My exposure to the live music experience is becoming quite limited these days. For instance, I even missed Dylan the last time he hit Wales and have found myself increasingly only stepping out for gigs at small venues with nice seats. Signs of getting older? Probably. In the past few years (say, about twelve), I have found that for every gig I love there are at least two more that turn into a disappointment due to things like over-crowding, venues that are like aircraft hangers, extortionate ticket prices, knobheads in the audience (plenty of these) and just plain crapness from the performers. Basically, I am reluctant to shell out hard earned cash for a second rate experience – even for my musical idol, Mr. Zimmerman. With all these things in mind, I decided it would still be a good thing to get tickets to see Patti Smith at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff – it’s a great venue, Patti is a legend and the last time I saw her there I really enjoyed myself (coming home home with a much treasured drumstick from the hands of Jay Dee Daugherty). I did even consider going along on my own, which is something I am rarely willing to do these days, having been depressed by being ‘Johnny No Mates’ at too many shows in the past. You can imagine my delight when my pal Paul said he’d like to go too. So, I check how to get hold of two tickets for Patti Smith at the Coal Exchange. T’would seem you can only get them via Ticketline. Okay, I thought, here goes. I check the details: £25 each (for standing) plus £2.00 admin fee each ticket. All right, that’s the way it is these days, so I begin to type in my details. At the end of this process, just as I’m about to commit, I note it says that tickets must be posted and this would cost a further £6.00! What?? £6.00 for putting two tickets in the post? Madness. Thus, no thank you very much and it’s a great shame we’ll be missing the great poetess of punk rock.
Just a few of the punters at a recent gig at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Is it really worth all this dosh to see live bands? I appreciate the likes of Dylan and Smith are big names but even so. What’s worse is the sense I always get of being treated like cattle; herded into venues, prodded and poked and pushed by stewards and fellow members of the audience; feeling more like an inconvenience rather than a valued fan and customer. Some of the more intimate venues are still pretty good and I can report recent pleasurable experiences at the Aberdare Coliseum, Treorchy Parc and Dare, the Fleece and Firkin in Bristol and Cardiff’s much missed Globe but I ain’t paying a heap of dough for a few hours of ritual humiliation and extortion. £100 to see Van the Man, anyone?