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Best of 2023: Elton John’s farewell tour

Ahead of the return of our daily IQ Index newsletter on Tuesday 2 January, we are revisiting some of our most popular interviews from the last 12 months. Here, IQ talks to the power players behind Sir Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour…

Having set a new world record for the highest-grossing tour in history, Elton John brought the final curtain down on an extraordinary 50-plus years of touring when he took to the stage at Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena on 8 July. Gordon Masson talks to some of the people who made the extraordinary Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour a reality…

In January 2018, when Elton John announced that Farewell Yellow Brick Road would be his last tour, little did anyone know that his final bow would be more than five years later, after the coronavirus pandemic forcibly delayed his touring retirement.

With the legendary star turning 76 earlier this year, he has spoken about his desire to spend more time with his family – artist manager husband David Furnish and children Zachary (12) and Elijah (10) – and therefore started plotting his final tour when he was on the road with the Wonderful Crazy Night Tour.

“We started having this conversation [about the farewell tour] in 2016/17,” says Rocket Music Entertainment Group’s Keith Bradley, who has been working with Elton John for more than 40 years and is the artist’s de facto agent outside of North America, as well as tour director on Farewell Yellow Brick Road.

Taking up the tale, Furnish, tells IQ, “It’s been well documented – when we looked at our boys’ school schedule, we saw that it was incompatible with the way our life was. So, we needed to get him off the road and do a big farewell tour.”

“I gave them an idea of what we were thinking in terms of the number of shows and the amount of money. And everyone thought I’d lost my mind”

Bradley reveals that Rocket’s management spoke to both Live Nation and AEG Presents about proposals for Elton’s final bow and chose the latter, who he describes as “just brilliant partners”.

“David and I flew to LA to meet with Jay Marciano at AEG, and I gave them an idea of what we were thinking in terms of the number of shows and the amount of money. And everyone thought I’d lost my mind,” Bradley states, noting that his prediction of 300 dates for the tour may have raised an eyebrow or two, but in reality, he expected a great deal more. “In my head, it was going to be closer to 400 shows.”

Heartache All Over The World
Bradley confirms that the original schedule would have seen the Dodger Stadium shows in Los Angeles last November being the final dates of the farewell tour, albeit two years earlier, in 2021. “This year’s European leg should have been in the pandemic time period, as should have been Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. But sadly, that had to be truncated… There’s a lot of stuff that fell off the tour, which was disappointing for sure.”

Furnish agrees, naming Brazil as a huge market for Elton, while “China has opened up more and also Japan.” He observes, “In retrospect, Elton wishes he’d toured Japan more as he didn’t quite put as much of a footprint down there. So, we were excited at the possibility of going back in a big way with [the farewell] tour. But alas, looking at those markets post-lockdown, with inflation, increased fuel costs, air freight, shipping… that, unfortunately, just took them off the table.”

But he notes that the record-breaking Disney livestream of the Dodgers Stadium concert “gave those fans at least an opportunity to see the concert if they couldn’t get there in person”.

“I’m always looking for ways to make Elton discoverable and relevant to a young audience”

As CEO of Rocket Entertainment, Furnish has been managing his husband’s career for the past eight years, during which he masterminded a strategy to expand Elton’s fanbase by exposing him and his music to younger generations – a campaign from which promoters around the world have reaped the rewards.

“The younger demographic stuff was something that I felt passionate about because nobody in our organisation, when I took over, even uttered the word ‘digital,’” reveals Furnish. “So, I spent a lot of time looking at places where young people were discovering music and where I thought Elton could have a really authentic presence.”

For example, a meeting between Furnish and Jimmy Iovine, who at the time was setting up Beats Radio (now Apple Music), provided a perfect platform for music-obsessive Elton to exercise his A&R skills. “It gave Elton a really natural home on a digital music streaming platform,” Furnish notes. “I’m always looking for ways to make Elton discoverable and relevant to a young audience. Most recently, he did the first concert on the Roblox platform at the same time as the Dodger Stadium concerts happened – we put elements of the Roblox show in the stadium show and a cut-down version of the concert on the platform itself.”

The biographical movie, Rocketman, also helped introduce the star and his music to a new audience.

“We worked for a long time to bring out Elton’s story in a way that they would find entertaining rather than just the usual biopic, which is why we did it as a musical fantasy film,” explains Furnish. “I think young people connect with him there because of the story of addiction, loving yourself, rejection and acceptance from family, sexuality – all things that young people talk about and relate to today. Elton has lived that life and continues to do so.”

“When Jay Marciano went to the first meeting to discuss the tour, he led with a strong marketing proposal and a vision to make Farewell Yellow Brick Road the greatest tour of all time”

Rocket’s COO, Luke Lloyd-Davies, says that prior to Furnish taking over management duties, “there were lots of points of entry to Elton in terms of strategic vision. When David came on board, he appointed me as chief operating officer to put in place Elton and David’s vision for the future.”

Noting that Elton has historically played on average around 100 shows a year, Lloyd-Davies believes the skills of tour director Bradley and agent Howard Rose played a significant role in generating interest. “In America, they would operate and navigate in territories outside of the major markets in the build-up to this big farewell tour. So, when we hit the major territories and big cities, demand was through the roof.”

Sartorial Eloquence
Enjoying a successful history with Elton’s live career, AEG Presents tasked Debra Rathwell, executive vice president global touring and talent, with overseeing the epic Farewell Yellow Brick Road project.

“Elton and David knew that they wanted this to be a worldwide tour; they wanted to play to as many of Elton’s fans as possible, and they understood that it would take multiple years to accomplish that goal,” says Rathwell. “When Jay Marciano went to the first meeting to discuss the tour, he led with a strong marketing proposal and a vision to make Farewell Yellow Brick Road the greatest tour of all time, and Elton and David were thinking along the same lines. It’s safe to say that they were pretty much in agreement about the vision for the tour.”

Loyalty played a major role in that vision.

“The right thing to do was to respect the international promoters who had promoted Elton John shows for most of his career”

“Jay agreed with Elton and David that the right thing to do was to respect the international promoters who had promoted Elton John shows for most of his career,” says Rathwell. “It was fortuitous that one of those promoters was our co-promoting partner, Barrie Marshall, who became the promoter of all of the UK shows and the co-promoter of all of the European shows.” In Australia, meanwhile, long-time promoter Michael Chugg took the reins, alongside AEG-affiliated partners Frontier Touring.

