Concert tickets: how much is too much?

Last updated 09:57 08/07/2010

I've been to quite a few concerts and gigs since moving to New Zealand and the price of tickets often varies alarmingly depending on the act. This means that whenever an announcement is made about a gig and when tickets are going on sale, I never know if I'm going to be able to afford to go until the day.

When tickets for AC/DC went on sale last year, I felt it could be my first and last chance to see them in concert. I decided I could live with the investment of $160, though I was annoyed that ticket prices were later lowered to $100 when some fans like me had paid the full amount! However, I consider $160 to be pretty much my threshold for a concert ticket - and it has to be someone unbelievably epic.

Gaga  Paparazzi MonsterFor Lady Gaga's concerts in Auckland this March, I knew I'd have to factor in travel costs. I was worried that the cost of tickets was going to hurt my pocket in a big way. Also, just quietly, I have an issue about having to leave Wellington to see concerts - I don't like doing it, I always believe they should be coming here, but for Gaga I had to make an exception.

I was relieved the tickets were just $80 each for seating or standing and gladly paid that because I knew how awesome it would be - it was worth every cent. Unlike AC/DC or the Bon Jovi concerts, there were no annoying restrictions on cameras or recording devices. For that $80, we got the full "Monster Ball" concert that everywhere else did and not the abridged version most acts bring to NZ, and we could take all the photos we wanted. During the concert, she told the audience that her record company had wanted her to bring an abridged show and when they explained to her "Gaga, it's expensive", her response was, "then it's a good job I don't care about money". Gaga said she paid the difference of bringing the whole show here and whether this is true or a ploy to make her look more awesome, I don't know...and I don't really care. What I do know is, I got an awesome show for that $80. I'd already arranged to go on the second night with another friend and thought nothing of buying two reasonably priced tickets and going to both gigs.

I learned the other week that Opshop were playing a gig at Bar Bodega to promote their new album and was almost speechless when I discovered it was only going to cost me $40! I first saw them at a free last-minute gig at Waitangi Park a few years back when they had about 12 hours' notice to replace a band stranded in Australia. Their awesome stage presence stayed with me and I knew it would be worth going to. As it turned out, I would have happily paid twice that as they're an excellent band to see live and it's nice to see them having a bit of fun with their fans in a more intimate venue.

KT  TunstallAlso a few years back I heard that KT Tunstall was playing a gig at Bar Bodega. I had bought tickets to see her in London in 2005 but it ended up being the night after my dad's funeral so I missed it. So it was a wrong I always wanted to put right and it only cost me $25 - possibly because the new owner of Bodega used to be KT Tunstall's tour manager. However, I still think it was awesome that she took time out of her honeymoon to perform an impromptu gig with her husband. I always liked her music, but made sure I bought her albums after that.

This brings me to my latest ticket price fiasco, when Bon Jovi announced they would play here on December 4 and 5. I have a wedding to go to on December 4 so I was thinking about breaking my golden gig rule for the second time this year and going to Auckland to see them. That was until I found out the $200 price tag for having decent seats. I would have to pay flights and find somewhere to stay on top of that and I think it's a ridiculous amount of money. Michael Jackson's comeback concert tickets were cheaper than that! Is there anything other than refusing to buy them that can stop this hideous overpricing of concert tickets?

Bon  Jovi LiveI must confess, I was going back to the UK for the Michael Jackson concerts, which was much more expensive, and I did the same for the Spice Girls reunion concert a few years back. Yes, I know...not cool - but it just had to be done! I never saw the Spice Girls in concert and it had always been one of my unfulfilled teenage dreams. After that, my life felt complete and I feel no shame in saying so.

Personally, I think if Lady Gaga can afford to bring her epic and elaborate stage show for $80 each at Vector arena, then surely Bon Jovi could have hovered around the $120 mark since they're playing in a stadium? I might have bought tickets for that price, but I refuse to be taken for a ride - I'll keep my $200-plus-expenses thanks. Now, what to spend it on...

How much is too much to pay for a concert ticket? Have you travelled to another city to see a concert or would you only go to see them if they came to your area?

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Athene   #1   10:17 am Jul 08 2010

I saw that free Opshop concert at Waitangi park from the comfort of my own back yard ... the stage faced Mt vic and we got an awsome show without having to endure the throngs of 15 year olds ... now that would have been awful!

I saw the Foo Fighters when they came to NZ last. Me and sis did a road trip up to Akld and stayed with friends so the cost wasnt too high. I thought their tickets were a good price - like $102 or something - and it has to be one of the best concerts (the other was Michael Jackson in Auckland in 1996 - totally different to the Foos but still great) i have ever been to ... they played for 3 hours and did a 6 song encore. Ive never been to a concert where the crowd has been so loud and screamed for so long for no apparant reason, it was so cool. Dave Grohl is my hero and i want to marry him!

Darth Michael   #2   10:18 am Jul 08 2010

I'd pay $1000+ to see Pink Floyd live.

I'd pay $12.50 to NOT see Miley Cyrus.

