There was a time when getting the best tickets, or any tickets at all, for the best shows meant that you had to be willing to camp out on cold concrete, sometimes for days in advance. It was first come, first served. There was some honor in acquisition.
There was also a good deal of profit to be made as well. I was reminded of this when I heard that the Police were reuniting to tour this summer. One hundred dollars for "cheap seats" we are being told - apiece. There was a time, in late 1983, when my friend and I were happy to scrape together two hundred and fifty-some dollars to buy our limit of six tickets for the Synchronicity Tour. We took shifts, and the thirty-six hours that we put in on the line seemed relatively painless, especially since we wound up with seats for the biggest concert of the year.
The plan was to keep two of the tickets, and sell the remaining four. In Al Gore's Internet enabled world, it would be no trouble getting top price on any number of ticket sites, selling only to the top bidders. Back in 1983, we were forced to "ask around." Finally, the week before the show, my friend made a connection with an acquaintance from his days at McDonald's. He bought our extra tickets for a price that 1) paid for our seats as well as theirs, 2) gave us enough extra to buy cheeseburgers and beer for the trip down, 3) bought enough gas to get us to McNiclols Sports Arena and back, and 3) funded the hallucinogens that we took in the parking lot before the show.
What I remember most about the show was wandering around in circles around the concourse of the arena during the opening act, UB40. When we finally found our seats just before the Police hit the stage, we found it difficult to sit next to our benefactors. We made small talk, and only giggled a little, and were relieved when the lights went down and the show began. The other thing I remember being most aware of was the acrimony between the members of the band. Maybe my altered state made me more sensitive, or perhaps I was projecting my own insecurities on the experience, but it seemed as though they were merely tolerating each other as they made their millions. By the following year, my drug-addled suspicions were confirmed as Andy, Stewart and Sting went off in separate directions to pursue "solo projects."
Now, in 2007, we will be treated to another big show. I think I'll be staying home this time, but I will remember the red lights that poured down on the stage during their ode to a prostitute: "Roxanne." Roxanne, it seems, was in it for the money.