With album sales being down considerably in the past decade artists have to rely much more on touring than before. From a fan’s perspective this is a good thing. Your favorite band will probably come around more often, and many have stepped up the quality of their live performances with longer shows and more varied set lists. Billboard recently compiled a list of the 25 most profitable tours over the past year, any category. We were able to distill that information down to the top ten biggest rock tours of 2013. Some acts were pretty much a given to be on the list, but there were certainly some surprises as well. Read on and see for yourself.
1. Bon Jovi
In the Bon Jovi classic “Wanted Dead Or Alive” Jon Bon Jovi sings “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all.” Well, during the band’s last tour over 2 million faces came to the show. Bon Jovi had the biggest tour of 2013, all genres considered, grossing a massive $205 million over 90 shows. These are some very impressive stats considering Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora was absent for the entire tour. Question remains to be seen if the band could pull off these kind of numbers again without Sambora, or if many of these tickets were sold before fans were aware of the guitarist’s absence?
2. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
For someone who has done the amount of touring Bruce Springsteen has in the past decade, it is a testament to his popularity that he is still the second highest ranked rock act with a gross total of over $147 million. Few know how to put on a three hour rock show like Bruce, and the fact that he completely alters the setlist each night brings people back for multiple shows.
3. Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones only did 23 shows, and still end up as the third highest grossing rock act of 2013 with a total of $126 million. Needless to say, the Stones charged quite a bit for these hard to come by tickets, and they did catch some heat for it as well. But from all accounts the Stones put on a great show night after night, with many concertgoers saying they’ve never seen the band this fired up. During the tour Keith Richards could be seen playing a TV yellow Les Paul Jr. and a black Gibson ES-355. Former Stones guitarist and special guest for the entire tour Mick Taylor would join the band for a fantastic version of “Midnight Rambler” each night on his Bigsby equipped Gibson Les Paul.
4. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift reached a new level of fame with the release of her Red album in 2012, and the tour that followed was no exception. All of her 66 shows were sellouts, with a total attendance of more than 1,3 million people, and grossing over $115 million in the process. With her on tour Swift brought her custom made red Gibson Les Paul adorned with red crystals in heart shaped patterns, proving that girls can rock too!
5. Roger Waters
Ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters took his stadium production of the Floyd classic The Wall on the road for a total of 27 shows, none of which were sold out. Nevertheless the show was seen by over 800,000 people and grossed $81 million.
6. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney did 21 shows in 2013, one of which saw him reunite with the surviving members of Nirvana during a concert in Seattle on July 19. Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear joined Macca on stage for a number of songs, including some Beatles material, as well as “Cut Me Some Slack” that they all recorded together for Grohl’s Sound City documentary. Even though only 15 shows were sold out, McCartney still managed to rake in over $69 million.
7. Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac had to take a break from touring during the fall due to bassist John McVie receiving cancer treatment. Nevertheless they managed to play to more than half a million people and gross almost $62 million. The band are scheduled to play the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on December 30, and lately there have been many rumors as to whether Christine McVie will rejoin Fleetwood Mac in the future, after a successful guest appearance with the band in London in September.
8. Maroon 5
I remember when Maroon 5 first came on the scene with the song “Harder to Breathe.” Back then they were marketed as an alternative rock act, and playing small clubs. Much have changed since then, and the band has become on of the most successful rock acts of the past decade. This year alone Maroon 5 grossed over $54 million, and sold out all but three of their sixty shows.
9. Dave Matthews Band
Bands that have a reputation of putting on good live shows are bound to have a big turnout, so it’s no surprise that whenever Dave Matthews Band goes out on tour it is basically guaranteed to be a success. While touring behind 2012’s Away from the World album, Dave Matthews band played to almost 900,000 people and grossed $52 million. Dave Matthews has recently said that the band is working on new songs for album number nine.
10. Iron Maiden
Heavy metal pioneers Iron Maiden are still at the top of their game and immensely popular. They brought in almost $45 million over 34 shows during their Maiden England Tour this year. The tour is scheduled to resume in late May 2014 before wrapping up with a concert at Knebworth Park in early July.