PLAY IT AGAIN, CHRIS: Chatter in the live sector this week concerns reports that year-over-year box office for the top 100 tours between November 2023 and February 2024 is up 35%. Top earners included Coldplay's potentially $1b-grossing Music of the Spheres World Tour, U2 at Sphere in Las Vegas, the resurgent Madonna, Latin mainstay Luis Miguel and K-pop outfit SEVENTEEN. The one constant for Coldplay over the past couple of years has been touring. The band split from longtime manager Dave Holmes last year and is now managed by team members Phil Harvey, Mandi Frost and Arlene Moon; booking is by Wasserman Music’s Marty Diamond in the U.S. and handled internationally by Josh Javor, who left X-Ray Touring and joined WME as partner and co-head of the company’s London music department in August 2023.

Anna-Sophie Mertens, Seth England, Jim King

WHISKEY IN THE U.K.: Country music’s growth in popularity in the U.K. over the last few years is simply astonishing, but it's not being led by pop-leaning superstars such as Keith Urban or Shania Twain. Rather, the invasion's figureheads are U.S. phenoms Morgan Wallen and Chris Stapleton, who have major shows on tap across the continent this year. On the heels of selling out London's O2 in December, Wallen will perform on—what else?—the Fourth of July at British Summer Time in Hyde Park, in what is being billed as Blighty’s biggest-ever country concert. AEG’s Jim King is dropping a few extra sugars in his Darjeeling, because the company’s Live Nation co-promotion with Wallen sold more than 40k tickets on day one, making it by far the hottest engagement of the parks season. Wallen, who is managed by Big Loud’s Seth England, is booked by The Neal Agency's Austin Neal. The Kentucky-born Stapleton’s remarkable global box-office power is underscored by five sold-out U.K. and Ireland arena dates, which went clean more than seven months out. The Live Nation-promoted run spearheaded by Anna-Sophie Mertens begins 10/16 at Manchester’s AO Arena and will include plays in Glasgow, Dublin and Birmingham before wrapping on 10/23 at the O2. The seeds of this country flavor were planted long ago, as many of Stapleton’s influences are the same as those of British greats The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Animals. Just as those groups mastered their craft by playing live, Stapleton—who is looked after by Red Light’s Coran Capshaw and Zach Peters—has done the same by building a solid fan base that grows with each return visit. Before he heads to Europe, Stapleton will play a mix of amphitheaters, arenas and stadiums in the States. Upon his return from the U.K., Stapleton, who is repped by Kevin Meads and Jay Williams at WME, will join country great George Strait, who’s managed by Erv Woolsey Company and repped by Wasserman Music, for a 12/7 blowout at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Josh Javor, Austin Neal, Rick Sales

SHOW ME THE MONEY: How much would it take for you to perform again with that former best friend and egomaniacal-yet-insecure lead singer who slept with your girlfriend? Or the jealous, less-talented younger brother who just can’t keep his mouth shut? Is there enough money to make you forget all that contaminated water that freely flowed under the proverbial bridge? Well, for Rick Sales-managed thrash-metal innovators Slayer (K2 Agency), three shows at about $3m each seems to have been the magic number. The band, which hasn’t performed since November 2019, will headline Louder Than Life (DWP) in Louisville and Riot Fest (Mike Petryshyn) in Chicago in September, as well as Aftershock (Danny Wimmer Presents) in Sacramento in October. For the original Misfits, repped by CAA, it was a cool $2.5m or so from Paul Tollett and Goldenvoice to headline the inaugural No Values punk-rock fest on 6/8 in Pomona. Meanwhile, Velvet Hammer’s System of a Down (WME), the members of which haven’t agreed on a musical direction since around 2006, will pocket between $4-$5m again this year as headliners of Live Nation’s Jeff Shuman-curated Sick New World festival on 4/27 in Vegas. These paydays are greater than anything these acts made during their heydays, with insiders pointing to a lack of “tried and true” headliners in the current market that can draw—and the emergence of mega-festivals like Sick New World and When We Were Young—for the skyrocketing guarantees. To wit, Gwen Stefani has 10 million reasons to reteam with her band, No Doubt, for two shows at Coachella (4/13, 4/20) next month. Other notable acts that have reunited for tours or performances this year include The Black Crowes (CAA), blink-182 (CAA), My Chemical Romance (CAA), Creed (UTA) and New Kids on the Block (CAA). It seems more difficult to turn down the F.U. money when you’re in your late ’50s or older and might not even remember why you broke up to begin with. Unless, of course, your name is Morrissey, Marr or Gallagher.

Jay Williams, Mandi Frost, Kevin Meads