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The highest grossing music tours of all time

Photos logoPhotos 10/7/2016

Musicians and artists like nothing more than to play to their fans. And why wouldn't they? The financial rewards can be staggering. We count down some of the highest grossing music tours of all time.

Paul McCartney | Out There

TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 28:  Paul McCartney performs live at the Budokan on April 28, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images) © Ken Ishii/Getty Images TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 28: Paul McCartney performs live at the Budokan on April 28, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $275,700,000

Year: 2013-2015

Shows: 84

Attendees: 1,958,754

The former Beatles member fell ill in May 2013, so the tour was delayed, finally beginning in July. He was swarmed by grasshoppers in Goiânia and performed in Equador, Poland, South Korea, Costa Rica and Verona, Italy for the first time.

Celine Dion | Taking Chances World Tour

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 21: Singer Celine Dion performs during the 'Taking Chances' tour at the Conseco Fieldhouse on December 21, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic) © Joey Foley/Getty Images INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 21: Singer Celine Dion performs during the 'Taking Chances' tour at the Conseco Fieldhouse on December 21, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)

Actual Gross: $279,200,000

Year: 2008-2009

Shows: 132

Attendees: 2,200,000

Dion finished her five-year residency in Las Vegas and hit the road to promote her two new albums, “D’elles” and “Taking Chances.” The tours set a record in Canada when her Montreal shows tickets sold out within 35 minutes.

One Direction | Where We Are Tour

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 11:  (EDITORIAL USE ONLY; NO COVERS; NO USE IN ANY MAGAZINE OR OTHER PUBLICATION BASED PREDOMINANTLY ON ONE DIRECTION OR ANY ONE OR MORE MEMBERS OF ONE DIRECTION)  (L-R) Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik and Louis © Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY; NO COVERS; NO USE IN ANY MAGAZINE OR OTHER PUBLICATION BASED PREDOMINANTLY ON ONE DIRECTION OR ANY ONE OR MORE MEMBERS OF ONE DIRECTION) (L-R) Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik and Louis

Actual Gross: $290,178,452

Year: 2014

Shows: 69

Attendees: 3,439,560

A year before the band decided to split, their fans went to see them promote their third album “Midnight Memories.” The Australian pop band 5 Seconds of Summer was their opening act for the U.K., U.S.A. and European tour dates.

Madonna | The MDNA Tour

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12:  Madonna performs during the 'MDNA' tour at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images) © Taylor Hill/Getty Images NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Madonna performs during the 'MDNA' tour at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $305,158,363

Year: 2012

Shows: 88

Attendees: 2,212,345

The pop icon courted controversy on this tour with wardrobe malfunctions, use of religious symbols and defending LGBTQ rights in Russia. She played in the U.A.E., Ukraine, Scotland and Columbia for the first time.

The Rolling Stones | Licks Tour

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22:  (L-R)  Members of the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Woods, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, perform live on stage at the Sydney Superdome February 22, 2003 in Sydney, Australia. The Rolling Stones will play in three major Austra © Chris McGrath/Getty Images SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) Members of the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Woods, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, perform live on stage at the Sydney Superdome February 22, 2003 in Sydney, Australia. The Rolling Stones will play in three major Austra

Actual Gross: $311,000,000

Year: 2002-2003

Shows: 115

Attendees: 3,470,945

Concurrent with the release of their double compilation album “Forty Licks,” The Stones put together a dynamic set list of 80 songs and went on tour. The album, which featured four new songs, went platinum four times over. They had to cancel the East Asia leg of the tour due to the SARS outbreak.

The Rolling Stones | Voodoo Lounge Tour

Keith Richards and Ron Wood playing guitars on The Rolling Stones VOODOO LOUNGE TOUR at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, October 1989. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images) © Shinko Music/Getty Images Keith Richards and Ron Wood playing guitars on The Rolling Stones VOODOO LOUNGE TOUR at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, October 1989. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $320,000,000 

Year: 1994–1995 

Shows: 124 

Attendees: 6,336,776 

This tour came to be known for their elaborate stage designs and the absence of bassist Bill Wyman. Their album “Voodoo Lounge” went double platinum in the U.S. and also won the Grammy for best rock album in 1995. 

Bruce Springsteen | Wrecking Ball World Tour

VANCOUVER, CANADA - NOVEMBER 26:  Bruce Springsteen performs at Rogers Arena as part of his Wrecking Ball World Tour November 26, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) © Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images VANCOUVER, CANADA - NOVEMBER 26: Bruce Springsteen performs at Rogers Arena as part of his Wrecking Ball World Tour November 26, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $347,000,000

Year: 2012–2013

Shows: 127

Attendees: 3,650,535

America’s blue-collar troubadour was dealing with the loss of Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's saxophonist, when he and the E Street Band went on tour to promote his album “Wrecking Ball.” Springsteen was named the No. 1 musical act by Rolling Stone magazine that year. He also started working on his new album “High Hopes” during breaks on the tour and released it in 2014.

