Buyorselllllticccketsssssanyticketstobuyorsellllll...chances are if you’ve been to a ‘big’ gig (either size wise or a sell out) there’ll be a number of ticket touts outside doing their business. And what a fascinating business it is too. In the name of research (and partially because I quite fancied going) I hung out around a few of them before last night’s Sabbath gig. It’s a brilliant microcosm of economics in the raw, a fine lesson in something called the elasticity of demand (if my dim and distant memory of Economics A level serves me well) together with some good old fashioned blag. Think Milton Friedman meets Del Boy.
Inevitably for any big gig a fair few people won’t be able to make it for some reason...illness, hangover, imprisonment...and touts hoover up these ‘spare’ tickets, often at a bargain price and then flog ‘em on to anyone who turns up late hoping to get in. They’re a pretty well organised bunch, with various characters covering all the routes to the NIA and a constant stream of calls pinging backwards and forwards as the tickets were traded. Any attempt to cut them out of the deal and buy direct from a seller is swiftly dealt with...nothing violent mind you, just a firm hand on the seller and the promise of a better price than we were offering which, surprise surprise didn’t materialise.
Standing tickets (face value of £61 plus various dodgy add ons...handling charge, transaction tax, fairy dust fee etc) were snapped up for as little as a fiver then sold on for £30 or £40. Not a bad little tickle eh? Do that ten times and Bob’s yer uncle. One or two touts seemed to have a significant strip of tickets too...direct from the box office perhaps? Who knows.
As the time for Sabbath’s arrival drew near (8.30pm) a few buyers and sellers were locked in a battle of wills, both using different takes on the situation to argue their case.
“The gig’s about to start...I’ll give you a tenner or you’ll get nothing for it”
“Yeah, but this is one of the few standing tickets left...£60!”
It was far too close to curtain up to even consider buying a ticket and attempting to shuffle in at the back of the standing area by this point so we gave up and went for a pint at Spoonies instead. Just before we left though a couple of buyers returned to a tout explaining that they’d been refused entry because their tickets (replete with both bits...the tear off section and main ticket) had already been scanned in. They’d paid £30 each for them as well. Ouch. The tout insisted they were pukka and directed them to go to the box office, explain that they’d bought them online and then they’d get in somehow. Whether they did or not we never found out but Mr Tout scarpered pretty soon afterwards.
In the interest of journalistic fair play no one else seemed to have a problem and on the odd occasion we’ve bought tickets to sold out gigs we’ve got in okay but I guess you pays yer money and yer takes yer chance eh?
Anyway, that’s it from The Aid before Turkey Time. A very messy Christmas to all three of our regular readers out there.
PS: Found the vid and tune (by the...er...hilariously named Unlucky Fried Kitten who now seem to have disbanded following the deaths of at least two of the band...blimey) on You Tube...got a bit of an Ian Dury feel to it. Seemed highly appropriate...