Today’s Wall Street Journal examines the concert industry’s newfound love of reunion tours: With the number of reliable, big-ticket headliners dwindling, reformed acts stand to make a small fortune on the road (Van Halen, for example, is projected to generate sales of $34 million, which could make Woflgang the richest 15-year-old not overseeing a Middle Eastern emirate).
In 2005, a reunion tour by ’80s metal band Motley Crue took the industry by surprise and became the No. 11 grossing tour of the year, taking in close to $40 million in 22 cities, according Pollstar, which tracks concert-industry data. A three-night stand by the blues rock band Cream at Madison Square Garden was the fourth-highest-grossing show the same year, taking in $10.6 million; it also helped to further propel the reunion phenomenon. A spokeswoman for Cream frontman Eric Clapton says the trio has no plans for further concert or recording activity…
The Pixies tour, which continued through 2005, is an object lesson in the lucrative economics of reunions. The Pixies tour grossed an average $180,000 a show, according Pollstar. The band played bigger venues, to bigger audiences, than it ever did during its original career as influential alternative-rock pioneers in the late 1980s. By contrast, in the same period a solo tour by Pixies leader Frank Black took in just an average of $8,800 a show.
The story also notes that the Rage Against the Machine reunion has helped Coachella sell 100,000 tickets so far–triple the amount that had been sold at the same time last year. Considering that Morrissey once claimed to have turned down a $5 million Coachella cash-in for a Smiths reunion, we’re guessing Rage’s tab is in the low seven-digit figures–although Zach de la Rocha now insists on being paid with a pocket full of shells.