Fans pay the price for the rising cost of lavish live shows
Radiohead's expensive tour tickets are part of a wider trend
A fortnight ago, Radiohead announced their commendable partnership with an ethical ticket-exchange website, to prevent fans being ripped off. Then their promoters announced their steep ticket prices.
Tickets for Radiohead's concerts at Manchester Arena and the O2 Arena, in London, this October, are priced at £65 (plus £6.50 booking fee) or £47.50 (£4.75 booking fee). Disgruntled fans have been voicing their views on everywhere from Twitter to the NME's website. On Twitter, Nick Pettigrew said: "Apparently the 'handling fee' for Radiohead tickets is £13. I assume they're being printed on depleted uranium," while an outraged Molly said: "£70 for Radiohead tickets?! For that price, I'd need three albums played live."
When you hand over £65 for a gig, you might expect pyrotechnics, at least three costume changes (by a couture designer, of course), a band and full stage design. Few of which, I suspect, will be on the menu at Radiohead's upcoming shows. That's not to say that a Radiohead show is lacking in cutting edge visuals. Lighting expert Andi Watson has been creating Radiohead's mesmerising visuals since their 2000 Kid A tour. They're the best contemporary rock band, but it's a steep price.
Shows by superstar popstars always command a premium. For Kylie's last tour, Aphrodite Les Folies, tickets cost £65 (standing) and £85 (seated), but when you think that the whole production cost a $25 million, with more than 100 crew members and 25 trucks transporting the show around Europe, it seems more justifiable. Fans were treated to 200 costumes designed by Dolce & Gabbana, a cohort of dancers, and 30 high impact water jets.
Madonna's shows are always spectacular, but even she found herself forced to justify why fans should be paying up to £190 to see her upcoming Yankee Stadium show to promote her new album MDNA. "Start saving your pennies now. People spend $300 on crazy things all the time; things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together and come to my show. I'm worth it," she told Newsweek.
As for rock shows, U2's 360 Degrees tour of 2009 was one of the most impressive – and expensive – of all time. They built a massive four-legged supporting rig, nicknamed The Claw, which set a record for largest concert-stage structure, contributing to the tour's £75 million cost. Helpfully, Wembley Stadium tickets were tiered, from £30 to £150.
Prices mostly appear to be ruled by market forces. Jerry Seinfeld tickets were £70 to £100 last year – and that was to see one comedian and his microphone. It still sold out. Led Zeppelin, playing their first concert in more than 19 years at the O2 Arena in 2007, charged £125. Leonard Cohen's tickets were £60 plus for his 2008 O2 Arena shows, but it could have been the 73-year-old's final outing on stage. Tickets for Paul McCartney's show at the O2 ranged from £55 to £100. It's cynical, but being Radiohead's first UK tour in four years, promoters would have been aware that their devoted fans would feel obliged to pay out to see them, not knowing when they could see them again.
There are a few who keep prices down. Prince charged just £31.21, in reference to his 3121 album, for tickets to his 21-night residency at the O2 in 2007, with the booking fee capped at £3.50.
Radiohead, who declined to comment on their ticket prices, will always put on a tremendous performance, but fans are rightly upset at paying such increased fees to see them alongside 20,000 others. When you add the venues' £5 pints of beer, a night out becomes astronomical. Tickets are limited to four per person but who can afford more? While fans won't have to pay over face value for their tickets, they are paying a premium in the first place.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board and takes four gongs
The Apprentice 2014, episode 3, review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Apprentice 2014: Contestant James Hill outed as convicted criminal
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'