Band smash world's biggest tour record with 20 gigs to spare
U2 have set a new record for the highest ever grossing tour with each of the band members and their manager set for a record payout of almost €100m each.
The 360 Tour has surpassed the $558m (€386m) earned by the Rolling Stones on their Bigger Bang tour in 2007.
However, with 20 more gigs to go, by the time it ends on July 30, U2 are expected to have grossed $700m (€500m) from seven million ticket sales worldwide -- also a new record.
U2 manager Paul McGuinness said he and the band were very proud of setting the "biggest tour ever" record.
"That dollar figure for the gross looks enormous," he said. "Of course I can't tell you what the net is, but I can tell you that the band spend enormous sums on production for their audience."
"To set the record with a further 20-plus shows to go on the tour is kind of mind-blowing," he said.
The group's 'fifth member' said touring had been something U2 had always taken very seriously, alongside their recording output.
"We were always very conscious that we had two parallel careers, as recording artists and as live performers, and each was absolutely vitally important.
"In our own kind of quiet way we were all somewhat military about it. We would talk about territories and conquering them, and if there was somewhere that was slower to come along, we would go back there and work it again.
"Bono is kind of a closet General Patton. So, for us, this is a real victory," he added.
Beginning in Barcelona in Spain on June 30, 2009, the tour included dates throughout Europe in July and August of that year and North America in September and October.
They ended that year's touring with a free concert at the Brandenburg Gate, marking 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
However, the tour was temporarily halted in May 2010 when Bono was seriously hurt during rehearsals in Germany.
The singer sustained severe compression of the sciatic nerve with a ligament tear and a herniated disc, and had to undergo emergency surgery.
His injury put U2 out of action for two months, forcing them to cancel summer dates in North America and at the Glastonbury Festival.
However, by August 2010, U2 were back in action, touring Europe again until October, moving onto Australia and New Zealand in November/December 2010.
The band has played to an average of 63,000 people on each of the 360 shows, taking $6.4m (€4.4m) for every show.
Designed by Willie Williams, who has worked with U2 for all their tours from Pop Mart to Vertigo, the 360 Tour is named after the 360-degree structure on which U2 perform, nicknamed 'The Claw', which allows fans an unobstructed view of the band from any seat in the arena.
It takes 100 permanent touring personnel, and an extra 200-300 local personnel to put the U2 show on each night.
The final date of the 360 Tour is on July 30 at the Magnetic Music Hill Musical Festival in Moncton, Canada.
But before that they will headline the Friday night of this year's Glastonbury music festival on June 24.
Despite their 35 years together, it will be the band's debut performance at the UK's biggest summer festival which is held at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset each year.
U2 will not be using their 360 Claw stage at Glastonbury, with reports saying the group have had to redesign their stage show for their appearance at the iconic festival.
The estimated combined audience of seven million for the 360 Tour beats U2's own record of 4,619,021 for their Vertigo tour in 2005.
THE BIG TOURS
1 -- U2, 360 Degree Tour (2009-11). Gross to date: €386m; expected to hit €500m. Attendance: seven million.
2 -- The Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang Tour! (2005-07). Gross: €386m. Attendance: 4.6 million.
3 -- AC/DC, Black Ice Tour (2008-10). Gross: €305m. Attendance: 4.8 million.
4 -- Madonna, Sticky & Sweet Tour (2008-09). Gross: €282m. Attendance: 3.5 million.
5 -- U2, Vertigo Tour (2005-06). Gross: €269m. Attendance: 4.6 million.
6 -- The Police, The Police Reunion Tour (2007-08). Gross: €248m. Attendance: 3.3 million.
7. -- The Rolling Stones, Bridges To Babylon Tour / No Security Tour (1997-99). Gross: €233m. Attendance: 5.5 million.
8 -- The Rolling Stones, Voodoo Lounge Tour (1994-95). Gross: €219m. Attendance: 6.3 million.
9 -- The Rolling Stones, Licks Tour! (2002-03). Gross: €207m. Attendance: 3.4 million.
10 -- Celine Dion, Celine Dion Taking Chances Tour (2008-09). Gross: €193m Attendance: three million.