As for the rest ... meh. I just think about how much chocolate I could buy for the price of a single concert ticket ;-)

As for traveling from Wellington to Auckland for a concert - I thought we'd built a wall through Hamilton, with high-heel-wearing security guards armed with cans of hair-spray and stressed-out Chihuahuas borrowed from Paris Hilton to keep you smelly hillbillies away...?

On to plan B. When you Wellingtonians next come to Auckland, can you please wear brightly-coloured t-shirts saying "I am a Painted Apple Moth" and wave to the DC3 plane when it flies over you? Thanx ;-)

Rabbit   #3   10:25 am Jul 08 2010

I paid $219 for pre-sale tickets to Yusuf Islam(Cat Stevens) here in Christchurch. Totally worth it for me as I'm quite the fan boy, and the seats were practically on his lap.

sher   #4   10:29 am Jul 08 2010

I live in Hamilton...I have to travel to everything as nothing comes here.I think $200 would be about my limit...hoping to get tickets to Paramore's welly concert tomorrow..concerts in AKL usually involve a day off work as well due to the tiredness of driving back to the tron afterwards.( a concert train would be awesome)

Jim   #5   10:29 am Jul 08 2010

How much is too much? Any ticket sold in NZ has always been too much. It's cheaper go to the other side of the planet for 3 weeks. You'll catch more quality acts in that three weeks than you'll see in NZ in 3 years. Including accommodation and travel expenses it will cost you less than attempting to see those acts in NZ.

bonjovigirl   #6   10:30 am Jul 08 2010

I know it is crazy. And reading your blog I now worry about my extravagance. I went to see Bon Jovi in Christchurch last time they were here and paid almost $200 per ticket, plus flights and accomodation. This time round, with no travel required I bought 2 tickets at a total cost of just over $660!!! I consoled myself, saying if I was gonns go it had to be great seats, and I wouldnt have to pay for flights this time.

lisa   #7   10:31 am Jul 08 2010

i thought leonard cohen was expensive at $140 ish for average seats(with a $15! booking fee wtf) but bon jovi seems excessive for what/who he is/was.

Thalia   #8   10:32 am Jul 08 2010

Ouchies $200 that is harsh considering they were here two years ago in CHCH of all places and it was cheaper than that.. not much cheaper I think but still cheaper.. I was gutted I couldn't go. This time I might.. if I can get a ticket.. after all it is on my birthday gotta have a little fun on ones birthday!

I agree about the exorbitant pricing.. There have been some concerts I would have got my parents tickets to as gifts for various things but at $200 to $400 a ticket I decided to pass and let them stay home.

When you think about it though.. concerts are smaller here than overseas.. 12000 at vector seems like a lot but when you play for crowds of 40-100 thousand in other venues then of course the tickets can be cheaper and you still make tonnes of money... so I guess for the leg of the tour to make any money with the cost of bringing stuff to NZ then I can sort of understand why the tickets can get so expensive. Its still annoying though. I can't comment on how much it costs to see local bands I guess some of that is money grubbing for small venues to make a few extra bucks.

samm   #9   10:34 am Jul 08 2010

I've travelled out of town close to a dozen times to get to a gig I was interested in (mostly to Auckland from Wellington).

How much I'll pay and how much it is worth is totally subjective, depending on how much you are into the act, and your expectations of the performance. I baulked at paying $160 for AC/DC, but seriously considered it for $100. I happily paid $120ish for Pearl Jam plus flights to Auckland last year. I paid $50 to go see Mark Lanegan at Bodega last week and was a bit underwhelmed (along with a few other punters I overheard). $30-$40 would have been a better price for that gig, especially when upcoming Shapeshifter and Shihad gigs are going for the same price and thus present much better value for money to me. Dave Dobbyn's $19.79 tour last year was probably the best cost/experience ratio I have seen lately after the steady decline of the BDO (beyond the free gigs I have been to which can't really factor into this discussion).

I'm also going to Bon Jovi at the end of the year, pretty much for the heck of it (not that into them beyond nostalgia, but it should be a lot of fun with the people I am going with. Besides, being from the Hutt it is practically compulsory). Your definition of 'good seats' appears to differ from mine Chaz, I paid a little less than half of the price you quoted. As long as I can see the stage I'm happy. Being at the concert is the main thing, I don't need to be in the front row anymore.

As an aside, from memory the tickets for the U2 ZooTV concerts here in 1993 were $65, which was well worth it. When they came back in 2006 the tickets I got were $99 (plus travel to Auckland, but a wedding wound up clashing with the date so I never actually got to the gig). I went to Dire Straits at Athletic Park in 1991, but didn't pay for the ticket so have no idea how much it cost.

late again   #10   10:38 am Jul 08 2010

I'm from Dunedin, we can't go to a concert unless we travel out. And i'm not arrogant enough to say i refuse to travel outside my 'area' to see gigs because they haven't come to my town. You do realise Aucklands population is 1/4 of NZ, compared to Wellington?


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