David Lister: Whatever the art form, it's an obscene amount to pay

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The Independent Online

Suddenly the Royal Opera House looks downright cheap. Britain's biggest rock venue, the O2, is charging up to £400 for a pair of "Platinum" seats to see bands like Simply Red or Supertramp.

Heaven knows what a "Platinum" seat will cost when baby boomers' favourite Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, brings his concert of the band's classic album The Wall to the venue next spring.

Rock music is not alone in charging extra for so-called Platinum or premier seats. A number of cinemas now do it. A number of West End theatres do it. But it is a mighty strange practice. These seats are no different to seats alongside at a fraction of the price. And nowhere is the price differential more pronounced than at the O2: in the case of Boyzone, £175 for a Platinum and £40 for the non-Platinum just behind.

It's hard for the average punter to discern through all the technicalities who actually sets these charges – the venue, the promoter or the ticket agency.

It doesn't really matter: £400 for a pair of tickets for any art form borders on the obscene, especially at a time of recession. Of course, these are market forces and if the market will bear such grotesque ticket prices then good luck to those charging them, and more fool the people paying them.

To pay up to five times the price of the seat in the next row, without so much as a glass of wine in the interval thrown in, shows that too many rock fans have more money than sense. And the introduction of obscenely high prices for a gig is bad news for fans.

Platinum areas spread. An only slightly less expensive sub-Platinum is unlikely to be far away. In a venue which already gives booking and hospitality privileges to customers of a certain mobile phone network, this is just another example of creating different classes of gig-goers.