U2 lose the top spot for most popular live act

Industry statistics on ticket sales also put the 3Arena in the world’s top 15 venues

U2’s return to “intimate” arena shows has affected their moniker as the world’s biggest band.

A new industry report ranks them as the sixth most popular act, losing out to One Direction, who claimed the top spot by playing to 2,364,390 fans in 2015.

Also ranking above Bono and co were live heavyweights Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Foo Fighters, and US country singer Kenny Chesney.

Opting to play arena shows for the first time in a decade, U2 drew a total audience of 1,286,416 on their Innocence + Experience tour according to an annual report by industry body Pollstar. This is a fall from their 360 tour, which ended in 2011 with Bono and co on the number-one slot. But their financials fared better: they were the fourth highest-grossing act with their tour earning $152.2m (€140.7m).


Across the globe, the live industry grew by 16 percent last year; in Ireland, the figure was 6.5 per cent. Between the two major promoters MCD and Aiken (who impressively jumped from the 65 to 35 in the rankings of global promoters), 1,834,065 tickets were sold in 2015 compared to 1,722,956 in 2014.

At the 3Arena, ticket sales are up 26 per cent. In 2015 the Dublin venue hosted a total of 591,423 concert-goers. The news will be a relief to 3Arena’s owners Live Nation after 2014 saw audience figures of 470,875, its lowest since the refurbished, 13-500 capacity arena was re-opened in 2009 when it attracted almost double the amount (927,154).

These figures make it the 15th most popular arena in the world, behind Arena Ciudad De Mexico in Mexico City, Madison Square Gardens in New York and The O2 in London, which was the world’s most visited arena with 1,819,478 sales.

Belfast’s SSE Arena also fared well with 474,616 ticket sales, a rise of 37 per cent. Live at the Marquee’s home at the Docklands in Cork came 55th with sales of 96,317 thanks to shows by Ellie Goulding, Beck and The Coronas. But concert attendance at other main venues including Croke Park, Marlay Park and The Olympia either stayed static or fell. Shilpa Ganatra