• Pop Vicious

Tour Whores: Coming to a Venue Near You

written by: on February 23, 2012

Some bands just can’t get enough of the screaming crowds, hot stage lights, girls flashing their goods, crowd surfing, fans chanting and applauding—it’s all about the intensity and the instant gratification of a live performance. Life on the road can’t always be fun and rewarding, right? Yet these serial live-performers are addicted to that tour-bus lifestyle. It’s those pop phenomenons who seem to be on a never-ending tour, whether they’re supporting an album or their normal rocker lifestyle was becoming too grounded at home. Do these artists do it for the money? The attention? The gratification? We may never know exactly.

It takes a lot of money to support a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, which might explain, in part, why some musicians are drawn to lucrative stage work. The Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna have all had several successful worldwide tours, bankrolled by hundreds of thousands of cult fans.

Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour (Aug. 23, 2008 – Sept. 2, 2009) not only holds the record for highest-grossing tour by a solo artist, she brought in approximately $408 million dollars from the 85 multicontinent shows. The Rolling Stones have graced the stage more times than Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, combined, ever will. With the Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour (Aug. 21, 2005, – Aug. 26, 2007), they grossed more than half a billion dollars with 144 shows, making it the second-highest grossing tour. Music moguls/humanitarian philanthropists U2 have trotted across the globe a few times themselves. U2’s 360 Tour in support of  No Line on the Horizon spanned more than 24 months (June 20, 2009 – July 30, 2011) and included 110 shows. It grossed more than $735 million, giving it the title of top-grossing tour of all time.

Without a doubt, Madonna, U2 and The Rolling Stones know how to draw a crowd. But after all these years of costume changes and pyrotechnics, are they doing it for the love of the music or just to add some dough to their already lofty piles of gold?

While these musicians appear to be adding capital to their performance portfolios, other groups like Ben Folds, Lady Gaga and Cher are so busy marathon touring the planet that they might not even have time to spend all the money they’re earning.

Ben Folds has been touring off and on as a solo act since 2001. His tours have included multiple shows per cities, and even performances on college campuses. Whether his tours supported recently released albums or not, for about a decade, fans could set their watch by when the Ben Folds show would come to town. And Lady Gaga is no novice when it comes to long tours. The Monster Ball, Lady Gaga’s second worldwide tour, started Nov. 27, 2009 and wrapped up May 6, 2011. Lady Gaga took the stage 201 times for shows across the globe. Though not nearly as fruitful as others (grossing only about $250 million), the longest-running concert tour was performed by Cher. Living Proof: The Farewell Tour was just short of three years in duration (June 14, 2002 – April 30, 2005) and included 326 shows.

As for the motivation behind these never-ending concert tours, it may just be a secret known only to the eyes of the musician beholder. Do they want to see their fans across the world? Do they crave the occasional (narcissistic) auditorium of applause? Are they saving up for the latest model SUV made of pure gold? Are they trying to take over the world? Perhaps these mega pop stars find their home lives to be mundane and stale when they aren’t performing. While most of us get a rush from finishing a day’s work in less than eight hours, these overachieving musicians aren’t happy unless they’ve booked shows from Tennessee to Timbuktu for the next two years.