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Dear Bono, if all we need is love, why charge such high prices for your gigs?

Published 14/11/2015

Costly concert: U2’s expensive tickets could have bought refugees a boat
Costly concert: U2’s expensive tickets could have bought refugees a boat
Madonna

We were waiting for Bono to appear - with his bouffant hair and his Cuban heels - at the O2. Ticket prices for me and some friends, I'll admit, had been idiotically expensive. They would not merely have fed a boat of Syrian refugees, they would have paid for a small seaworthy ferry and an engineful of diesel, too.

Nevertheless, I bought U2 tickets seven months ago. Three Old Fashioned cocktails and an earnest revisit of The Unforgettable Fire album had led me to believe this wouldn't just be a great night out, but more akin to a noble, life-enhancing quest. Plus, I've always had a soft spot for them.

It was immensely funny watching dipsticks trying to remove the free U2 download from their Apple devices last year in order to signal displeasure at Bono's tax affairs.

But how many tours do U2 still have in them? I plod ever-closer to death and so do they. Imagine if I don't buy U2 tickets and then The Edge hangs up that mottled woollen beanie hat for good? But that's how stadium ticket-buying gets you, each and every time.

Madonna - God love her - has flogged tickets for her previous three globe-trekking enormodome tours via the sheer power of sentimentality and fan FOMO alone. (That's Fear of Missing Out for my readers who missed out on FOMO). Not from anyone's desire to see True Blue noodled through on an acoustic guitar.

Nevertheless, I've shunned Madonna's new Rebel Heart tour. I can't say this has been easy. Like all the behemoths of rock and pop, she seems oddly important to my existential inner workings.

Madge and her conical boobs made me who I am, therefore, part of me feels duty-bound to give her £165 three times a decade to endure an a capella Papa Don't Preach and Dress You Up performed solely on cowbells.

The Ticketmaster website, I now realise, should probably be fitted with a breathalyser. Or at least a benevolent, motherly sounding lady who will telephone me at 2am from a call centre to say, "Oh hello Miss Dent. Now can I call you Gracie? Ah, Gracie, we see you've just spent £388 on two tickets to see Tom Petty.

"Now, have you been drinking gin and tonics and watching his 1981 duet with Stevie Nicks on YouTube? Oh we thought so."

"Yes," I'd mumble sheepishly. "Now," she'd say, "We'd like you to name six tracks off Tom's 13th studio album Hypnotic Eye before we can process this transaction." But this hasn't happened yet. So, there I was at U2 waiting for Bono, whom I still quite fancy - as I did in 1982, when he looked smoking in a black singlet and black denims, with a sexy home-streaked mullet.

This was before 1988 and the Rattle and Hum period when they all began dressing like actors in a Disney theme-park Spaghetti Western experience.

I can't see very much of 2015 Bono, because a very tall man in front of me, dressed in a shiny suit like a regional bank manager, is filming on an iPhone 6.

His wife and seven-year-old child are standing beside him thrusting identical iPhone 6s in the air, documenting similar fuzzy, unwatchable bragging-rights dirge to delight no one. Little Jonty - they're always called Jonty - is standing on his £183 seat. I'm guessing the man's family are there via blackmail. Something like, "Of course you can go to your noisy rock concert. As long as you take us. We can make an evening of it. We can go to Chiquitos for a nacho platter beforehand. And we can leave before the end if Jonty gets sleepy."

There is nothing rock 'n' roll about stadium rock: the pre-show Wagamama Yaki Udon and the All Bar One Pino Grigio stampede; the U2 merchandise coffee mug stall; the public transport backlog and the official council-authorised busker; the rush before the final encore to avoid the snarl-up on the motorway and bored children who should have been left with babysitters.

Predictably, after four songs, Jonty made a nest of coats, snuggled down and attempted to insulate himself against Bono's monologue about his mother Iris's fatal aneurysm in 1974. This was followed by a 20-minute-long, multi-media bombardment of Bono's feelings on the refugee crisis. This was - I paraphrase - "Let's get rid of borders, man, and love each other".

I could have done with Bad, or New Year's Day, or Lemon, during this bit. Finally, Noel Gallagher appeared to jam through All You Need Is Love. I'm not entirely sure this is true.

I have tried living on love and it gets very old, very quickly. Living on money is far preferable. Clearly, Bono agrees with me at some level. That's why it was £183 a ticket.

U2 play the SSE Arena on Wednesday and Thursday

Belfast Telegraph

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