Justin Bieber and the toll of touring: Why fans should have the singer's back

We wish the singer who is slated to perform in Dubai next month, all the best on his road to recovery.



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
by

Enid Grace Parker

Published: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 1:56 PM

Last updated: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 3:44 PM

As an audience watching our favourite artists perform live on stage, we can perhaps gauge little of what goes on in their heads while they try their best to keep us entertained for a span of two or more hours.

Can we really comprehend the level of effort and energy that goes into each live show and the drive and motivation required to pull off spectacular performances each time one hits the stage?

And imagine doing that almost every night for months on end - which is what most bands or musician’s world tours entail.

Being on the road can take its toll, especially when you are dealing with physical or mental health issues.

American musician Tom Petty, famous for hits like Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down, passed away in 2017 at the age of 66, days after concluding a tour. Petty died of an accidental overdose; he had taken several pain medications, which he had been prescribed for emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip, as well as others for sleep aid and depression.

“Despite this painful injury, he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury,” Petty’s wife Dana and daughter Adria wrote in the statement at the time.

And while we tend to assume it’s the older artists who succumb most to these pressures, the young aren’t spared either.

Take 24-year-old Grammy-award nominee Shawn Mendes (Señorita, Treat You Better), who recently cancelled his world tour citing mental health reasons. "It has become more clear that I need to take the time I've never taken personally, to ground myself and come back stronger," he wrote in a statement.

And yesterday, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, Justin Bieber, announced that he was taking a break from touring.

He was on his Justice World Tour, which experienced a hiatus when Bieber announced in an Instagram video in June 2022 that he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. Fans and celebrity well-wishers were sympathetic on the platform, urging him to rest and get well soon. A brace of North American tour dates were postponed.

Bieber resumed the Justice tour on July 31 with a performance at the Lucca Summer Festival in Italy. On Tuesday, he made an announcement on his Instagram account saying he was “taking a break from touring” and that he needed to make his “health the priority” after following up with his doctors, family and team.

He wrote how the six live shows that he performed after resuming the tour “took a real toll” on him.

A fan of Canadian singer Justin Bieber at Rock in Rio music festival in Brazil, on September 4, 2022 (Photo: AFP)
A fan of Canadian singer Justin Bieber at Rock in Rio music festival in Brazil, on September 4, 2022 (Photo: AFP)

After he performed at Rock in Rio in Brazil, he wrote, the exhaustion “overtook” him and he realized the need to take a break.

“I’m going to take a break from touring for the time being. I’m going to be okay, but I need time to rest and get better,” he said. “I’ve been so proud to bring this show and our message of Justice to the world.”

He thanked fans for their continued support, writing, “I love you all passionately!”

Bieber, 28, is a huge draw here in the UAE; he last performed in Dubai in May 2017 as part of his Purpose World Tour, his second performance in the emirate after a 2013 gig.

Justin Bieber performs at the Autism Rocks Arena as part of his Purpose Tour in Dubai on Saturday, May 06, 2017 (Photo: KT File)
Justin Bieber performs at the Autism Rocks Arena as part of his Purpose Tour in Dubai on Saturday, May 06, 2017 (Photo: KT File)

Beliebers (die-hard fans of Bieber) are eagerly awaiting his next set of gigs in the country, announced for October 8 and 9 this year at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena as part of his Justice World Tour.

But with the singer’s announcement that he will be taking a break from touring, the status of his future shows remains uncertain. However, venue Coca-Cola Arena clarified on Wednesday that the Dubai shows "have NOT been cancelled".

A September 7 report in The New Zealand Herald quoted a local promoter Frontier Touring’s statement wishing him a speedy recovery and assuring fans that at this stage, they had been given directions the New Zealand (December 7) and Australian shows would go ahead.

As someone who has followed the evolution of Justin Bieber’s career since his smash-hit debut with EP My World in 2009, I can’t help but admire his continued resolve to strike a balance between remaining committed to fans and his music, as well as pay due attention to his mental and physical health.

A section of the crowd at Justin Bieber's concert at Autism Rocks Arena in Dubai on Saturday, May 06, 2017 (Photo: KT File)
A section of the crowd at Justin Bieber's concert at Autism Rocks Arena in Dubai on Saturday, May 06, 2017 (Photo: KT File)

Bieber has been candid in the past about his struggles and his demons, over the course of an often rocky transition from teen heart-throb to global pop idol. In a 2019 post he spoke about making “terrible decisions” because of the kind of fame he attained at a young age as well as being raised in an unstable home, the fallout of which included substance abuse, misogyny and anger.

The Love Yourself singer has been married to model Hailey since 2018; she went through her own health scare back in March when she was hospitalized for a blood clot to her brain.

While Beliebers in the UAE (and those beyond who may have made travel plans to see Bieber here) await more news about his concerts in Dubai, let’s not forget the connection that has been forged between artist and fans, thanks mostly to social media.

It allows us in a way to empathize with the artist’s point of view, and the possible fear of not being able to do what you love most in the world.

As fans we should give something back to the artists who have inspired us with their music, who have lifted us up when we were down. So even though any impending cancellation of his local shows spells disappointment, we wish Justin Bieber all the best on his road to recovery and hope to see him getting back to doing what he does best on stage at some point in the future.


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