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Banner Year for U2 in Troubled 2001

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The year-end tallies in the world of entertainment continue to be revealed, and as far as the concert business was concerned, U2 had the second biggest tour ever — generating $109.7 million in estimated ticket sales, second only to the Rolling Stones’s gross of $121.2 million in 1994. Otherwise, according to Pollstar magazine, 2001 was an off year for many other groups and solo acts. While the top 100 concert tours sold some 34.4 million tickets over the past 12 months, the figures are actually down about 7 percent from the 37.1 million tickets sold in 2000. Yet the Irish band fronted by Bono managed to sell out American venues nationwide with a back-to-basics show. So happy were the fans to see U2, in fact, that the band needed to add dates after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (which subsequently curtailed some concert activity, particularly among such American performers in Europe as Janet Jackson). The boy bands ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys came in as second and third on the list of top earners, though, noted one industry observer to Pollstar, only nine of 44 ‘N Sync dates sold out. Opera singer Andrea Bocelli commanded the highest average ticket price this year, $161.45, while the ’80s heavy metal act Poison had the lowest, $16.32. “The public is clearly willing to pay an average of $100 to see Elton John and Billy Joel together,” Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni told the Associated Press. “The real problem is all the other acts who also think they can command the same lofty prices.”