On May 25th, 2013 $85 and a bit of luck bought me three hours of Rock & Roll heaven.
Every time The Rolling Stones embark on a tour they get tons and tons of press, and justifiably so. In addition to their obvious place atop the upper echelon of Rock & Roll royalty they consistently put on miraculously great performances. But for their 50 & Counting tour the press often focussed on what were legitimately outrageous ticket prices.
If I recall correctly, pit tickets were in the $800 range, floors and 100 levels were somewhere around $400 a seat and even the nosebleeds went for more than $150 per seat at face value. These prices were hitherto unheard of; scalper prices coming directly from the band. But it was The Stones so the shows sold out left, right and centre.
Something that didn’t get much attention was the magical $85 ticket option. These tickets could only be bought online in pairs and had to be picked up in-person by the purchaser on the day of the show. The magic lay in the fact that you didn’t know where you would be sitting until you picked up your tickets. The $85 tickets could put you anywhere in the building, nosebleeds to pit, and I had a pair.
The magic ticket line was long and exciting. Every once in a while someone at the front would let out a victorious whoop and get braceletted and escorted away to the pit. Everyone in the line was hoping for the same thing, but those whoops seemed pretty few and far between. Finally it was my turn.
An usher escorted me through the floor section all the way to the front. A security guard checked my bracelet and bade me entrance – I ducked below the lip-shaped catwalk that defined the pit and found a comfortable spot halfway up.
The view was really incredible. I couldn’t believe how close I was, and with the ramp going around me I had a 360 degree view of the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band. The Stones came out to absolutely thunderous applause and tore up the place from start to finish.
Despite their age the band still delivers: Mick is an athletic juggernaut, Ron is the epitome of Rock & Roll perfection every time he steps into a solo, Charlie has always been the understated genius in the band and of course Keith remains as Keithy as ever. Carrie Underwood even sat in for a song.
Of course I spent most of the evening locked on Keith Richards, one of my musical heroes. He was playing well and looked really happy to be up there. He was moving around a bit and even came out on the catwalk a couple of times, though he spent the better part of the show on stage left, maybe fifteen feet in front of me. I was like a giddy schoolgirl.
Hit after hit, the band played almost every song everyone wanted to hear. Anthems every one: every chord progression practically defines the genre, each lyric another verse in the psalms of rock history. At the end of the evening nobody left the building disappointed.
Likely not even the bloke who sidled up to me before the show began. “Doesn’t that just piss you off?” he asked me as some lucky couple entered the pit whooping it up about their $85 miracle. “Here you and I pay almost $800 a ticket to be up here in the pit and these guys get in for less than $100,” he grumbled.
“It ain’t right,” he concluded, crossing his arms.
I just nodded and sunk back into the magic.