For his part, Marshall comments, “It is a source of great pride that Elton has trusted us to present so many shows and we are sincerely grateful for the opportunities. We never forget that he had many other choices of people to work with, so this is extremely special to every- one in the company, and we have tried always to honour his belief in us.”

Rathwell reveals that the first FYBR planning meeting in 2017 involved tour director Bradley; agent Howard Rose; Marciano; Marshall and Doris Dixon from Marshall Arts; and Donna DiBenedetto, VP of touring for AEG Presents. “The first order of business was to make it as manageable as possible, so we divided the entire tour into two: Round One and Round Two.”

Round Two would be a complex affair.

The last date of Round One was at Bankwest Stadium in Paramatta, Sydney on 7 March 2020. Four days later, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Elton had completed 179 shows but was only halfway through the tour.

“A lot of the UK shows recently – and the London ones specifically – saw people holding their ticket for something like 1,300 days from the moment they bought it”

After a 22-month hiatus and multiple reschedules, Elton John played his first post-Covid gig at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on 19 January 2022. “Though we had very stringent protocols in place, Elton John had to announce that he had Covid on 25 January, and two shows in Dallas had to be postponed,” says Rathwell.

But while there have been postponements aplenty, the only shows that had to actually be cancelled due to Covid restrictions were four Canadian arena dates – and that’s because Canadian authorities were only allowing venues to operate at 50% capacity at the time.

The spiralling post-pandemic costs brought obvious dilemmas for a tour whose tickets had gone on sale in early 2018.

“Thankfully, when we released new dates, we saw a huge surge in interest, and that made the economics much better and more manageable,” says operations chief Lloyd-Davies. He adds that the patience of the fans has been unprecedented. “A lot of the UK shows recently – and the London ones specifically – saw people holding their ticket for something like 1,300 days from the moment they bought it back in January 2018.”

Barrie Marshall notes that for re rescheduled European shows, team Elton “[tried] as much as possible to keep the same ‘days of the week’ to make it easier for the public to change their plans. We are all so impressed to see the loyalty of his fans who waited so patiently – but they have all been rewarded with mega shows.”

“The ‘ask’ from Emily Eavis was the most serendipitous timing in the world”

Covid posed other unique issues. Citing the concertina effect on dates, Bradley believes that only Elton John could achieve the run of shows that he did. “In New York, we played eight arena shows in Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Nassau Coliseum in New ark, and then three months later we played two stadium shows at MetLife. The gap between should have been at least a year,” opines Bradley. “I’m incredibly proud that we manoeuvred through everything that was thrown at us.”

Indeed, while the plan to use the Dodger Stadium shows as the final goodbye may have become another pandemic anomaly, the flip side was the prolonged tour schedule opened a door for Elton John to make his Glastonbury Festival debut.

“The ‘ask’ from Emily Eavis was the most serendipitous timing in the world,” says Furnish. “[Glastonbury, on 25 June] wrapped beautifully around the Paris tour dates [on 21, 27, and 28 June]. It would have been physically impossible to drop a massive gig like Glastonbury, with the backup support and crew and everything that we need, if we had been touring in another part of the world. So, I’m convinced this was meant to happen.”

Passengers
With more than 330 shows across North America, Australasia, and Europe, the tour has relied on the local knowledge of dozens of promoters, all of whom have been determined to make the farewell experience as memorable as possible for El- ton and his band, as well as the ticket-buying fans.

“I have known Elton since the early ‘70s, while my touring relationship with him started in the late ‘90s and involves lots of standout moments playing all sorts of places in Australia: Elton has a thirst to play to audiences who may never get the chance otherwise to see him,” says Michael Chugg of Chugg Entertainment.

“The fact that he’s worked with Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa and those sorts of combinations have added to a younger crowd wanting to see this absolute legend”

Heralding Elton’s ability to shine a spotlight on other artists, Chugg tells IQ, “We played outdoors in Darwin, and I was backstage with him when Gurrumul, the blind, indigenous iconic musician was playing. Elton loved it so much that he asked the manager to drive 60 miles to get him 25 CDs. Two weeks later, all these heavyweight UK industry people started to reach out to Gurrumul. That’s Elton.”

Despite the disappointment in many territories where the farewell tour could not visit, there were beneficiaries as well – Chugg being one of them. “We finished the original 40 down under shows just over a week before the lockdowns, but we lost two shows in Auckland, which Elton promised to make up,” reports Chugg. “In January this year, he brought the whole monster show back, allowing us to programme additional stadium shows in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Christchurch, and Newcastle.”

Kim Bloem, at Mojo Concerts, is another promoter to benefit from the pandemic interruption, as the rescheduled dates allowed her to put an extra stadium date on sale in the Netherlands. Bloem took over Dutch promoting duties for Elton John in 2016, when Mojo founder Leon Ramakers took a step back.

“On this tour, we did two shows in June 2019 at the Ziggo Dome, which were phenomenal. At that time, we did not think he would be coming back. But after Covid, we were able to add a show at GelreDome in Arnhem,” reports Bloem. “His audience just seems to get bigger all the time – there were a lot of kids in the GelreDome. The fact that he’s worked with Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa and those sorts of combinations have added to a younger crowd wanting to see this absolute legend.

“At the GelreDome, you could sense that he felt it was the last show in front of those Dutch fans as he made such a great connection with the audience. I was a bit sad because I realised that it might be the final time I see Elton perform. His songs resonate with me and my family so much, so it gave me goosebumps and it gave me tears but also laughter. It was a joyous show.”

“The production was very ticket-selling friendly with the aim of giving as many people as possible the chance to see the show”

In Italy, D’Alessandro and Galli have been promoting Elton for 35 years. “There are so many memories, from the arena in Verona to Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples and the unforgettable last show in Milan,” says company co-founder Mimmo D’Alessandro.

“We managed to host the farewell shows in two iconic locations – the city walls in Lucca and San Siro Stadium in Milan, which allowed close to 80,000 people to see Elton live for the last time. We are incredibly proud. These shows will stay forever in the memories of thousands of fans.”

