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The Pollstar Top 50

04:31 PM Thursday 12/31/09 | |

Originally posted Dec. 30, 2009.

Pollstar has compiled its Top 50 Tours of North America for 2009 and, although there is no surprise as to who came in at No. 1, there were plenty of surprises just the same.

U2 surpassed all other tours by a wide margin, grossing $123 million in North America and selling more than 1.3 million tickets overall. It beat its closest competitor, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, by about $30 million.

  • Bono of U2

    Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
    October 25, 2009

    (Debbie VanStory / RockinExposures.com)


With U2 and Bruce charting Nos. 1 and 2, the top five were rounded out by Elton John / Billy Joel, Britney Spears and AC/DC. The Top 10 included the inexhaustible Kenny Chesney, headlining newcomers Jonas Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Fleetwood Mac and Metallica.

For all of the financial troubles of 2009, the concert business had an up year. The numbers for the Top 50 tours were better, across the board, than for 2008, be it total gross revenue or tickets sold. Last year, Chesney was the only artist to sell more than 1 million tickets. This year, U2, Springsteen, Chesney, Jonas Brothers, DMB and "Walking With Dinosaurs" all topped the million mark.

Newcomers to the list include Lil' Wayne at No. 26 and Kings of Leon at No. 43. Taylor Swift, who essentially began the year as a support act, wrapped 2009 at No. 36 as country's newest headline draw.

No Doubt, Blink-182 and Leonard Cohen, which each made splashy announcements that they were returning to the stage, made good on their returns, coming in at Nos. 24, 32 and 44 respectively.

So much for the Great Recession. When it comes to live music, 2009 was worth being around for.

Click here for the PDF version.

Pollstar Top 50 Tours of North America:

Rank              Total Gross*              Artist
1                   123.0                       U2
2                   94.5                         Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
3                   88.0                         Elton John / Billy Joel
4                   82.5                         Britney Spears
5                   77.9                         AC/DC
6                   71.1                         Kenny Chesney
7                   69.8                         Jonas Brothers
8                   56.9                         Dave Matthews Band
9                   54.5                         Fleetwood Mac
10                 53.4                         Metallica

11                 47.4                         Nickelback
12                 46.2                         "Walking With Dinosaurs"
13                 45.0                         Miley Cyrus
14                 43.7                         Trans-Siberian Orchestra
15                 42.8                         Eagles
16                 42.7                         Keith Urban
17                 42.6                         Celine Dion
18                 42.2                         Rascal Flatts
19                 40.8                         Coldplay
20                 40.7                         Paul McCartney

  • Paul McCartney

    Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Indio, Calif.
    April 17, 2009

    (AP Photo)


21                 37.2                         Phish
22                 35.4                         Brad Paisley
23                 34.6                         Jeff Dunham
24                 33.9                         No Doubt
25                 33.2                         Cher
26                 32.1                         Lil' Wayne
27                 30.5                         KISS
28                 30.1                         "American Idols Live"
29                 29.7                         Toby Keith
30                 29.1                         Bette Midler
31                 28.1                         Dane Cook

  • Dane Cook

    RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.
    November 8, 2009

    (Jason Moore)


32                 26.7                         Blink-182
33                 26.4                         The Dead
34                 26.4                         Beyoncé
35                 26.0                         Il Divo
36                 25.5                         Taylor Swift
37                 24.8                         Def Leppard
38                 24.2                         Cirque du Soleil - "Saltimbanco"
39                 23.5                         Mötley Crüe
40                 22.3                         Depeche Mode
41                 22.0                         George Strait

42                 21.9                         Eric Clapton / Steve Winwood
43                 21.8                         Kings Of Leon
44                 21.3                         Leonard Cohen
45                 20.4                         Bob Dylan
46                 19.7                         "So You Think You Can Dance"
47                 19.1                         Barry Manilow
48                 18.8                         Journey
49                 18.7                         Jimmy Buffett
50                 18.5                         Luis Miguel

* In US millions

This exclusive Pollstar chart ranks touring artists for all shows worked during the calendar 2009 year. All figures are in U.S. dollars. Average gross and tickets sold is per city except for the Las Vegas residencies for Cher and Bette Midler where the averages are per show.


  1. Umpire wrote:

    04:31 PM, Jan 15, 2010

    U2 needs to play more songs and not worry about these massive stages. Check out their set list for these last few tours, not counting the "snippets" they tease you with, full song set lists are getting less and less.  C'mon boys, I always see you at Springsteen shows, how about some Springsteen style set lists!

  2. nugrockstar wrote:

    12:52 PM, Jan 13, 2010

    U2 definitely deserves to be at the top here. They are probably one of the oldest bands on this list still going and going strong! Their show was absolutely amazing and worth every penny!! Can't wait to go to the show in NJ this summer!!

  3. Studebaker Hawk wrote:

    10:59 PM, Jan 08, 2010

     I'm sure glad I don't care to see most of them cause tickets are way too expensive! It must be the death of rock and roll(Right On Todd).

  4. loverslust12 wrote:

    09:17 AM, Jan 06, 2010

    U2 also only played 17 shows in the USA in 2009 and Bruce Springsteen played over 30 shows. There are many factors that can attribute to gross which are being overlooked.

  5. Anonymous wrote:

    01:55 PM, Jan 04, 2010

    Where are New Kids On the Block on this list? This list is rigged. They should've been on this list.

    *life in shambles*

  6. AngelofSuburbia wrote:

    12:55 PM, Jan 04, 2010

    What about Green Day!?!?!?!?!

  7. ricco wrote:

    10:04 AM, Jan 04, 2010

    yes a mexican artist made it...... Luis Miguel

  8. metsmaniac11 wrote:

    09:28 PM, Jan 02, 2010

    every single u2 show was 80,000 people at a stadium. most of springsteens shows were 20,000 at an arena. if springsteen played every show in a stadium, he and e street would have destroyed u2

  9. estreetbill wrote:

    07:03 PM, Jan 02, 2010

     One very important thing that Polls like this don't mention, and may not even consider. When a Poll like this determines which act was the highest grossing act, dollar figures are what the Pollsters use to determine which act came in at the No. 1 slot. It should be mentioned in this year's Poll results that in most cases Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band's high ticket price was $95.00 to $98.00 per ticket. Those were the best seats in the house. Whereas, U2 charged at least $250.00 for the best seats at their shows.  This is the main reason that U2 grossed more money than The E Street Band. It is a fact that no one ever takes a fact like this into consideration when printing these Poll results. It's the also why these type of Polls are worthless. Thank you.