Irish group took $123 million in 2009

U2 predictably led the field as the top-grossing North American touring act of 2009, according to figures released by concert tracker Pollstar.

The Irish group’s lavishly mounted 360 Tour of U.S. arenas grossed $123 million, selling more than 1.3 million tickets.

The band’s closest competition was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The Boss’ “Working on a Dream” tour grossed $94.5 million.

The powerhouse duo of Elton John and Billy Joel ($88 million), renascent pop tart Britney Spears ($82.5 million) and headbangers AC/DC ($77.9 million) rounded out the top five.

Despite the recession, the touring business boomed last year, Pollstar said. In 2008, Kenny Chesney was the lone artist to sell more than 1 million tickets; last year, U2, Springsteen, Chesney, the Jonas Brothers, the Dave Matthews Band and the primordial “Walking With Dinosaurs” trek all shifted in excess of 1 million ducats.

Other big grossers for the year were Chesney ($71.1 million), the Jonases ($69.8 million), Matthews ($56.9 million), Fleetwood Mac ($54.5 million) and Metallica ($53.4 million).

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