Klaus-Peter Matziol at Peter Rieger Konzertagentur had 20 dates on the tour: seven in 2019, two stadium shows in 2022, and 11 arena performances this year. “Since 1999, we have done over 100 shows with Elton John in Germany, selling over 1m tickets,” he says. “Farewell Yellow Brick Road was the perfect highlight, staging an extraordinary, emotional farewell show.

“The production was very ticket-selling friendly with the aim of giving as many people as possible the chance to see the show. We supported this with last-minute campaigns, social media tour-book reporting from the road, and having a waiting list for tickets.”

Further north, Tor Nielsen at Live Nation Sweden estimates he’s been involved in around a dozen Elton John tours. “We’ve done shows in Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, and tons of shows in Norway. Sometimes we play B markets and sometimes A markets: it’s been a lot of fun.”

“The great thing about this show is there is no such thing as a bad seat: the sightlines are magnificent”

Nielsen, too, tips his hat to Furnish and the Rocket team for their work on expanding the audience demographics. “When we released tickets on the show day in 2022 – sideview seats, for instance – a lot of the people who bought those tickets were under 20 years of age.

The Big Picture
The farewell tour production itself is spectacular, with a sweeping, curved stage that in the arena configuration dips so low that those in the front row almost appear to be on stage themselves.

In terms of the vision for the show, the core team consisted of creative directors Furnish, Tony King and Sam Pattinson, lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe, Ray Winkler from set design experts Stufish, and tour director Bradley.

Noting the unique design of the stage, Bradley says, “Very early on, Tony King, myself, and Ray from Stufish were moving round apples and biscuits on a table, working out where everything was going to go. We presented the concept to Elton and David, where we had the conversation about if it was going to work for everybody in terms of the musicians, the crew who had to put it together and, of course, the audience.

“The great thing about this show is there is no such thing as a bad seat: the sightlines are magnificent. You can be at the side of the stage and there’s no impingement whatsoever. In reality, the side views are some of the best seats in the house.”

“You don’t want to use all your tricks in the first half of the show – there should be something in every song to keep the audience engaged”

Having such a rich and successful tour history, Elton and his Rocket Music Entertainment Group have a trusted pool of contractors and suppliers that they rely upon to realise their live performance vision. In the case of the farewell tour, PRG provided lighting; Clair Global supplied sound equipment; TAIT constructed the stage and proscenium (in collaboration with Stageco for the outdoor shows); Solotech took care of video; trucking services were the realm of Transam; and Phoenix buses carried personnel from city to city while Rock-it Global handled freight.

As one of the core creative minds tasked with developing the production set and aesthetics, lighting designer Woodroffe tells IQ he has been working on Elton John tours since 1994: “This is my 30th year with him,” he says, revealing that the creative team spent an intense three weeks on a sound stage in Lititz, Pennsylvania, honing the production’s content and “figuring out how we could stitch it all together”.

“You don’t want to use all your tricks in the first half of the show – there should be something in every song to keep the audience engaged,” says Woodroffe, citing the content for Have Mercy on the Criminal as just one moment that surprises the audience with something they were not expecting.

“You never want to overpower the raw performance of the artist and musicians with lighting and video,” says Woodroffe. “You can make each song more poignant and touching, or fun, with the way you light it, and that’s ultimately my task.
“Elton is very prescriptive about his setlist – he basically delivered it to us nine months in advance and then let us get on with things without interference: it’s an incredibly generous and trusting thing for an artist to do.”

And highlighting the leadership role of Furnish in steering the creative team, Woodroffe also applauds Sam Pattinson’s role in commissioning various artists to create original video content for each of the songs on the setlist: “The videos just set the production apart,” he states.

“When I first went to concerts, you’d get turfed out if you took a photo or even went in with a camera. Now everybody takes pictures or films the show”

Furnish, who came up with the Farewell Yellow Brick Road concept, generously praises his creative colleagues for the look of the set. “It was really the genius of the team at Stufish and Tony King who came up with the idea of the gold frame [around the stage] being made up of key moments from Elton’s life,” he says.

Explaining the thinking behind the impressive feat of having Elton and his grand piano traverse the stage, Furnish says, “When I first went to concerts, you’d get turfed out if you took a photo or even went in with a camera. Now everybody takes pictures or films the show. With Elton stationary behind the piano on one side of the stage, the travelator gave an opportunity for everybody in the venue to at least feel that he was closer to them at key moments.”

Some of the standout elements of the show are the videos that accompany each song on the setlist. Furnish tells IQ, “We spent a lot of time thinking about what the songs meant to Elton and how, in some instances, they had been represented in the past but how that might not necessarily work today.

“So, there’s a David LaChapelle film for Candle in the Wind where he recreated the last photoshoot of Marilyn Monroe. It’s a masterpiece – a brilliant piece of filmmaking. It touches Elton on a couple of levels. Obviously, the song is about Marilyn Monroe. But it was also Bert Stern’s last photograph session with her, and Elton is a big collector – we own some photographs from that shoot. It’s deeply personal in that regard.”

The Power
It’s not just the promoters who boast long-standing relationships with Sir Elton, as he has also remained steadfastly loyal to suppliers and crew.

“You come away from the shows thinking, ‘Why are they stopping?’ Elton has never been more popular; he’s still at the top of his game!”

That loyalty has been crucial, however, with Bradley noting, “We’ve been on the road for five and a half years, which is longer than the run for most Broadway plays.”

In addition to lighting, PRG supplies the tour’s rigging. “We first became involved in the planning for the tour back in 2017, while the first actual dates were in August 2018 in the United States,” says PRG’s Jon Cadbury, who pays tribute to colleague Curry Grant and his team, who put the first US outing together in 2018 at TAIT’s facility in Lititz, Pennsylvania and have looked after FYBR everywhere outside Europe.

“The show involves very careful prep, and Elton brought a lot of crew from the United States over to Europe with him – in the core crew, there are five regular US guys and three regulars from the UK, all of whom have been with him for
many years. So, although jumping from indoors to outdoors – arenas to stadiums – is a challenge, these things are always surmountable when you have an experienced crew. The great thing about this production is that the core team has been together for a very long time, and it all feels like a big family, so it has been a privilege to spend time with them.”