The Police | Reunion Tour

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 29: Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers of The Police take a final bow and wave the crowd farewell after performing on stage on Day 2 of 'Hard Rock Calling' on June 29th, 2008, in Hyde Park, London, England. This was th © Peter Still/Getty Images LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 29: Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers of The Police take a final bow and wave the crowd farewell after performing on stage on Day 2 of 'Hard Rock Calling' on June 29th, 2008, in Hyde Park, London, England. This was th

Actual Gross: $362,000,000

Year: 2007–2008

Shows: 156

Attendees: 3,300,912

The tour marked the band’s 30th anniversary and they performed their hit songs with a new spin. The series met with critical acclaim with tickets for the entire British tour selling out within 30 minutes.

Cirque Du Soleil | Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour

LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 21:  Cirque du Soleil dancers perform following a news conference announcing 'Michael Jackson ONE' at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on February 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Cirque du Sol © Isaac Brekken/Getty Images LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 21: Cirque du Soleil dancers perform following a news conference announcing 'Michael Jackson ONE' at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on February 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Cirque du Sol

Actual Gross: $371,000,000

Year: 2011–2014

Shows: 501

Attendees: 3,700,000

A musical theatrical production by Cirque du Soleil using the music and choreography of Michael Jackson, the arena show was similar to a rock concert. The show featured their signature acrobatic style and became the highest grossing Cirque production. It prompted them to make another Jackson inspired musical for a residency show in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

U2 | Vertigo Tour

UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 19:  TWICKENHAM  Photo of CONCERT and U2, performing live onstage on Vertigo tour, showing stage set and concert lighting  (Photo by Peter Still/Redferns) © Peter Still/Getty Images UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 19: TWICKENHAM Photo of CONCERT and U2, performing live onstage on Vertigo tour, showing stage set and concert lighting (Photo by Peter Still/Redferns)

Actual Gross: $389,047,636 

Year: 2005-2006 

Shows: 131 

Attendees: 4,619,021 

With an ellipse-shaped ramp and a huge LED-based light bead curtain, this tour was big on production. Promoting the band’s album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” that went multi-platinum worldwide, their set list was one of their most diverse featuring a song from each of their albums.

Madonna | Sticky & Sweet Tour

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Singer Madonna performs onstage during the opening night of her 'Sticky and Sweet' tour at the O2 Arena on July 4, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage) © Kevin Mazur/Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Singer Madonna performs onstage during the opening night of her 'Sticky and Sweet' tour at the O2 Arena on July 4, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Actual Gross: $408,000,000

Year: 2008–2009

Shows: 85

Attendees: 3,545,899

Madonna hit the road to promote the album “Hard Candy" in 2008. Changes were made midway through the tour when a Michael Jackson-inspired dance was introduced after he passed away in June 2009.

AC/DC | Black Ice World Tour

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 03:  Australian rock band AC/DC performs in concert on their 'Black Ice World Tour' at the Conseco Fieldhouse on November 3, 2008 in Indianapolis.  (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic) © Joey Foley/Getty Images INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 03: Australian rock band AC/DC performs in concert on their 'Black Ice World Tour' at the Conseco Fieldhouse on November 3, 2008 in Indianapolis. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)

Actual Gross: $441,121,000

Year: 2008-2010

Shows: 167

Attendees: 4,846,965

The last AC/DC show with founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young and their longtime drummer Phil Rudd. The tour promoted their album “Black Ice” that won a Grammy and went platinum.

Roger Waters | The Wall Live

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 11:  Roger Waters performs 'The Wall Live' at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on June 11, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images) © Joey Foley/Getty Images INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 11: Roger Waters performs 'The Wall Live' at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on June 11, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $458,673,798

Year: 2010–2013

Shows: 219

Attendees: 4,129,863

The former member of Pink Floyd launched a tour that was called “one of the most ambitious” shows and is the highest grossing tour by a solo artist of all time. Boasting a budget of $60 million, it was the first time the Pink Floyd album “The Wall” was performed in its entirety since a 1990s performance. Pyrotechnics, massive marionette puppets, crashing airplanes and 3D effects were part of the concert with a white wall erected on stage, brick by brick till it obscured the band and became the screen for visuals.

The Rolling Stones | A Bigger Bang Tour

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 18:  Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones perform during the 'A Bigger Bang Tour' concert at the Westpac Stadium on April 18, 2006 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images) © Marty Melville/Getty Images WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 18: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones perform during the 'A Bigger Bang Tour' concert at the Westpac Stadium on April 18, 2006 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $558,255,524

Year: 2005–2007

Shows: 147

Attendees: 4,680,000

To accompany their “A Bigger Bang” album, the band went on a two-year tour. It remains iconic for the free concert on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Feb. 18, 2006. They finally performed in China after canceling the Licks Tour and had to modify their set list as some songs were considered “too suggestive” by the government.

U2 | 360° Tour 

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 30:  A view of the stage as U2 perform onstage on the first night of their 360 tour held at Camp Nou on June 30, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images) © Getty Images BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 30: A view of the stage as U2 perform onstage on the first night of their 360 tour held at Camp Nou on June 30, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Actual Gross: $736,421,584

Year: 2009–2011

Shows: 110

Attendees: 7,272,046

The Irish rockers set up a 360° stage with a giant screen suspended above them in a contraption nicknamed “the Claw.” The set up allowed the audience to almost surround the stage and increased the venues’ capacity by up to 25 percent. Messages from the International Space Station, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Aung San Suu Kyi were telecast during the performance. The band’s profits were minimal as the production cost of the tour were high.


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