(Photo of Michael Cohl courtesy of NYT)
2013 is the year The Rolling Stones discovered there is a limit to what people will pay. In the most embarrassing way – having unsold premium tickets.
This is what The Guardian said today: “Glancing at the North American concert dates on the Stones’ website, there is one clear pattern: only the cheap seats are sold out. As the band prepares to begin their first major tour in six years, they have been releasing more and more $85 (£55) tickets for what is otherwise an insanely pricey show: a huge proportion of tonight’s seats cost between $450 (£290) and $600 (£386), plus a “convenience fee”.”
This Blog refers back to the Licks Tour, a decade ago when CX attended the Sydney show at what was then Acer Arena (now Allphones Arena) at Homebush Bay.
We were invited by then sound engineer and confirmed Irishman, Robbie McGrath.
Robbie’s career had taken off in the decade before from Simply Red to – of all places – AC/DC, and then The Stones. It was a beautiful story – a sound guy who was salt of the earth; those magnificent music genres, through to the top of the touring pile.
At Acer, Robbie explained the nuances of touring with the Stones, and this involved a hitherto amazingly stingy regime where NO-ONE had a free ticket.
He claimed that the impresario, Michael Cohl (now the the former Chairman of Live Nation) had put his nuts on the wire for the tour, and had directed anyone who wished to have friends, prospects, family or Rolls Royce dealers attend should buy a promoter seat. CX would have done so, had we been so advised.
While learning of this, and talking audio at the console in the period between soundcheck and house, one Ronnie Wood did in fact materialize at the console to chat with Robbie and confirm that the Sydney Rolls dealer would be there – due to some contra with the marque and the Wood.
CX sat back nonplussed.
We are immune to celebrity proximity, having an enormous empathy with the tortured world of scrutiny the poor buggers endure. We would prefer to be the filthy rich anonymous (and Australian) artist manager like Roger Davies, than his current star, Pink!
So to the story: although this was ten years ago, Cohl was testing the boundaries with no comp tickets, no favors, and no prisoners. This became apparent when Robbie broke the tour rules and invited CX to sit next to him, at the console, on the riser, to see the gig. Gratefully I accepted – who wouldn’t?
Sure enough just prior to showtime as the excited audience burbled, the riser area was devoid of extraneous people other than a Jagger or Richards daughter or two. I felt right at home!
An angry man appeared.
He may well have been Cohl, but CX does not allege he was.
He zoomed over to Mr. CX and wrenched my laminate so he could see in the houselights that I was indeed invited.
It was a close encounter of the weird kind.
A heated discussion with Robbie ensued,with official thumb pointing and jabbing at myself on several occasions.
I am not and was not privy to the nuances of this. But Robbie told me as soon as The Presence had stalked off that I was Not Sanctioned and I Was Noticed on the riser. This matter was what he (Robbie) had words about with the senior tour official (whomever that was). I probably was about to be thrown out which is not unknown. The official CX policy on Very Important Shows (VIS) is that if we really want to see them we actually buy a ticket. No brainer. But if invited, we stay.
I felt bad for Robbie, but enjoyed the show on the vacant riser, devoid of the usual retinue of flunkies, and in the rarefied presence of the offspring of greatness.
Great show, great band, great sound.