Arthur Fogel - Tour promoter
Los Angeles is where I live, Toronto is where I'm from.
Title on the Road
Tour promoter/producer (I guess)
Day To Day Role
The major work for me begins months before the tour ever starts and that's all about setting the tour venues, marketing of the tickets, hiring crews, putting together budgets... everything to prep the project. Once the tour is under way it's just about making sure everything is running well on the production side and the venue side.
First Time I saw U2
That was 1981, the first show they played in Toronto, a little club called El Mocambo and I was the promoter. At the time, based in Toronto, I promoted shows across Canada and I remember it was one of those shows where you feel this recognition that you are in the presence of something very special. It was exhilarating and for someone who sees any number of bands on a weekly basis, it becomes harder for something to really excite you but I remember thinking, 'Holy Shit......!'
I've had that feeling other times and been absolutely wrong but this was one of those rare moments where you recognise genius. Even if it was unrefined, raw and embryonic.
Ended up Working With U2
I guess we got a call from Premier Talent, their agent at the time, and that was how it started. We promoted them throughout Canada over the years as they ascended through clubs and ballrooms and into arena's and stadiums. That was right up until ZOO TV in the early 1990's when Michael Cohl, my partner, and I took on a different approach to the business by acquiring the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour for the whole world.
We decided that promoting in future was going to be worldwide, a global business and that it would be more sensible to have all the shows for certain acts than to have a few shows for every act.
Coming off that Stones tour brought us to POPMART and we approached Paul and the band about a similar worldwide deal. It turned out that they were starting to think in that direction too. We ended up as promoters of POPMART and later of Elevation and now of Vertigo.
Also Worked With
Rolling Stones, Madonna, David Bowie, we just did the last Sting tour, Neil Young... these are my regular artists.
U2 compared to other touring bands
For me personally it is an absolute labour of love. On a business level they are incredibly astute and fair. It is a very professional and enjoyable experience. It all starts at the top as in any industry and what starts at the top in this organisation is just a great sense of respect for people. Everything they do is done with great style and a very human touch.
Favourite memory of life on the road with U2
That would be Saint Patrick's Day in Cape Town South Africa in 1997. I remember I was in my room, I didn't really connect that it was Patrick's Day and I went down to the hotel bar to buy some cigarettes. Bono and Larry were there and Bono said, 'We're going out for a drink!' So we ended up going down this alleyway which was all very quiet and then this door opened and we walked into an Irish pub in the middle of Cape Town... and it was absolute bedlam! There were people dancing on the bar, completely wild, it just seemed so incongruous to where we were and ended up being an awesome night.
What Are You Doing During the Show ?
There are a lot of great people on this tour and all at the top of their game, so I really don't do a lot! I go through my check list of what is going on, making sure everything is as it should. I'm interacting with Jake Berry on the production side, with Scott Nichols on the security side and with Craig Evans on the venues side. Sometimes, however much you prepare in advance, surprises crop up - the most recent example being Live 8. Bono asked me if I could step in and help out in organising bands to play and in identifying the right venue in the US. I'm happy to help him because of how important this is but you can't plan in advance for this kind of thing.
Best Thing About Touring
The ultimate joy of a U2 tour is that all of it lines up, artistic, musical and critical success, together with financial success. Sometimes it is taken for granted but we are very fortunate to be in a position where that happens on a regular basis, like selling out 110 shows with such urgency is remarkable, Three and a half million people will see U2 this year and only one tour has ever grossed more and that took place over two years, not one year like this one.
Worst Thing About Touring
Being away from the family.
Highlight of the Show
I love when the show has opened with City of Blinding Lights, that is stunning.. As for 'Streets', I think that may be the greatest live moment in any rock and roll show ever. No matter how many times you see it, it still delivers such energy. But I'm pleased to hear the songs from the new album which are playing incredibly well.
Currently listening to
I'm into my iPod and it is a mix of absolutely everything from Miles Davis to Steely Dan to The Clash. I do tend to seek out the jazz oriented side of music for when I'm out walking or working out.
Would Love U2 to Play
I would like to hear Bad more often than they play it, but other than that there is such a tremendous catalogue of songs available to them I'm always happy.
Whose job on tour would you most like ?
Considering that I started as a drummer I would like Larry's job. He's living my dream. I don't think he knows that. I drummed for quite a few years, playing when I was a kid in a bunch of different bands in Ottawa and Toronto but I quickly realised that my future was on the other side of the business.
'If it was easy they wouldn't need us.'