As this issue was going to press, Madonna had just announced dates for her upcoming “Madame X” Tour in support of her upcoming 14th studio album of the same name. And, as luck would have it, Arthur Fogel, the man overseeing Madge’s tours for the past 18 years, also happens to be Live Nation’s esteemed president of global touring and chairman of global music (and an Impact 50 honoree, click here). Here, he breaks down what to expect for the global superstar’s first jaunt since 2015’s Rebel Heart Tour and her serious underplays.
How many tours have you done with Madonna?
This will be my sixth. I started with her in 2001. Prior to that, she had toured, I think twice in 15 years? So, this is the sixth in whatever 18 years. She’s Madonna, right? This particular tour is a bit of a twist because she’s going to play multiple nights in smaller venues. It is not an arena tour or stadium tour.
What kinds of places will she play?
For instance, in New York, we’re playing Brooklyn Academy of Music. Basically, we’re going to do eight or nine cities over the course of the tour. Really, it comes from this album, it’s just a different kind of vibe. It lends itself more to intimacy. As we talked about it, it seemed to make sense to go this route rather than into bigger buildings. That’s what we’re going to do.
Is she doing multiple nights at each spot?
Yes. We’re playing three cities in Europe – London, Paris, and Lisbon. That’s it over there, and here, we’re doing LA [The Wiltern], New York [BAM], Chicago [The Chicago Theater], Miami [Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre], Vegas [Caesars Palace], Boston [the Boch Center Wang Theatre], Philly [The Met Philadelphia]. Multiple nights in each of those cities.
If she’s doing BAM I’m guessing it’s going to be fairly theatrical?
Listen, Madonna’s shows always have that dimension to them, but I would say it’s much more about the musical tone and vibe than it is pure theatrics. Maybe you’ve heard the first single? It’s definitely sort of Spanish influenced, world music-y, as much as a pop record.
Madonna doing BAM and the Wiltern and all these smaller theaters sounds like another innovative approach and iteration of the business. I would never have expected to see Madonna play those places in a million years.
I think it’s important, over a touring career, to change things up. It’s a part of what excites fans, keeps artists energized. I mean if you go out and do the same thing every tour, eventually that catches up to you. I think it’s great when people change it up, do different things, certainly, as it relates to creating music. There used to be a lot more tolerance for people changing things up and trying different things. I think doing that live is really important to longevity as well.
What do you do as her promoter now when you’ve announced the tour? What does that mean for your year ahead?
I would say most of the heavy lifting is done. We’ve been working on it for several months. Obviously, putting together the routing and the venues and putting all the pieces together on the marketing side, and the onsale. With Madonna, U2, my longtime clients, Gaga, I’m also the producer, so there’s both sides of the equation, right? There’s this kind of traditional promoter side, but there’s also the producer, production side. So, there’s a lot of pieces to put together, which we’ve been doing over the last several months. By the time this is announced, things will be in place. We’ll go on sale, and then it’s just sort of waiting to start in September.