Cadbury continues, “What comes across strongly is that Elton loves performing and enjoys being on stage with his band. And that feeling continues backstage – it’s just a very well managed and well put together production. In fact, you come away from the shows thinking, ‘Why are they stopping?’ Elton has never been more popular; he’s still at the top of his game!”

The stunning set, featuring that downstage piano platform that traverses and pirouettes across the stage, was constructed by TAIT. The complex production houses two video screens – a main backdrop and a video ramp – as well as a platform for the band. The stage itself sweeps low in a curve so that fans feel like they are with- in touching distance of the star. The design’s golden proscenium surrounds the massive video wall, bedecked with iconic imagery from Elton’s colourful career.
TAIT’s Shannon Nickerson has been working on the farewell tour project since early 2017.

“For the rotating piano, we worked with the different radiuses to make sure the piano could fit in both corners”

“I know at that point Rocket and Stufish had already been working on it for about a year, so when they came to us, they had a concept, and then we jumped in from that point,” she says.

“For the rotating piano, we worked with the different radiuses to make sure the piano could fit in both corners. The stage holds an arc that they had set for sightlines, but we also removed a large section so that they could fill as many seats as possible.”

That eye-catching design has also been seen by millions of fans at the outdoor shows, thanks to a clever collaboration with Stageco. “The stadium show had huge tusks built by Stageco. But they constructed a sub deck, allowing the arena set to be also used in the stadiums,” says Nickerson.

Another feature of the set is the artwork around the arch. “It’s one of my favourite things about the production,” states Nickerson. “We worked with Jacqui Pyle who built maquettes that were a 6-to-1 scale. And then we took those, scanned them, and moved them up to the full- scale needed before sculpting and painting them.”

Keeping the surprises rolling until the very end, the stage is also fitted with a platform that allows the artist to make a slow ascent toward the video screen as he bids farewell to the fans before exiting through a portal in the video wall.

“Elton has a global appeal like no one else, and to be able to sell out arenas and stadiums on your farewell tour is very special”

Nickerson tells IQ, “It’s a complicated setup, as we had to figure in the pitch of the LED and the video wall and make sure it all works seamlessly. But you don’t know that there’s a door there for the whole show, and then suddenly it appears for his exit before the video wall closes behind him.”

Bradley acknowledges that in addition to all the gimmicks, bells and whistles, the audio itself is world-class. “We’re a very sound-oriented organisation and always have been,” he notes. “It’s always been about playing live and trying to create the best you can for the guy in the audience. We’ve been very fortunate over the decades, and the guy we’ve got right now, Matt Herr from Clair Global, is super. Same with our monitor guy, Alan Richardson, who goes back to Frank Sinatra. We’ve got very good people.”

Clair Global’s general manager Scott Appleton says, “Elton has a global appeal like no one else, and to be able to sell out arenas and stadiums on your farewell tour is very special. But he’s been to places nobody else would go to over the decades – he’s played Anchorage Alaska; he played the university in Newark, Delaware one time – and that’s amassed a huge audience for him.”

Appleton says Clair owes Elton John a world of gratitude. “The company was started by Roy and Gene Clair in 1966, and the relationship with Elton began in 1971. Roy said Elton was pivotal in handing them a successful business. The Elton John name to the company and Clair family is just massive, and we cannot thank the man enough for what he’s done for this company.”

Can I Put You On
Farewell Yellow Brick Road has now sold more than 6 million tickets, delighting the promoters who have also been afforded the chance to say goodbye to Sir Elton John.

“The fact that it had to be re-scheduled more than once seemed somehow to give it even more momentum”

“Elton’s shows have always been superb, but this production has enhanced and surpassed everything that has gone before,” says Marshall at Marshall Arts, who has been working with Elton for 27 years. “The content in some of the videos show a lot of history – reminding people of special moments. His musicians are amazing and the telepathy between Elton and the band is a joy to watch.”

“The fact that it had to be re-scheduled more than once seemed somehow to give it even more momentum. Elton and David were kind enough to invite the crew and touring party to their home as a final get together, and Jay Marciano announced so many records that had been broken – it was quite a staggering list. Jay has really been the driving force for this tour – he’s a remarkable man with remarkable talent and his care for Elton, David and everyone involved has been wonderful to see,” adds Marshall.

“It’s a great honour to be part of Elton John’s very successful farewell tour,” says Stefan Wyss at Gadget abc Entertainment in Switzerland, which promoted a stadium show last year in Berne, as well as two sold-out arena shows in early July in Zürich’s Hallenstadion.

“The arena shows were originally announced for 2020 and had to be postponed several times due to Covid,” continues Wyss. “Those shows were sold out long before the stadium show was announced, but we had to postpone them until a year after the stadium. Luckily, there were almost no refunds – no one wants to miss this show.”

The tour is a personal highlight for Ben Martin at Marshall Arts, which in addition to being the promoter in Elton’s native UK, has coordinated all the European dates. “In terms of duration and number of cities, I’ve never worked on anything bigger,” he says. “We’ve had three tour legs through Europe, but there have been very few repeats – we only tended to go to market in each city once, so we never overplayed things, while we were able to pick off all the key cities.

“Elton has always had a multigenerational audience, but the work done by David Furnish and Rachael Paley to broaden that fanbase worked perfectly”

“There was such a demand everywhere, so that even when we had to reschedule shows because of Elton’s hip operation, people still did not ask for refunds – it really was the golden ticket they wanted to hang on to.”

Martin discloses that Marshall Arts were also unexpected beneficiaries of extra shows. “The ten shows at The O2 were a result of the rescheduling and re-routing, and because we’ve been promoting Elton since 1997, from a marketing perspective, I knew exactly which channels to run to reach his fans.”

He adds, “Elton has always had a multigenerational audience, but the work done by David Furnish and Rachael Paley to broaden that fanbase worked perfectly, from his Snickers advert, John Lewis advert, tie-ups with Britney Spears and Dua Lipa, to the book and the film – it’s been brilliantly executed.”

Just Like Belgium
Not all of the tour’s promoters were veterans of Elton John’s touring past. First-timer Pascal Van De Velde at Greenhouse Talent in Ghent was determined to be involved in the historic farewell outing. “Elton’s music is bigger than life, and when I saw that there was a book coming out and the movie of his life, I totally believed the tour would be special – and Barrie and Doris at Marshall Arts were gracious enough to allow me to promote the Belgian shows,” he says.

“Elton John has reinvented himself many times during his career, and his appeal just spans the generations. There were 16-year-old girls crying with emotion at the end of the shows – it was a beautiful mix of audience, aged eight to 88.”

“It has been a long, exciting road, and it was very hard to say farewell”

Van De Velde also flags the loyalty of the fans. “Tickets were sold in the fall of 2019, but 95% of the fans held onto them until the concerts. And on the show days, the no-shows were just 1%, which is less than for a normal show, and way, way better than the 25% no-shows we saw for a lot of the Covid-postponed gigs.

“I have to applaud everyone involved: Jay Marciano’s team at AEG were super, while Ben Martin and all at Marshall Arts are a pleasure to work with. For such a big production, it’s like clockwork, and if one small cog isn’t working, it
can all fall apart. But Farewell Yellow Brick Road was flawless, and I can understand why it has set new records.”

Matziol at Peter Rieger Konzertagentur says, “It was – and always has been – a huge honour to be the touring partner for an exceptional artist like Elton John. We would like to take the opportunity to thank Keith Bradley, [TM] DC Parmet, Barrie Marshall, Doris Dixon, and many, many others for this outstanding relationship. It has been a long, exciting road, and it was very hard to say farewell.”

In Australia, Chugg says being involved in the farewell tour is a highlight of his 60-year career, and he has booked tickets to fly to Sweden for the charismatic star’s final show. “We played 50 shows to 1m people in Australia and New Zealand. I will always be grateful to AEG, Elton, and his team for allowing me to be part of it,” says Chugg.

That concert in Stockholm on 8 July was the 331st gig on the tour. Despite being in charge of the superstar’s final tour date, Live Nation’s Tor Nielsen was not feeling under pressure. “All the shows are farewell shows – it’s farewell Bergen, farewell Gothenburg, farewell Stockholm…” he says.

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Tour has been the honour of a lifetime”

“The production, the band, and Elton himself are incredible, and I’m not surprised that Farewell Yellow Brick Road has broken records everywhere… Artists like Elton John are not made any more. He is one of a kind.”

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Tour has been the honour of a lifetime,” says AEG’s Rathwell. “I cannot imagine the last six years of my life without Elton John and all of the members of our close-knit team. Jay Marciano and I often chat about what an extraordinary experience it has been to be involved with Elton John, his team, and this tour. We have never worked with such a strong team of professionals who work co- operatively and collaboratively.”

Barrie Marshall states, “Nobody who has seen this show across the world will ever forget it – truly a memory for all time… One thing is for sure, his creative genius and dedication to all music, is never going to go away – and we can all be very thankful for that.”

The Last Song
Nobody is more thrilled than Furnish. “The tour has outperformed all of our expectations. We knew we would do well, but we didn’t set out to be the highest-grossing tour in history,” he says.

“It’s just been a total team effort. Everybody rose to the occasion because I think they felt that they were part of something very special. Elton sets a very high bar; he goes on stage and thinks every show has to be as good as or better than the last one. He’s really focused and dedicated, and I think everybody feels inspired by that.”

“I don’t think Elton’s ever going to stop performing – it would be telling an artist never to paint again”

COO Lloyd-Davies observes. “I don’t think Elton’s ever going to stop performing – it would be telling an artist never to paint again. But his days of touring are definitely over – he would personally find it quite disingenuous if he went back out on the road.”

But with rumours of Broadway and West End projects and a touring exhibition circulating, Lloyd-Davies discloses, “We’re not putting on our slippers and watching boxsets. I can’t ever imagine Elton being that guy. He wants to write more. He wants to record more, collaborate more. There’s been talk about an Elton John musical at some point. The whole immersive space is fascinating to us, but we don’t want to rush into that.”

Furnish confirms new projects are definitely in the mix. “I’ve been with Elton for 30 years, and he’s been on the road for 28 of them. Performing live is such a vital part of who he is, so I hope we can find a non-travelling, limited-run way for him to keep his fingers nimble and his voice flexed and continue to do what he does. It’s part of what keeps him alive, and he has a way of bringing people together that in a divided world is increasingly hard to find.

He concludes, “Elton is like a shark: he has to keep moving forward to stay alive. He has the most extraordinary drive. Believe me, it’s not like you’re never going to see or hear from him again.”

 

 


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Total gross revealed for Elton John farewell tour

Elton John’s record-shattering Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour ended with a total gross of US$939.1 million (€837m), according to Billboard Boxscore.

Six million people attended the epic 330-show run, which began at the PPL Center in Allentown Pennsylvania way back in September 2018 and took in five continents before wrapping up in Stockholm with the second of two nights at Tele2 Arena on 8 July this year.

While the trek stopped short of becoming the first $1 billion tour, it comfortably surpassed Ed Sheeran’s 2017-19 ÷ (Divide) Tour – which grossed $776.2m from 255 dates – to be crowned as the highest-grossing concert tour ever.

“To every person who has worked on this tour and my extraordinary crew, the backbone of every show, I cannot begin to express my thanks,” writes Elton on Instagram. “From the lighting wizards to the talented sound and design engineers and costume magicians, tireless drivers and incredible caterers, talented photographer, our brilliant partners at AEG, Marshall Arts and Chugg Entertainment and of course my first-class band, each one of you brings this show to life.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making every performance an unforgettable experience and filling the last five years of the farewell tour with memories I will never forget.”

A special report on the tour appears in the current issue of IQ Magazine, which can be read by subscribers here.

“We knew we would do well, but we didn’t set out to be the highest-grossing tour in history”

“We started having this conversation [about the farewell tour] in 2016/17,” says Rocket Music Entertainment Group’s Keith Bradley, who has been working with Elton for more than 40 years and is the artist’s de facto agent outside of North America, as well as tour director on Farewell Yellow Brick Road.

“David [Furnish, Elton’s manager husband] and I flew to LA to meet with Jay Marciano at AEG, and I gave them an idea of what we were thinking in terms of the number of shows and the amount of money,” adds Bradley. “And everyone thought I’d lost my mind. In my head, it was going to be closer to 400 shows.”

Bradley confirms that, pre-pandemic, the tour was originally set to conclude two years earlier, in 2021, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, US.

