Bieber ex­plains tour de­ci­sion

Mu­si­cians re­flect on sur­viv­ing gru­elling sched­ules

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment - BY DAVID FRIEND

Justin Bieber is fi­nally offering fans an ex­pla­na­tion for back­ing out of his Pur­pose World Tour, and while he’s not sure many will un­der­stand his de­ci­sion, some fel­low road-weary per­form­ers say they can re­late.

The Strat­ford, Ont.-raised pop star posted a lengthy In­sta­gram mes­sage on Wed­nes­day de­tail­ing why he abruptly ex­ited his tour last week, leav­ing tick­ethold­ers chas­ing re­funds.

“I’ve learned the more you ap­pre­ci­ate your calling the more you want to pro­tect your calling,’’ he wrote.

“I want my ca­reer to be sus­tain­able, but I also want my mind, heart and soul to be sus­tain­able. So that I can be the man I want to be, the hus­band I even­tu­ally want to be and the fa­ther I want to be.’’

While jet-set­ting around the world and stay­ing in five-star ho­tels might seem like a nice life­style to out­siders, coun­try singer Keith Ur­ban says he can sym­pa­thize with Bieber. He says life on the global tour cir­cuit is a con­stant strug­gle of “try­ing to keep a bal­ance’’ be­tween meet­ing the expectations of fans and stay­ing healthy.

“Peo­ple keep adding into artists’ sched­ules more and more,’’ says the Grammy-win­ning mu­si­cian, who has fre­quently toured for more than 15 years.

“At some point you have to say, ‘I’m just a hu­man be­ing, I can’t do all of th­ese things and de­liver a great show.’’’

Bieber aban­doned his tour with only 14 shows left on the sched­ule — in­clud­ing two at Toronto’s Air Canada Cen­tre — and orig­i­nally of­fered lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion.

The “Love Your­self’’ singer had played 153 con­cert dates since the tour launched in early 2016. It was an as­tro­nom­i­cal amount by any mea­sure, with only a few month-long breaks in­ter­spersed be­tween the marathon runs across six con­ti­nents.

Few other artists em­bark on such a gru­elling sched­ule. Su­per­stars like Ri­hanna, Drake and the Weeknd book their own world tours with far fewer dates.

Singer-song­writer John Mayer came to Bieber’s de­fence, tweet­ing: “when some­one pulls re­main­ing dates of a tour, it means they would have done real dam­age to them­selves if they kept go­ing. We’ve lost so many great artists lately. I give Justin (thumbs up) for re­al­iz­ing it was time to call it. You should too.’’

How some pop stars man­age to pull off mas­sive tours is a won­der to Ur­ban, who notes that each show comes with its own set of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the dig­i­tal age.

For ex­am­ple, he says what used to be a sim­ple “meet and greet’’ with a small group of fans be­fore a con­cert has bal­looned in size as corporate spon­sors jump on board and in­crease their de­mands.

In some in­stances, that can in­clude line­ups of con­test win­ners,

the fam­i­lies of the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tives and others who some­how landed on the guest list.

And mu­si­cians are of­ten ex­pected to pose for self­ies with each fan that’s pur­chased a VIP ticket pack­age, which are sold by artists and record la­bels look­ing for new rev­enue streams. Bieber scrapped his meet and greets in early 2016, say­ing they made him “drained and un­happy.’’

Then there’s press interviews, the sound check and even­tu­ally the ac­tual per­for­mance.

Once the day is over, it starts all over again in a dif­fer­ent city or coun­try — of­ten a dif­fer­ent time zone.

Van­cou­ver rock­ers Brian King and David Prowse of Ja­pan­droids say their gru­elling 230-date tour for their al­bum “Cel­e­bra­tion Rock’’ nearly de­stroyed their friend­ship, even though they were the ones who kept agree­ing to more shows.

“For a long time the band had this men­tal­ity that we’ve got to

seize all th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause we don’t know how long it’ll last,’’ Prowse said in an interview ear­lier this year.

“We just had a re­ally hard time say­ing no.’’

But as the duo crossed through South Amer­ica, Europe and Asia, they started to feel ex­haus­tion and de­pres­sion set­ting in.

“We just didn’t have any time to re­cover,’’ Prowse said. “It’s pretty easy to feel a bit dark when you’re tour­ing that long.’’

Billy Tal­ent gui­tarist Ian D’Sa says the Toronto-based band learned from ex­pe­ri­ence that ex­ten­sive tours can be dam­ag­ing.

They used to play months of tour dates at a time, but now pledge to keep each leg of con­certs lim­ited to about a month.

The gui­tarist likens the monotony of tour life to the movie “Ground­hog Day,’’ in which Bill Mur­ray is caught in a day that re­peats over and over.

“I’ve seen other bands im­plode be­cause of the tour­ing sched­ule,’’ D’Sa says.


In this Novem­ber 2015 file photo, Justin Bieber ar­rives at the Cannes fes­ti­val palace in Cannes, south­east­ern France. He didn’t specif­i­cally say sorry, but Bieber has fi­nally given his fans an ex­pla­na­tion of why he de­cided to sud­denly back out of his Pur­pose World Tour.

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