Hoffman's Houston
elton, by the numbers

Ken Hoffman crunches the numbers on Elton John's big upcoming Houston show

Hoffman crunches the numbers on Elton John's big upcoming Houston show

Elton John - Houston Toyota Center - Farewell Yellow Brick
Elton John = big business. Photo by Jacob Power

As we reported last week, tickets for Elton John’s final concert ever in Houston, November 4, 2022 at Minute Maid Park, will go on sale to the general public at 10 am Wednesday, June 30 at the usual Ticketmaster locations.

Get ‘em while you can. There have been several pre-sales for groups like the Rocket Fan Club and American Express cardholders. Tickets already are available on the secondary market for as much as $4,300 for floor seats.

Capitalism, don't you love it?

John promises that his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” shows will be the end of his touring career. He wants to spend more time at home raising his children. But as Charles Dickens wrote in the Pickwick Papers (one of my favorite Cliff’s Notes), never say never.

Or was it Justin Bieber who said never say never? I get those confused.

When 'farewell' is 'hi again'
Didn't Motley Crue have its farewell in 2015? Well, they'll be back in Houston on August 19, 2022 with Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett. The Who had their first (of many) farewell tours in 1982.

KISS has been saying goodbye to performing since 2000. Ozzy Osbourne actually called his 1992 concerts the “No More Tours” tour.  Judas Priest went on their “Epitaph World Tour” in 2012. And the Judds seemingly have retired every year since even before they started.

So, how much for Elton?
Elton John’s concert at Minute Maid Park was announced last week with several other U.S. dates. John has two previously scheduled Houston shows, January 20-21, 2022 at Toyota Center. Scattered tickets for the Toyota Center shows are available at toyotacenter.com. (Remember, Toyota Center doesn’t use Ticketmaster.) Tickets for the Toyota Center concerts originally were priced at $69 to $249, plus those beloved service fees.

Now, you can expect much higher prices on the Toyota Center site, up to $1,200 each for floor seats. Secondary market sites, like Vivid Seats, SeatGeek, and StubHub have down-close, Rows 1-3 seats going for stratospheric prices, $5,000 and higher. 

Good lower bowl and upper level seats are available between $200 and $600. Nosebleeds can be had for around $130-150.

If you’re willing to pay more than face value, there are thousands of tickets all over the Internet.

When it’s Elton John, like Austin real estate, it’s a seller’s market.

Elton's first farewell
Elton John’s farewell tour began in September 2018. He last played Houston December 2018 (read the CultureMap review here). His tour paused in April 2020 due to COVID-19, will pick up in September this year and finish in early 2023.

That’s a long goodbye that would make detective novelist Raymond Chandler impatient.

John already has performed 179 concerts on this tour totaling $360 million in ticket sales. He has 139 concerts to go, many of them mega-stadium shows. By the time he wraps up in New Zealand on January 28, 2023, he may hold the record for richest rock concert tour ever. 

The current title holder for a single tour is Ed Sheeran, who sold $776 million worth of tickets over 255 shows between 2017-2019.

Second place belongs to U2, banking $736 million in tickets between 2009-2011. Guns N’ Roses is next, with $584 million in ticket sales between 2016-2019. The highest-grossing tour by a female artist belongs to Madonna, with $411 million in tickets between 2008-09.

Those seat receipts don’t include service charges, jacked-up prices on the secondary market, parking fees and souvenir sales.

Then there’s this: Elton John may sell $5 million worth of tickets this week to a Houston concert that is 17 months in the future. And that's just one concert. Somebody is holding onto all that money and making a fortune in interest.

Next best thing to being Elton John? Elton John’s accountant.

Elton vs. Magellan: Whose tour wins?
Let’s compare Elton John’s jaunt around the globe to the most famous worldwide tour in history: Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of Earth between September 20, 1519 and September 6, 1521.

Elton John’s tour will take four years, interrupted by COVID-19. Magellan’s voyage took only two years, despite an outbreak of scurvy.

Unfortunately, the vaccine for scurvy wasn't discovered until 1747, too late to help Magellan and his crew. Magellan started out with 243 men, only 35 returned home to Spain. Magellan himself was murdered during the voyage and didn’t cross the finish line. John presumably will make it back to England in one piece.

John’s tour will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales. Magellan’s voyage was sponsored by King Charles I of Spain and actually lost money.

Preparations for five boats (only one completed the journey) and sailors’ salaries cost the king around 6.4 million worth of gold coins called maravedis. There’s no current exchange rate between marivedis and U.S. dollars because maravedis don't exist anymore. Back in the early 1500s, the king could have bought 4,000 live cows with his 6.4 million marivedis.

Today, a live slaughter cow with an average weight of 1,200 pounds runs about $600.

That's cheaper than I thought, but don't even think about it. If you can’t have a wild tiger in Houston, what are the chances you can keep Elsie in your backyard?