I was prepared for it. A few years back my Poor Wife and I saw Lyle Lovett at Clowes Hall on the Butler campus, and ever since then I've been on their mailing list. I got the 2005/2006 calendar about a week ago, and I flipped through it idly. The schedule is generally pretty dance heavy, since they've got a fairly serious dance school, and there's an assortment of Indianapolis Opera Company performances, and some theatre and a speakers series. Generally there'll be one or two pop artists I'd be happy to see at half the price and that aren't really my wife's cup of eggnog. Somebody might get written on our calendar in a sort of half-assed, what-the-hell-if-we're-dying-to-go-out way that we know won't come to pass.
So I'd flipped through the first five pages when I saw him, looked at the date, and saw the price. And so I was prepared when the ad turned up in the Sunday Star. ELVIS COSTELLO. Saturday, October 15 8:00 PM And immediately underneath: $100.
Yeah, there are cheaper tickets--down to 25 bucks for the third balcony. I don't sit in cheap seats anymore. I don't sit back beyond row 15 or so. At my age if I'm going to a show it's to see the show, not to be there, if you know what I mean.
But $200 for a couple of ducats? For a solo performance? Richard Thompson was in town last month for $30 (we had to pass; it was a school night). Don't get me wrong--in a just universe El'd get the highest ticket prices in the business (and the Strolling Bones would be playing high school auditoriums), but still. It feels more like tribute rather than a ticket price.
I've seen the man every time he's come to Central Indiana, or a grand total of three. Each show was great, and the first one is my fondest concert memory of all time. It was really painful to see those three digits there and say, "No way." And the most painful part is there wasn't any hesitation. In the old days I'd have sent the phone bill in late or lived on American cheese for a week if necessary. Now, when the money really isn't any object, I balk. What the hell happened?
I got to wondering what might induce me to pay $100 for a show. Elvis and the Imposters with Gillian Welch opening? Probably. Tom Waits with his Big Time-era band including Marc Ribot on guitar? I imagine so. Anything else would require certain performers of my choosing rising from the dead.