On Monday, Justin Bieber announced that the remaining dates of his Purpose World Tour would be canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances.” All told, 14 shows, the majority of which were stadium dates, were scrapped.
“Justin loves his fans and hates to disappoint them,” reads part of a statement released on Monday. “He thanks his fans for the incredible experience of the Purpose World Tour over last 18 months.”
Those last two words are telling — the Purpose tour had been running for a year-and-a-half (technically 17 months, to nitpick a bit) since launching in March 2016. Although Bieber has yet to provide a specific explanation for the cancelled dates (a report from TMZ suggests that his dedication to Hillsong Church played a factor; a rep for Bieber has yet to confirm this to Billboard), exhaustion from a rigorous schedule could have played a factor in his decision. On Monday, Bieber said that he was looking forward to “just resting, getting some relaxation” after canceling the end of the tour. Was the Purpose route simply too ambitious?
Since beginning on Mar. 9, 2016, Bieber’s Purpose tour logged 150 shows before wrapping up in London on July 2. That’s a total of 330 off-days over a span of 480 days. Lots of R&R on a long tour, right? Looking at the itinerary, though, the Purpose trek included only a handful of extended breaks for Bieber. After touring North America from March 2016 to last July, the pop superstar headed to Asia and then Europe less than a month later, and wrapped up a little after Thanksgiving. He played a total of 82 cities in 2016.
In 2017 alone, Bieber hit Mexico, Australia, Latin America, Israel, India, South Africa and another prolonged Europe run. Using back-of-the-envelope math and not counting likely travel days, Bieber enjoyed roughly 120 off-days during the entire Purpose tour. And 77 of those days happened in the same span, during an extended break that included the holidays and all of last January.
Still: four months of vacation! Well, add in the awards show performances, including at the 2016 Grammys and 2016 Billboard Music Awards. Then add in the time it took to crank out smash collaborations like Major Lazer’s “Cold Water,” DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You,” DJ Khaled’s “I’m The One” and the remix to Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” all released months after the Purpose tour kicked off. Toss in various promo, movie cameos, Super Bowl commercials, and… you’re looking at a pretty packed itinerary during one of the biggest pop tours of the decade.
Just how big was the Purpose tour? It was the fifth-biggest tour of 2016, and earlier this year, it crossed the $200 million mark, according to Billboard Boxscore. Yet its gross also underscores how long the tour ran when compared to other pop spectacles with a similar scope. Adele’s live run in support of 25 rivaled Bieber’s as the must-attend pop tour of 2016-17; her international trek was 29 dates shorter than his, and wrapped up two months earlier. Taylor Swift’s seven-part 1989 world tour was contained to 85 shows and seven months in 2015, while Beyonce’s Formation World Tour and Rihanna’s Anti World Tour were 49 and 75 shows, respectively.
Road warriors like U2 and Coldplay have each traveled for over a year on tour, but even U2’s record-smashing 360 Tour from 2009-2011 only contained 110 shows, and had longer breaks in between legs. The point is: it’s rare to find a giant tour running as long as the Purpose tour did with such a high concentration of performances over the course of its globe-trotting journey. Could you really blame him if exhaustion was a primary factor in ending that journey a couple stops early?