tour — that began more than four years ago — reaching that milestone in 2023.

Box-office grosses from his performances around the globe since the launch of the tour on Sept. 8, 2018, are now within reach of the all-time record established by Ed Sheeran with the completion of his “Divide” tour. Spanning almost two and a half years, from March 2017 through August 2019, Sheeran’s tour grossed over $776 million from 257 shows and moved more than 8.8 million tickets.

The “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” trek began in North America and included 42 performances in 2018, then 111 more in 2019 and another 25 in 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic halted the tour. He returned one year ago and completed 93 concerts in 2022, capping a blockbuster year on the road with three sold-out shows at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in November. With $273.8 million in grosses reported to Pollstar last year, his tour ranked second only to Bad Bunny among the Top 200 Worldwide Tours of 2022.

Now, early in 2023, the legendary entertainer is already back on the concert stage. He kicked off the year with his farewell tour’s second trek through Oceania that began with a two-night event on Jan. 8 and 10 at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Australia. It is one of six stadiums booked Down Under this month. He will also return to Melbourne for two shows at AAMI Park where he grossed $4.5 million when he performed there in 2020 during the first Aussie leg of the tour.

Sydney’s Allianz Stadium will also host two concerts, Jan. 17-18, marking his first appearance there on the farewell jaunt, yet he grossed $4.2 million at another stadium in the area, Bankwest Stadium (now called CommBank Stadium) to wrap the first Oceania leg in 2020. Also, in Sydney during the earlier trek, he performed three nights at Qudos Bank Arena and two at the International Convention Centre.

In Brisbane, the tour will play one night at Suncorp Stadium followed by two dates in New Zealand — the first at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch before a final two-night stand at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, Jan. 27-28. His previous show at the same stadium on Feb. 16, 2020, brought in $4.8 million.

The first Oceania leg of the tour that ran from Nov. 30, 2019, through March 7, 2020, featured 38 shows in Australia and New Zealand before the pandemic derailed the live industry. But among the shows that were completed, he racked up a gross average of $3.13 million at the stadiums on the itinerary and about $2 million at the arenas. His shows at wineries and other outdoor concert sites also averaged about $2 million each.

Using those averages to estimate possible sales on this month’s all-stadium run, he could potentially add another $30 million to the tour coffers by the time he plays his last show on the continent at Auckland in late January.

If the concerts in Australia and New Zealand do not put him over the top in the quest to break Sheeran’s gross record, his final arena run in Europe, from March 23 through July 8, will do it. So far on the tour, when he has played indoor arenas in Europe, his shows have averaged a $1.9 million gross — and his final run on the continent has 48 arena dates booked. With the gross potential from those performances, Sir Elton could add another $90 million to his tour gross, even with quite a variety of building sizes and seating capacities in play. Then, to wrap the farewell tour, he has two stadium shows planned for Tele2 Arena in Stockholm on July 7-8.

Among the U.K. arenas hosting the tour during the final 15-week sweep through Europe is The O2 in London where John will perform nine nights in April and another performance on May 30. The Pollstar archives include three previous concerts at the venue where he averaged 15,377 sold seats per show and a $1.8 million gross.

Also in the U.K., he has three shows planned for AO Arena in Manchester and Utilita Arena in Birmingham, along with two-night gigs in Liverpool, Aberdeen and Glasgow and single shows in Belfast, Leeds and Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.

Elsewhere in Europe, his bookings include three nights at arenas in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne, Germany and another three at Accor Arena in Paris where he grossed $2.2 million on June 20, 2019.