I don't know which is worse: the promoter of next year's Neil Diamond concert at the Mission engineering the idea it was one night only, then (12 days later) announcing a South Island show; or scammers on-selling $20,000 worth of fraudulently purchased tickets?

Mainlanders who bought tickets then booked flights and accommodation must be feeling ripped off; besides adding to accommodation woes in the Bay.

It's enough, with so many acts and online ticket sales so far in advance for shows at so many venues and cities, choosing what to go to; without the frustration of queuing for hours on iDevices, verifying you're the one - not a robot, then still risk being had.

I recall how honest and tangible it was queuing for tickets in London in the 70s, huddled all night in the cold or rain in a sleeping bag, with queues across the pavement and around the block at certain venues.


Good times sharing band stories, hot toddies, cookies and other substances with newfound hippy queue acquaintances, knowing the tickets we purchased would invariably lead us to seats together at shows.

Queue pals I saw over and over, swapping recommendations and gossip about bands performing across town, at the Roundhouse or Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park or Royal Albert Hall; concerts by The Who, Faces, Jethro Tull, Humble Pie and Pink Floyd - previewing Dark Side of the Moon a year before recording it.

My shared disappointment after queuing all night for tickets to David Crosby and Graham Nash outside the Royal Strand Theatre, missing out just shy of the box office, then my elation later hearing they'd announced a second show.

First in the queue next time round, I scored front row seats; happy on the night that all was right and equitable seeing Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page sitting three rows behind.

Or my wife, pregnant, queuing for hours outside Virgin Records for limited seats to Led Zeppelin at Wembley's Empire Pool, because I was working knee-deep in snow unblocking drains around the venue.

She returned, as pleased as Punch, with the worst tickets we've ever purchased (behind a stack of amps); whereas I'd been asked in for a cuppa to get warm by "The Pool's" whiskey-nosed janitor, and watched Page playing twin-necked guitar sound-checking a new song - Stairway to Heaven (before radio killed it).

My flukiest ticket was in the 80s: driving from Scotland to Yorkshire on the off chance of talking my way into a sold out show by Van Morrison, arriving at the ticket office the same time as a young Van fan waving two pick-up tickets, adamant he'd only ordered one. After a cash swop at the bar, we sat together and watched "the Man", firm friends.

A far cry from the hours spent alone in my room online purchasing tickets to Adele's recent NZ shows for my son and daughter - a tour of duty unlike anything I've endured (longer than running marathons); a feat that might help health providers understand the impact of online trading - the virtual chatter, loneliness, bullying and frustration - on our mental health.

Ticket sites could Skype everyone queued on-hold for a chat; with venue appraisals on Twitter. Then we could see each other at work, home or in our favourite cafes, amid the mêlée for tickets.

It might work like the 70s, with punters engaged before a show, negating any acrimony on the night; weeding out any spoilers and loners who simply turn up to events to get stoned.
Promoters insisting, "the Mission is the greatest outdoor venue in the world," is part of their grand plan.

The World's a big place.

I went to the Dixie Chicks there armed with the knowledge of four previous shows; from Ray Charles in '94 to Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton (my only show seated with two arrests behind) and John Mellencamp's substitute, Tom Jones.

Nothing had changed.

I trekked up the hill tiptoeing around sleeping day-trippers minutes before the Dixie Chicks went on; didn't drink, use a loo or buy food. A great show over, I walked out along a sheep track, slipped once, then drove home.

Plumbing, more lights and some aesthetically pleasing Mission terraces (should they choose to fix it), might shore up their claims of inclusivity, making sure all ticket holders feel involved.

Graham Chaplow is a retiree, volunteer teachers' aide and award-winning writer.
Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz.