Boomers and oldies dominate concerts

Rolling Stones, Streisand, country acts and a circus were the year's leading tours

January 02, 2007|By Richard Cromelin | Richard Cromelin,Los Angeles Times

The 2006 concert landscape looked a bit like a pop music rest home, shaped for the most part by artists who have been at it for three decades and more, according to the 2006 North America tour rankings released by the trade magazine Pollstar. The Rolling Stones and Barbra Streisand topped the list, and the Top 20 was littered with old-timers, including Elton John, Billy Joel, the Who, Def Leppard, Journey and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

And the biggest thing on the 2007 horizon? A reunion of Genesis, featuring Phil Collins.

It's been that way for years, as baby boomers, the demographic with the dollars, direct their concert bucks to the acts they grew up with. But despite the continuing dominance of the veterans, the 2006 results reflect some new currents in the live entertainment arena, including a trend-bucking contingent of country acts, a groundswell of television-generated attractions and a traveling circus.

Country acts have traditionally been a strong concert draw, and four country tours (five, if you still consider the No. 25 Dixie Chicks a country act) registered in the Top 25: Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (No. 3, with a gross of $88.8 million), Kenny Chesney (No. 7, $66 million), Rascal Flatts (No. 12, $43.6 million) and Toby Keith (No. 16, $38 million).

A conspicuous interloper among the Celines and Bon Jovis of the Top 10 was the No. 5 entry, Cirque du Soleil's theatrical extravaganza Delirium, which grossed $82.1 million.

That success, as well as the rise of the American Idol concert tour (No. 19, $35 million), suggests a future for theatrical hybrids and music-television synergy.

"I think you're going to see more of that kind of stuff," said Pollstar Editor in Chief Gary Bongiovanni. "So You Think You Can Dance, the TV shows that have translated into live attractions. ... High School Musical is huge, there will probably be a Hannah Montana tour next year, and never underestimate the Cheetah Girls. There's a whole crop of acts that are born on TV and then emerge in the live market."

Those shows might bring more teenagers and preteens into the arenas, but they'll have a way to go before they can challenge the likes of the Stones, whose "A Bigger Bang" tour topped the list for the second straight year, with receipts of $138.5 million.

The rest of the Top 10: Streisand (No. 2, $92.5 million), McGraw and Hill, Madonna (No. 4, $85.9 million), "Delirium," Celine Dion (No. 6, $78.1 million), Chesney, Bon Jovi (No. 8, $59.7 million), the Dave Matthews Band (No. 9, $51.3 million) and Elton John (No. 10, $48.9 million).

It all added up to another growth year in the concert business, whose total revenue in North America increased 16 percent over 2005, to $3.6 billion. The number of tickets sold for the Top 100 tours was 37.9 million, an increase of 4.4 percent, and the average ticket price rose 8 percent, to $61.45

Richard Cromelin writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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