“The tour has outperformed all of our expectations,” adds Rocket Entertainment Group CEO Furnish, speaking to IQ. “We knew we would do well, but we didn’t set out to be the highest-grossing tour in history.

“It’s just been a total team effort. Everybody rose to the occasion because I think they felt that they were part of something very special. Elton sets a very high bar; he goes on stage and thinks every show has to be as good as or better than the last one. He’s really focused and dedicated, and I think everybody feels inspired by that.”

Other new entries in Billboard‘s all-time top 10 are Harry Styles’ ongoing Love on Tour, which checks in at No.4 with $590.3m from 4.7 million ticket sales, while Coldplay’s current Music of the Spheres Tour is at No.6, having grossed $561.2m from 5.8m attendees.

 


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Elton John’s historic Glasto set smashes records

Elton John looks to have smashed attendance and viewership records for the last UK show of his farewell tour at Glastonbury.

The 76-year-old legend delivered a two-hour set packed with hits from across his five-decades-long career, including ‘Pinball Wizard’ which he hadn’t performed in over a decade.

Early estimates had the Sunday night performance as one of the most-attended of all time – possibly eclipsing Dolly Parton in 2014 – with at least 120,000 in the audience.

Meanwhile, 7.6 million tuned in to watch live on BBC One – the biggest-ever overnight audience for a Glastonbury set.

In comparison, in 2022 Diana Ross was the most-watched star with 3.1m and Paul McCartney’s headline set was seen by 2.7m.

“I never thought I’d play Glastonbury – and here I am,” he said. “I’m so happy to be here. I won’t ever forget this. It’s a very special and emotional night for me as it may be my last show in England, in Great Britain. I’d better play well and I’d better entertain you because you’ve been standing there so long.”

7.6 million tuned in to watch live on BBC One – the biggest-ever overnight audience for a Glastonbury set

The 21-song set included hits such as ‘The Bitch Is Back’, ‘Bennie and the Jet’ and ‘I’m Still Standing,’ as well as a number of guest appearances.

Jacob Lusk of US soul group Gabriels accompanied John on ‘Are You Ready For Love’, Rina Sawayama took Kiki Dee’s place on ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers appeared for ‘Tiny Dancer’. Nashville’s Stephen Sanchez even got to sing a song of his own, ‘Until I Found You’.

John drew the curtain on his UK touring career with an extended version of ‘Rocket Man’. “It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve had the best, best time,” said the star, with a lump in his throat.

The show came toward the end of Elton’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour – now officially the highest-grossing tour of all time, with box office receipts of $887m (£697m).

After Glastonbury, there are just seven dates left, with the final show in Stockholm on 8 July.

John’s performance drew the 2023 Glastonbury festival to a close, after high-profile sets from Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey, WizKid, Lizzo, Blondie and Cat Stevens.

Friday’s headliner Arctic Monkeys saw a record performance for a Friday night headline set with a peak audience of 2.6m, while audiences for Saturday’s headliner Guns N’ Roses on BBC Two peaked at 2.1m.

Lewis Capaldi’s and Lizzo’s Pyramid Stage performances on Saturday had a BBC One audience peak 2.4m.

Organiser Emily Eavis has confirmed the event will return next year, with two female headliners already booked.


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Elton John farewell tour gross nears $900m

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour is already the highest-grossing concert tour of all time according to Billboard, and is now approaching another milestone total.

Billboard Boxscore shows the tour has grossed US$887 million (€818m) from 5.7 million ticket sales across 309 shows up to 30 May 2023. The figures include earnings from nine of the 76-year-old’s recent 10 dates at The O2 in London, which generated $25.3m from 148,000 tickets.

With a string of European dates still to come, the tour will have comfortably exceeded $900m in earnings upon its scheduled conclusion at Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena on 8 July. The legendary musician will play the last UK tour date when he tops the bill on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage on Sunday 25 June.

Kicking off in Allentown Pennsylvania in September 2018, Farewell Yellow Brick Road was originally due to wrap up in 2021, encompassing five continents, but was disrupted by the pandemic. Garnering $138.2m in 2023 so far, it sits in second place in Billboard‘s mid-year charts behind Harry Styles’ Love On Tour ($138.6m), trailed by Coldplay ($95.3m), Ed Sheeran ($93.9m) and Daddy Yankee ($72.5m).

Elton’s farewell tour has long since surpassed the previous record holder, Sheeran’s 2017-19 ÷ (Divide) Tour – which grossed $776.2m from 255 concerts – in the revenue stakes and is expected to finish up around $925m. However, the Rocket Man’s stay at the summit could prove short-lived, with Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour tipped to ultimately set a new bar.

“Being able to celebrate a true music legend in a special way was hugely important for all of us at The O2”

The O2 recently presented Elton with a special award to mark his final show of the run at the venue on 30 May, and his last ever tour show in London. Awards were also presented to his touring team, including representatives from Rocket Entertainment, Marshall Arts and AEG Presents.

Across the 10 shows, The O2 was transformed in tribute, with a yellow brick road taking fans from North Greenwich station to The O2‘s main entrance. Inside the venue, a 5m wide pair of Elton’s sunglasses hung from the roof to delight fans on arrival, sustainable paper cups featuring tour artwork were available on the arena concourses, and an additional merchandise store was opened.

“Being able to celebrate a true music legend in a special way was hugely important for all of us at The O2,” says Christian D’Acuña, senior programming director at The O2. “Elton John’s final tour is certainly one for the history books, and we’re truly honoured to have hosted 10 nights of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.

“Being able to transform the venue into a massive tribute to Elton for his show dates, with our very own yellow brick road, created some truly special moments for fans and staff at the venue. A huge thank you to the teams at Rocket Entertainment, Marshall Arts and AEG Presents, and of course to the legend himself, Elton.”

A special report on the record-breaking Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour will be published in the July edition of IQ Magazine.

 


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Elton John to play final UK concert at Glastonbury

Sir Elton John has been confirmed as the first headliner of Glastonbury 2023, for what will be the last UK date of his farewell tour.

The legendary musician will top the bill on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday 25 June 2023, it was announced this morning (2 December).

“There is no more fitting way to say goodbye to my British fans,” says John in a statement announcing the show. “I can’t wait to embrace the spirit of the greatest festival in the world. It’s going to be incredibly emotional.”

