Lady Gaga Goes Mainstream

Q&A: Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel On Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Performance, Joanne Tour

  • by Ray Waddell
  • Published: February 14, 2017

Lady Gaga performs during the Super Bowl Halftime Show at NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5. (Photo Credit: SMG/NRG Park)

Living up to his status as “King of the Megatour,” Arthur Fogel, president of Live Nation’s Global Touring division and Chairman, Live Nation Global Music, will have yet another “mega” year in 2017, steering international tours by U2, Lady Gaga and Sting. In this excerpt from a lengthy interview that will run in the February issue of Venues Today, Fogel spoke with Ray Waddell, Venues Today, about Gaga’s upcoming Joanne World Tour and the artist’s transcendent Super Bowl Half Time performance.

Lady Gaga’s Joanne album just exploded at retail after what some have called the greatest Super Bowl Half Time performance of all time. As a promoter, I guess that’s about as good as you could hope for from a Super Bowl performance and tour announcement?

Arthur Fogel: (Laughing) There’s no question, it was brilliant, and [the Super Bowl] is probably the greatest platform there is for announcing a tour, particularly when she delivers like she did. But it doesn’t surprise me how great it was; her talent is so broad, and there’s such a depth of talent. There are very few artists that rise to the occasion in big moments like she does, whether it’s the Oscars, or singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl last year, obviously this half-time show, there’s a bunch of other examples. She just has such great instincts and confidence in her performance.

It must have been rewarding to watch, given your relationship with Lady Gaga, which dates back to the Monster Ball Tour in 2009.

Fogel: I started working with her eight or nine years ago; it’s turned left, it’s turned right, and it’s in a great place now. Eight or nine years seems like a long time, but it’s not really that long a time, and in that period she’s really established herself as a great artist, a great performer, and that half-time show just reconfirmed that. The tour will be the next step of blowing people away, the next phase of what’s coming after we went on sale post-Super Bowl. There will always be great success in front of her.

What can you tell me about her on-sales for the upcoming Joanne tour (which begins Aug. 1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.)?

Fogel: Everything’s sold out: Wrigley Field (Chicago), Fenway Park (Boston), Citi Field (New York), AT&T Park (San Francisco), all the arenas. The presales were last week, we went on sale to the public this morning (Feb. 13); everything’s sold out. We’re adding a second Fenway, a second Citi Field; I’d add another Chicago, but there are no avails. We’ll put the second leg of America on sale over the next couple of weeks, which runs in the fall. The tour starts in North America, goes to Europe, then comes back to America for the end of the year.

Even though she’s had big hits and tours, it always has felt like there was almost a cult following with her that everybody didn’t get. I think maybe we just saw the mainstreaming of Lady Gaga, without her compromising anything artistically?

Fogel: Very astute observation, I think you’re absolutely right. Certainly, over the last two or three years, her audience has opened up and broadened, just because of what she’s been up to and how she’s evolved, through the Tony Bennett project, through her TV work, a bunch of different things that really opened up that audience, and the Super Bowl is just the icing on the cake. People that were raving to me about it, a lot of them were never hardcore Gaga fans; it’s like a light bulb went on.

A lot of acts go pure nostalgia or can be swallowed up by that big Super Bowl stage, and Lady Gaga did neither.

Fogel: To me, the greatest thing about the Super Bowl is she did it herself, it was just full-on Gaga. I loved that there were no special guests or no 'variety show' vibe. It was just her.

She could have blown it; it was right there to be blown. It could have easily gone off the rails, had she gone in a different direction.

Fogel: (Laughs) Well, it could have, but I’m a 100 percent believer in her and have been since day one. That’s why I held Fenway and Citi and Wrigley. I believe in her.

  • by Ray Waddell
  • Published: February 14, 2017