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U2 tops 2011 concert biz

Top 25 domestic tours grossed $1.19 bil, per Pollstar

In concert tracker Pollstar’s wrap of the 2011 concert biz, U2’s 360 tour was the dominant road show internationally, grossing $156 million in North America and $231 million worldwide.

The top 25 North American tours grossed $1.19 billion collectively, off about 4% from $1.24 billion in 2010. The top 25 worldwide tours brought in a $2.1 billion gross, virtually flat compared to last year.

U2 sold 1.7 million tickets, at an average cost of $91.67, in North America during the year, for an average of 81,000 tickets per show. The elaborate stadium tour mounted 25 shows in 21 markets.

Domestically, country was hot this year, with Taylor Swift (grossing $97.7 million) and Kenny Chesney ($84.6 million) occupying the No. 2 and No. 3 slots respectively among North American attractions.

Other top North American live acts included Lady Gaga ($63.7 million), Bon Jovi ($57.1 million), Elton John ($51.8 million), Sade ($48.6 million), Kanye West and Jay-Z ($48.3 million), Lil Wayne ($44.4 million) and Celine Dion ($41.2 million).

Dion is something of an anomaly in the top 10, since the Canadian thrush did not actually tour: Her gross was produced by 57 shows at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace. The singer boasted the highest average ticket price in the top 10 at $166.71 per ducat.

Worldwide, the British boy band Take That, whose reunited lineup includes U.K. solo superstar Robbie Williams, ranked No. 2 behind U2, taking in $224 million off 34 appearances.

Other top international acts included Bon Jovi, Swift, Roger Waters, John, Rihanna, Chesney, Sade and Paul McCartney.

Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said the touring outlook for 2012 looks positive, with reunion jaunts by the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath and Van Halen, dates by top attractions like Madonna and Bruce Springsteen and a possible Rolling Stones 50th anniversary trek in the offing.

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