Festival organiser Emily Eavis comments: “It gives me enormous pleasure to let you know that the one and only Elton John will be making his first-ever Glastonbury appearance, headlining the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday night next year.

“This will be the final UK show of Elton’s last-ever tour, so we will be closing the festival and marking this huge moment in both of our histories with the mother of all send-offs.”

The star teased the announcement yesterday (1 December), posting an Instagram photo captioned: “One final date to announce… the Rocket Man is incoming.”

“I can’t wait to embrace the spirit of the greatest festival in the world. It’s going to be incredibly emotional”

Around the same time, the BBC’s Glastonbury webcam featured an image of a rocket ship in the sky above the Pyramid stage.

Sir Elton’s Glastonbury performance will come at the end of the UK leg of his 350-date Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which kicks off in Liverpool next March.

After Glastonbury, the 75-year-old only has seven dates left to play in Europe before he retires from touring.

The star recently wrapped up the US leg of the tour with a three-night stand at LA’s Dodger Stadium – where, in 1975, he cemented his icon status with two historic gigs, bedecked in a sequinned Dodgers Baseball uniform. There, he was joined by Brandi Carlile, Kiki Dee and Dua Lipa.

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour had been due to run from September 2018 to 2021, encompassing five continents and over 350 dates but it was disrupted by the pandemic and John’s hip problems. The tour already topped Pollstar’s Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart for 2019 by the time the world paused and is poised to again be a contender in 2022.

While box office reports are still coming in, Pollstar reported in late November that more than 3.6 million tickets were sold for 164 of his shows, grossing more than $511 million.

 


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Roblox enlists Elton John for immersive experience

Elton John has become the latest artist to launch an immersive experience on online gaming platform Roblox.

‘Elton John Presents: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ allows users to follow a yellow brick road through an interactive world inspired by the singer-songwriter’s life and legacy.

The experience includes digital fashion designed by 20 Roblox community creators, photographs, interactive challenges set to his greatest hit songs, daily scavenger hunts and trivia quizzes.

In addition, there will be a series of ten-minute virtual performances made up of Elton’s best-loved songs,  starting on 17 November, with additional performances re-airing hourly through 20 November.

The special performances will coincide with Elton’s run of Dodger Stadium shows (17–20 November), which will see him make history once again as he returns to the iconic LA venue for the first time since his legendary performance in 1975.

Virtual experience visitors are also able to earn and collect yellow bricks, as they explore interactive challenges, allowing them the chance to gain VIP access to hear a dedicated message from Elton and have their avatar appear on stage with him at his final show at Dodger Stadium on 20 November.

After the Dodger Stadium concerts, ‘Elton John: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ will live on – with new experiences, music, fashion and more – as an immersive capsule in the metaverse.

‘Elton John Presents: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ was created by Elton John and Rocket Entertainment with Roblox creators, with support from Universal Music Group.

“Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ is the next step on [my] journey as I prepare to step away from live touring”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be launching ‘Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ on Roblox,” says Elton John. “I’ve seen the joy that Roblox has bought to my boys and the possibility it creates by the ability to interact with fans in such an exciting, and forward-looking way has been mind-blowing to me. I’ve always been myself and used my image, eyewear, and music to express myself, and Roblox really encourages that self-expression.

“Now my fans can do the same, and that’s really exciting. At every step of my career, I’ve always wanted to push forward and look to the future, and ‘Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ is the next step on that journey as I prepare to step away from live touring after 50 years on the road. It’s genuinely thrilling, and I can’t wait to see the response from my fans and the Roblox community.”

David Furnish, CEO of Rocket Entertainment, adds: “Elton is a visionary creative with a life full of major music and fashion moments significant to the culture of then and now and lived his life like an avatar! ‘Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ is an extraordinary collection of some of these moments that we have had a lot of fun recreating with the Roblox community since Rocket Entertainment began this project. As Elton says farewell to touring at Dodger Stadium, we’re excited for the opportunities that spaces like Roblox offer to ensure Elton’s music and legacy may continue to bring joy to the world.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group, comments: “In the decades we’ve worked together, my commitment to Elton has been to build the largest global audience for his creative genius, spanning his recorded music, songwriting, fashion and performances. As Elton wraps up his monumental final tour, we are extremely excited to help bring ‘Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’ to life so that new generations of fans, now and for years to come, will continue to be entertained and inspired by his songs and music.”

Roblox has previously hosted immersive experiences and/or virtual concerts with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Charli XCX, Lizzo, Gayle, Lil Nas X, Twenty One Pilots, 24kGoldn, Royal Blood, David Guetta and Ava Max.

 


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Elton tour on target to be biggest Oz/NZ run ever

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road run is shaping up to become the biggest tour in Australia and New Zealand history after promoters announced a fresh slate of shows.

Staged by Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring and AEG Presents, dates have been added at the 30,000-cap McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle (8 January), the 30,000-cap AAMI Park, Melbourne (14 January) and the 45,000-cap Allianz Stadium in Sydney (17 January).

The Australasia leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020, according to Pollstar. Sir Elton grossed US$87.1m from 38 shows during the mid-year reporting period, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, before touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March 2020.

The all-time list is currently headed by Ed Sheeran’s 2018 Divide tour, which racked up 950,000 ticket sales, and Dire Straits’ 1986 Brothers In Arms tour, which moved 900,000. However, Farewell Yellow Brick Road will go to the top of the list with 980,500 tickets sold if the remaining concerts sell out.

“If we sell every ticket, we will be just shy of a million”

“If we sell every ticket, we will be just shy of a million over all the Farewell YBR shows,” promoter Michael Chugg tells The Music Network.

Comprising well over 300 shows, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour kicked off in the US in September 2018 and it currently scheduled to wrap up in Europe in summer 2023.

Prior to the new shows being announced, the overall sales tally for Australia/New Zealand leg was set to settle on 875,000, putting it in third place in the region historically. Tickets for the latest set of dates went on sale on Monday (1 August).

 


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Elton John forced to postpone already-rescheduled tour

Elton John has been forced to postpone the 2021 UK and European legs of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.

The already-postponed farewell shows, scheduled by international agency Marshall Arts, had been set to take place from the end of this month through to December, with UK dates in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

John, 74, has now confirmed yesterday (16 September) that he has been forced to reschedule his remaining 2021 tour dates to start in April 2023, saying that it is a decision he took “with great sadness and a heavy heart”.

