Stones roll by U2 for top-grossing tour
EmptyNASHVILLE -- The Rolling Stones have recaptured the "top-grossing tour ever" mantle from U2 with their $437 million A Bigger Bang trek, and tour producer Michael Cohl indicates they may pad that record.
From March 28, 2005, to March 2, 2006, U2's Vertigo tour rang up grosses of more than $333 million. That put U2 ahead of the Stones' $320 million Voodoo Lounge tour of 1994-95, and the band's 10 stadium makeup shows this month will take the total to 121 shows and a gross of about $377 million.
But the Stones' numbers from A Bigger Bang shatter that mark. Since the fall of 2005, the band has drawn 3.5 million people to 113 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore. In addition, an estimated crowd of 2 million saw the band perform at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro back in February. The tour, like every Stones trek since 1989, was produced by Cohl under the Concert Productions International banner, with Live Nation.
Though nothing's official, it appears likely the band will stretch the tour into 2007, making the $500 million mark easily within reach. "I don't think we're done," Cohl tells Billboard.com. "There are still a lot of cancellations in Europe that the band the band feel obligated to try and make up. So I wouldn't be surprised if it keeps going next year."
A Bigger Bang was not without drama, including brain surgery for Keith Richards, rehab for Ron Wood and some vocal stress for Mick Jagger. "Definitely there was drama and hurdles, but at the end of the day, if you tour long enough, everything's gonna happen, isn't it?," Cohl says. "We had to reschedule a couple here and there, but other than the ones in early summer in Europe, which we couldn't make up, we played everything. And they were great."
A highlight of the tour were November performances at New York's Beacon Theatre that were filmed by famed director Martin Scorcese for an upcoming feature film. Those shows came after the Stones had played nothing but stadiums for some seven months. "Talk about a shock to the system. On the other hand, talk about exciting," says Cohl, adding that the final Scorcese product should be special.
"Look forward to it," Cohl says. "The set list is dramatically different than anything you've seen from the Rolling Stones for a long, long time. There are bunch of songs that you've never seen them do, or that they haven't done in 25 or 30 years. Add Martin Scorcese's bent to it and you're going to get something really unique."