An Ode to the Humble Concert Ticket

Last night I found a load of old concert ticket stubs that I'd stored away for some reason. I found some of them I just quickly looked at and threw down, then others I held for longer, plucked a long lost memory out of the emptiness that is my brain and smiled for a while, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Sonic Youth, Living Colour, The Wonderstuff. The list goes on.

Within these was a ticket for Oasis at Knebworth Park, a quick scan of the date and my smile went into a frown. How the heck did 15 years pass so quickly? It was this week in that the event took place (August 10-11 1996).

The line-up was amazing, Cast, Dreadzone, Kula Shaker, Ocean Colour Scene, Manic Street Preachers, The Charlatans, The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy all making way for the Oasis to storm the stage around 9:00. I could waffle about the bands, but they were all great that day, it was just magic and we bounced around for over two hours with 165,000 mates. Nobody I saw inside the gates caused any grief and it goes down as one of the best gigs I’d ever been to.

So after a few moments of reminiscing I put the ticket down and then felt sad.

Over the last few years the humble concert ticket has become a computer-generated print out ticket with the excitement of an Easyjet boarding pass. It’s an A4 piece of white paper that is ripped as you enter the doorway then gone forever.

Lost is that one memento, that key to unlock those memories years later is no more. Technology again, for all its greatness has caused us to let go of something that for a lot of us was actually quite special (special enough to store them in a book to keep them flat and unfaded). A simple tiny coloured ticket, be it folded, ripped, soaked or hardly readable, it was the last piece of evidence to a great experience. Something for us poor kids to take back from the gig is gone.

For those who didn’t experience ‘the concert ticket’ they were amazing, colourful, expressive, explosive and just holding them in your hands felt like the event was going to be special. They were printed at a dirty smelly old school print works and they had to be sorted at the venue by hand. They even arrived looking a bit tatty on some occasions. They were alive!

My Arctic Monkeys tickets are now all computer-generated, white, with a great big O2 logo, as big as the Arctic Monkeys one. When did the venue outshine the artist? I’m not paying £50 to sit in an empty arena that’s for sure!

RIP the humble yet important concert ticket.