The postponements extend a tour that Elton has said is his final ever.

“At the end of my summer break I fell awkwardly on a hard surface and have been in considerable pain and discomfort in my hip ever since,” John explained in his statement.

“Despite intensive physio and specialist treatment, the pain has continued to get worse and is leading to increasing difficulties moving.

“At the end of my summer break I fell awkwardly on a hard surface and have been in considerable pain and discomfort in my hip”

“I have been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness and make sure there are no long-term complications. I will be undertaking a program of intensive physiotherapy that will ensure a full recovery and a return to full mobility without pain.”

John says he still intends to play his forthcoming charity gig for the Global Citizen event on 25 September “as I don’t want to let a charity down”.

“Being just five songs it’s a very different physical undertaking to the demands of playing for close to three hours every night on tour and travelling overnight between countries,” he said. “After this I will be having the operation to ensure the tour can get back on the road in January 2022 in New Orleans.

“I know how patient my incredible fans have been since Covid halted touring last year, and it breaks my heart to keep you waiting any longer. I completely feel your frustrations after the year we’ve had.

“I promise you this – the shows will return to the road next year and I will make sure they are more than worth the wait.”

The Australasia leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020, according to Pollstar box-office numbers.

John will headline American Express presents BST Hyde Park on Friday 24 June 2022.


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$1bn artists line up global tours as confidence builds

Some of the world’s biggest artists, collectively worth more than US$1 billion in ticket revenue between 2018 and 2020, will hit the road again in 2021 and ’22, as confidence builds for a return to international touring over the next 12 months.

Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Eagles – all of whom ranked among the highest-grossing tours of 2018, 2019 and 2020, grossing more than $1bn between them – have in recent weeks revealed plans for new or rescheduled global tours, many of them starting as soon as this summer.

Sir Elton has extended his disrupted final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, with a bumper 30-date, six-month stadium run across across mainland Europe, the UK and the United States.

“Hello, all you wonderful fans out there. I’m coming to you today with an announcement I’ve been working towards for, well, all my life: the shows that I announce today will be my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe,” he says in a statement.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best, with the most spectacular production I’ve ever had, playing in places that have meant so much to me throughout my career.

“Whether it’s next summer in Frankfurt or at the legendary Dodger Stadium for the grand finale in the United States, I can’t wait to see you all on the road one last time. This has been an incredible tour so far, full of the most amazing highs, and I look forward to making more wonderful memories with you at these final shows.”

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton’s farewell tour, was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic last March, with the last show on 7 March 2020 at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Australia. The tour resumes on 1 September at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and will conclude in Australasia in 2023.

The tour, produced and promoted by AEG Presents, grossed $212 million in 2019 and $71.2m in 2020.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best”

Springsteen, who grossed an incredible $88.3m from his Springsteen on Broadway shows, which had an average ticket price of $509, in 2018, also has live plans for 2022.

As well as reviving Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen confirmed to E Street Radio on SiriusXM he is planning a full tour with his E Street Band in 2022. “I knew we were going to tour with the band next year,” he said, “[but] I had a friend who got so enthusiastic about it [Springsteen on Broadway] that he talked me into it sitting on my couch one night. The next day I said, ‘OK, we’ll do some shows.’ It really came around kind of casually.”

Eagles, meanwhile recently added another six dates to their long-delayed Hotel California tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York in August.

While the band has only announced the rescheduled US dates so far (the first leg ends at Chase Center in San Francisco on 23 October 2021), pre-pandemic the Live Nation-promoted tour included included dates in London (Wembley Stadium) and Los Cabos, Mexico (Cabo en Vivo), so it is expected that additional European and Latin American shows are still to be announced.

Eagles grossed $166m from their 2018 North American tour.

Metal titans Metallica earlier this month announced six European festival shows for 2022, adding to the open-air shows pencilled in for the US in September, October and November 2021.

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there”

Under the banner The Return of the European Summer Vacation, the band will play headline shows at Denmark’s Copenhell, the Netherlands’ Pinkpop, Italy’s Firenze Rocks, the Czech Republic’s Prague Rocks, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Spain’s Mad Cool and Portugal’s NOS Alive. .

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there and are finally announcing our return to Europe in 2022,” say Metallica in a statement. “Needless to say, we cannot wait to see all of you once again as our European ’tallica Family will finally have a chance to reunite in June and July of next year.”

The festivals next year will be Metallica’s first European shows since their Worldwired global tour, which grossed a total of $179m in 2019.

Elsewhere, Bublé (who grossed $115.8m in 2019 and $24.8m in 2020) is resuming his An Evening With Michael Bublé tour in North America in August, while Dion’s (2020 gross: $71.2m) postponed Courage world tour will finally kick off the same month in Winnipeg.

Also resuming a postponed tour this summer are Guns’ N Roses, whose world stadium tour – newly rechristened We’re F’n’ Back! – will begin at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 2021. The tour will include Australasian dates later this year and a string of European stadium shows next summer.

Opening the tour will be the late Eddie Van Halen’s bassist, son Wolfgang, with his band Mammoth WVH.

 


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Elton John records biggest tour in Covid-hit H1 2020

With gross earnings of nearly US$90 million, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020 according to the latest Pollstar box-office numbers.

The site’s mid-year Top 100 Worldwide Tours shows Sir Elton had grossed $87.1m from 38 shows, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, when concert touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March. (The ‘mid-year’ reporting period runs from 21 November 2019 to 20 May 2020, though the final show of John’s only 2020 touring period, at Western Sydney Stadium in Australia, took place months before, on 7 March.)

Sir Elton’s AEG-promoted success down under outshone his nearest competition to the tune of $16m, Celine Dion placing second with Courage world tour, which played arenas in North America from September to March. Another AEG tour, Courage grossed $71.2m from 33 shows, with 408,407 tickets sold.

Third and fourth, and the only other artists grossing more than $50m, were Trans-Siberian Orchestra and U2, respectively, while fifth-placed Post Malone recorded $38.8m from 22 dates.

Live Nation, unsurprisingly, retains its crown as the number-one promoter; Madrid’s WizInk Center is a new entry for top arena, having sold 30,000 more tickets than second-placed Madison Square Garden.

 


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