Paul McCartney announced his first UK tour dates for over three years on the 5th July with fans immediately voicing their concerns at obtaining tickets for the three gigs he was scheduled too play in Liverpool, Glasgow and London. The total tickets on sale would be around 44,000, but how many would find there way through to true Paul McCartney 'fans'?
One thing was certain, this particular ticket sale was set to ask more questions than answers and a backlash against pre sale tickets, secondary ticket sale websites, Ticketmaster and yes, Paul McCartney himself
Queuing, has always been in our DNA, whether it be in the golden days of cinema, shop sales or yes, for concert tickets.
We don't like it, but as a reward you get the chance to queue overnight in all kinds of weather with fellow fans, all in it together with the understanding that if we 'put in hours, we'll get the reward' (sic).
In 1973, I was an 18 year old, going to disco's, attending rock gigs and busy keeping my Beatles & solo collection up to date.
In 1971, Paul McCartney had formed Wings, performed live in 1972 using a suprise eleven date UK University tour and a twenty-six date European Tour to turn the band into a tight little unit ready to take on the World. On vinyl he'd released McCartney (solo), Ram (Paul & Linda) and Wild Life, the debut album from Wings.
Now in 1973, the renamed Paul McCartney and Wings were set to release Red Rose Speedway on the 4th May and a week later embark on their official UK tour. It began in Bristol on the 11th May. ending in Newcastle on the 10th July after three July dates were added to the tour. Much to my delight the itinerary also included two concerts in Manchester at the Hard Rock, Stretford on the 16th and 17th May.
Now, good old 1973 is a lot different to 2018 in a number of ways, especially buying concert tickets for major artists including Paul McCartney.
Forty-five years ago there were no mobile phones, no internet or social media, if you wanted to make a telephone call in our household you'd usually announce it, "Is it okay to phone...", "Yes, but don't be on long" was the usual reply. Time was money!
The only information you could obtain about upcoming concerts was either through local media, in our case the Manchester Evening News or Granada TV - Music magazines, I bought NME or Sounds - the local venue box office or ticket outlets including Paperchase in Manchester.
Travel seemed out of the question, even the Hard Rock in Stretford seemed to be on the other side of the World:-). Proved by the fact we had to get a taxi after Paul's gig, it was the only way we could find our way home.
But that's what was so good about buying tickets for gigs in 1973, most fans attended local concerts and even for major artists there was plenty of concerts around.
Take for instance David Bowie, in 1972/73, he embarked on his Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane tour performing 182 UK shows, yes UK shows, sometimes double headers, between 29 January 1972 - 3 July 1973.
The reason I mention Bowie is because when I strolled into Paperchase to buy Paul McCartney & Wings tickets for the Hard Rock, there stuck on the counter was a hand-written note to say tickets were on sale for his 7th June 1973 Aladdin Sane gig at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester (Paul McCartney and Wings were to play there in 1975) one of two shows that night. This was the norm and the beauty of 1973.
Fast Forward 45 years, of course times change, the artists play less gigs, the Arena's are bigger, but depending on the number of dates, there could be less tickets available, there's the internet, pre sale tickets, official ticket packages including soundchecks, official ticket sites, secondary ticket sale websites, hefty booking fees and local touts all ready to make BIG money from fans who's only sin is they want to buy a ticket for an artist they want to see in concert.
I don't propose to give any answers on how to remedy this situation but for starters the artists website or social media site should be made to confirm how many:
pre sale tickets are made available.
official packages are available and how many tickets are available. A few free upgrades at the venue shouldn't allow them to satisfy their conscience.
tickets are available and where they are on sale
tickets will be available at the venue
Don't get me started on Ticketmaster or secondary ticket sale websites, probably the same thing, that's for another day.
But, you know, one of the biggest culprits are the public themselves.
Whether they are general music fans, fans of the artist or just out to make themselves a profit. They help to feed the secondary ticket sale websites, measures need to be taken to prevent them from doing so.
We took the option of queuing outside the Echo Arena, Liverpool from the Sunday morning, a full 24 hours before the tickets went on sale. Around 70 fans had arrived to queue up by the time the box office had opened.
Ten minutes before tickets went on sale, we received the information that only 171 tickets available through the box office, and the fans near the back needed to get on their Laptops and mobile phones.
Think about it, the Echo Arena, Liverpool (and no doubt the other venues) with a capacity of 11,000 has a measly 171 tickets available when they finally go on open sale to the public. It meant a number of fans who had made an effort to queue up didn't have the opportunity to buy a ticket at the box office. What a disgrace!
It's never going to be good old 1973 again for buying concert tickets but besides a few artists who have made their own stand to try to make it better for their own fans, 2018STINKS and nobody who has the power to make a difference seems to care...