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"Who The F*ck Is Arthur Fogel?" Review

Who The F*ck Is Arthur Fogel? He's the CEO of LiveNation Global Touring division and responsible for 7 of the top 10 all-time highest-grossing tours ever including those of U2, Madonna and a reunited The Police. Tracing his history from his early days as a drummer in his native Canuckia, he and his partners broke out of the Great White North with their 1989 Steel Wheels tour of The Rolling Stones, an act that was considered pretty washed up at the time. It became the highest-grossing tour of its time.

Using the design and construction of the massive claw stage for U2's 360 Tour as a through line, the way Fogel revolutionized music touring is the subject of fawning testimonials from Bono and Sting and other one-named stars, but we never really learn what he did that was so different. Yeah, he's making his acts tons of money, but at what cost to attendees of the shows for whom ticket prices have skyrocketed into orbit. (I took my girlfriend on our first date to see U2 on ZOO TV in 1992 for $35 a ticket. I priced comparable seats for the 360 Tour and it would've cost us $520 for a pair. We didn't go.)

Also unmentioned is what the net profits of these massive spectacles are. Having three claw stages - one sets up in the next town; one is being torn down in the last town; the third is where the band is currently - and the army of crewmen necessary to assemble and move them must be enormous. They mention needing 200 hotel rooms for crew and band and a thousand workers per show, but how does that impact the bottom line? We know U2 grossed over $700 million, but did they spend $650 million on production costs? The ego stroke of having that top ranking seems to take precedence and while U2 mentions that they were barely breaking even on ZOO TV due to the costs, we don't know how Fogel fixed it other than cranking up ticket prices.

It's not all successes, though; the disastrous Diana Ross and the non-Supremes tour and a Guns n' Roses tour that had riots are mentioned, but overall it's a shallow lovefest for a guy who's clearly revolutionized the touring business, but we never get to understand how other than the stars he's made very rich like him bunches.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable if you're a music business nerd; otherwise skip it. (Watched on Netflix, but Amazon Prime has it, too.)


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