As the sun began to set on Chicago’s Soldier Field, the positive vibe was palpable as more than 70,000 fans — most of them clutching American Beauty roses — settled in for arguably the most highly-anticipated shows of 2015: the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well 50th anniversary concerts.
As ever, the fortunes of the concert industry are driven by who is touring, and the business fielded some of its biggest stars in 2015. Pop sensations One Direction put the caps on one of the biggest two-year runs in history, Taylor Swift (arguably the biggest star on the planet) topped even 1D in 2015, and box office titans including U2, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Kenny Chesney, AC/DC, and Madonna were all on the road this year. Billy Joel’s sold-out run as a “franchise” act at New York’s Madison Square Garden easily would have been the No. 1 Boxscore of 2015 in a “normal” year, taking in $26.3 million from 12 performances within the time frame Boxscore tracked. Swift, whose 1989 tour was the highest-grossing trek of 2015, has seven entries among the Top 25 Boxscores, more than any act.