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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Big names boost US concerts
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton was a hit on the road with Billy Joel
Stars like Sir Elton John, the Dixie Chicks and the Rolling Stones have pulled the US live music circuit out of a three-year slump, according to industry figures.

Ticket sales have risen 24% in the first half of the year - thanks to the popularity of big name tours, industry magazine Pollstar reported.

A joint tour by Sir Elton and Billy Joel was the most successful outing between January and June, with ticket receipts of $52.7m (32.3m), Pollstar said.

A total of 13.1 million tickets were sold for the country's top 50 tours in the first six months - up from 10.6 million in 2002.

Sales had been in decline since a total of 12.9 million tickets were sold in the same period in 2000.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in Austin, Texas
The Dixie Chicks were one of the few acts that seemed to do great business... everywhere they went
Gary Bongiovanni
The Rolling Stones - with ticket prices averaging $158 (97) - plus Fleetwood Mac and Cher were in the top 10.

Country acts Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw also did well, while the Dixie Chicks appeared near the top of the list despite a backlash over the singer's comments about President Bush.

"The Dixie Chicks were one of the few acts that seemed to do great business just about everywhere they went," Pollstar's editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni said.

Mr Bongiovanni said the expensive tickets for big-name tours were being bought by "ageing baby boomers".

"We're back up to kind of where we were in 2000. We had progressively been selling fewer tickets as the prices escalated."

The increase in ticket sales is one ray of light for a music industry suffering from declining CD sales.

But Mr Bongiovanni said some outdoor tours could suffer from a cold and wet start to the summer.

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