Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: Prince fan's dreams come to an end

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Karl Puschmann desperately wanted to score tickets to Prince's first New Zealand show. Was he successful? This is his story.
Prince is a legendary live performer, but his gigs in Auckland will be an intimate affair. Photo / AP
Prince is a legendary live performer, but his gigs in Auckland will be an intimate affair. Photo / AP

On an otherwise humdrum Friday afternoon last week Prince announced plans to swoop into Auckland to play a couple of gigs.

As usual I had Twitter percolating away in the background when the news broke. A tidal wave of retweets and exclamation points crashed down on my feed, washing everything non-Prince related away and effectively turning the social network into a grammatically challenged but very enthusiastic shrine to his purpleness.

It was hard news to believe, but right there in an uncharacteristically plain and no-nonsense font the press release read, "Prince coming to Australia and New Zealand".

Satisfied it was legit, my head exploded.

I was so excited I just couldn't hide it. I'd been waiting for this day forever. I immediately added my voice and exclamation mark to the throng.

'Best. Day. Ever!' I tweeted, which in hindsight shows I probably got a little too caught up in the moment. Last year my partner and I had a daughter and I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be the correct response when asked which day was the best one ever.

But come on ... this was Prince! He hadn't been here before. He might not ever come again. It was cause for celebration, or at the very least, a celebratory tweet.

Next, my monkey brain realised his performance was a mere 18 days away. An unheard-of timeframe. Commonly there's at least four to five months between announcement and show. With superstar acts like Prince the wait can drag on for the guts of a year. For contrast, Madonna announced her upcoming gig about a decade ago. So the fact that in less than three weeks Auckland would bathe in the purple rain was an undeniable buzz.

My thoughts quickly turned to set lists. Would Prince play the hits? If so, which ones? There are so many. How life-changing would the show be? Utterly or completely? Would it ruin other gigs forever? Quite possibly, yes.

My head was a jumble of excitable questions all spilling on top of each other. But what goes up must come down and my Prince comedown was brutal and immediate as pedestrian matters began to purple rain on my parade.

The first was a practical thought. Where would Prince play? Where could he play? Vector Arena? Mt Smart Stadium? Western Springs? Was Auckland even big enough to host Prince?

The second caused an involuntary shudder as I relived all the frantic mouse clicking and website refreshing that's involved in buying concert tickets now.

But it was the third thought that saw reality's cold, hard hand slapping me right across the face. How much was it gonna cost to see Prince? How much was I prepared to pay?

I didn't know. No one knew. Someone tweeted that tickets would be $500 plus booking fee each. Later, once I'd stopped sobbing, I realised this had been a gag and that the actual price was yet to be announced.

Still, it says something about the relentlessly upward trend of ticket prices that this speculative and outrageous figure seemed entirely feasible.

But it was Prince himself who offered a small glimmer of hope. After all, he did once sing that you didn't have to be rich to be his girl. But that was a long time ago. Now, if you wanted him to rock your world you were gonna need cash money, baby.

And a lot of it.

Because when the prices were announced they ranged from eye-wateringly expensive to merely exorbitant. But really, what price genius?

Either $389.90 or $219.90, as it turns out. Yes, a handful of $99 tickets would be released, but at that price I suspect these seats were situated in the lobby outside the auditorium.

To secure a seat with a view of the stage instead of the toilets you were going to need more than just fat wads or good credit. You were going to need extraordinary luck.

That's because Prince's venue of choice was Aotea Centre's ASB Theatre, with only a measly 2000 seats.

This made getting Prince tickets the equivalent of winning the lottery and then immediately being handed a bill for all your winnings.

Nevertheless, when tickets went on sale yesterday I was online, feverishly clicking and refreshing with the rest of New Zealand. Hoping and praying that I'd be that little bit more special than the rest of you, and get anointed as one of the few, one of the chosen.

I wasn't. My dream of seeing Prince live, dead.

I had wanted to party like it was 1999 but now I know what it feels like when doves cry. It feels like s***, Prince. It feels like s***.

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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