Bon Jovi was the top grossing touring draw for the first six months of 2008, generating $56.3 million from 39 shows, according to concert tracker Pollstar.

Fellow New Jersey rockers Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band came in second at $40.8 million for 29 shows, followed by Van Halen at $36.8 million for 35 shows.

All three tours started in 2007, and feature veteran performers who are still able draw fans, much like The Police, Pollstar’s top touring act of 2007.

“The concert industry did far better in the first ha lf of 2008 than it should have,” Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni noted in the report. “Despite the worsening economic climate, whatever it is that triggers the off-switch on consumer spending for tickets doesn’t appear to have happened yet.”

Country superstar Kenny Chesney came in fourth, generating $35.3 million for 21 shows, followed closely by crooner Michael Bubl√© with $32.5 million for 60 shows. Kanye West was sixth with $31.6 million for 44 shows, followed by the Jay-Z/Mary J. Blige tour at $30.7 million for 24 shows; Rascal Flatts ($25.4 million–31 shows); Spice Girls ($23.3 million–18 shows); and The Police $23.3 million for only 18 shows. When it finishes up later this year, The Police reunion tour will likely top $350 million in total ticket sales.

Hot teen tours Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers placed 17 and 26, respectively, with Cyrus generating gross ticket sales of $17.1 million for 21 shows, while the Jonas Brothers generated $12.6 million for 42 shows. But, look for the Jonas Brothers to climb the list by year’s end because the trio is launching a big summer tour.

Pollstar reports that the combined gross from the top 100 tours during the first six months totaled $1.05 billion, which was the same as last year. Of course, most of these tour dates occurred before the recent spike in gas prices, which may play a factor in future ticket sales.

Once again, attendance dropped off while ticket prices rose. A 5.6 percent drop in overall ticket sales, or about 1 million fewer than last year, was offset by an increase in average ticket prices of about 5.9 percent to $62.07. “The industry’s continuing trend of growth based on selling fewer but more expensive tickets is not a sustainable path for a business that should be constantly adding new customers,” Bongiovanni added.

“The conventional wisdom used to be that the concert business is recession proof,” he said. “That may have been true when tickets cost $10 or $15, but when we’re talking three-digit ticket prices, when money’s tight, that’s going to have some impact. Now, maybe some people are skipping more exotic vacation options and they’re staying closer to home, in which case it may seem a fair trade-off for them to spend money going to a concert.”

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