Wednesday 26 January 2005

And you want me to go without

This is a bit of a long one (again. I am so verbose) Bear with me though, I've a couple of questions for you to answer at the end, a quick music related survey, and I'd quite like hear what you've got to say. If you get bored easily, you might want to pop down to the end and answer the questions right now.....

Still here?

Ok. On with the post.

Tickets for the European leg of U2's Vertigo Tour go on general sale on Friday morning. In spite of the fact that they are playing enormous stadiums (as usual), I imagine that competition for tickets will be fierce. I'm sure more than a few people will be slyly hitting the 'refresh' button on their internet browser at work whilst pretending to be incredibly focused on a fiendishly complex, macro-filled spreadsheet.

So how come a search on ("U2 vertigo ticket") brings up 42 results? Retro-Boy has searched and reports that 855 different people are offering U2 tickets.

How does that work?

Actually I know how. I've been going to concerts with my mate John for absolutely years (I think our first gig together was probably metallica at the Milton Keynes Bowl in about 1992. When we ticked R.E.M. off our 'must see bands' list in the summer of 2003, we decided that U2 were probably the last really, really big band that we still wanted to see live, and hadn't yet seen. You have to be organised about this kind of thing, especially when tickets are likely to be hard to get hold of. Pretty much as soon as we knew that U2 were about to release an album, we formulated our strategy and both signed up for membership of the U2 website. It looks as though bands increasingly set aside a number of tickets for a pre-sale for the subscribers on their website. I'd already benefitted from this in 2004 by getting advance access to tickets for both Snow Patrol and Morrissey in small-ish venues. I thought U2 might just do the same thing. Almost right.

A few weeks ago, I had an email from telling me about a special club. For $40 you could join the club. The benefits? A shiny keyring, a discount from the online U2 shop, and early access to specially set aside tickets ahead of the general sale. I resisted at first because it just seems ridiculous. Then the band looked like announcing a tour, and the sheer horror of the thought that I might have to spend hours and hours on the phone and hitting f5 simultaneously... John and I decided we would split it and share the 4 tickets we would be entitled to.

Sure enough, when the tickets went onsale to club members on Tuesday at 10:00 GMT, I was able to get onto the Ticketmaster site and use a special code to buy 4 Standing tickets to the Twickenham date. It wasn't easy - the site kept crashing under the load, and it took several attempts to get through. I then did it all over again to get Lord Bargain's tickets for the Manchester date using his code (poor old Lord Bargain having spent the week in Luxor and being sadly unable to get to the internet in time). Some of my other friends, Statue John and the Ultimate Olympian are still fighting to get their tickets a whole 36 hours later (in a race against time before the general sale starts.... I bet that $40 doesn't feel all that well spent to them at the moment.

And of course, within minutes, hundreds of tickets were appearing on Ebay as people seek to make a quick profit. It makes me cross. I hate this attitude that sees people buy more tickets than they need, or as many tickets as they can for a concert they have no intention of going to, just so they can make some money. The NME tour was in Nottingham on Sunday night, featuring bands like The Killers, Bloc Party and The Futureheads. Out of interest, I had been monitoring Ebay all week and seeing people getting £75 for a pair of £17.50 tickets. The worst one was the one that I saw on the Friday night: some bloke had one spare ticket, and was offering to meet up with someone in front of Rock City to hand over the ticket to the winning bidder, as there wasn't enough time to post it. Bidding started at £50 for that one ticket. When I was in a similar position at The Hives gig I went to a couple of months ago, I gave the spare ticket to someone who was about to buy one off a tout. It cost me nothing, because Statue John had already paid for the ticket, and hadn't been able to make it, but I had no thought of selling it, and just wanted to make sure it wasn't wasted. The attitude that sees people put profit before everything else, the sheer greed of it... ah! Well, it annoys me.


I know Bono has got a world to save, and everything, but, really - how much were they charging? On top of the $40 I laid out for membership, I paid nearly £250 for 4 tickets - £55 per ticket for those standing tickets - plus ticketmaster's pound of flesh. Lord Bargain's seated tickets for the Manchester date were priced at £84 each. I'm sure that giant Lemons aren't cheap, but....that's a lot of money. Can I criticise St.Bono for that? Is that allowed? It's not like U2 need the cash, is it? Is Bono aiming to pay off third world debt personally?


Right then: the questions.

As I was listening to my Ipod at work this afternoon, I was reflecting that the first song you pay to download *must* say something about you, mustn't it? The very first song that you download, the one that persuades you to take out your credit card and enter a whole new world.

Mine was actually "Vertigo" by U2.

When I first got my Ipod, Itunes wasn't available on the PC, so I had downloaded all of my music into a completely different application (Media Centre) and when Itunes had arrived, I had no incentive to move, even after they had opened the music store. Apart from all the inevitable hassle I assumed would result when I tried to move my music library, the idea of downloading anything from the internet wasn't really on my mind, legal or otherwise. My Ipod was purely filled up with stuff ripped directly off my own CDs. It was probably the advertising campaign that did it in the end, and I'm sure "Vertigo" would be the song cited by thousands of others as their first paid download. Once I'd done that, the dam was open, and I have been buying all sorts of stuff since then (although I haven't downloaded a whole album yet - I still like to pick them up on CDs).

I'm curious though (and here come the questions....finally.....)

What was the first song you paid to download?

Or if you haven't done it yet, what song would you pay to download?

If you can be bothered, I'd also be interested to know what the first CD you ripped onto your PC was.... mine was "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" by Coldplay. What was yours? That probably says something about you too. Was it your favourite album?

Answers on a postcard (or in comment) please.....

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