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Queuing for Leonard Cohen tickets: a 'local' failure

Laura Marsden falls outside the post code lottery of the Manchester Intenational Festival

Published on May 30th 2008.


Queuing for Leonard Cohen tickets: a 'local' failure

On Tuesday the MEN announced that 50 pairs of Leonard Cohen tickets would go on sale this Thursday morning to residents of the ‘Manchester city area’ for the 'reduced' price of £75, presumably in a measure to keep the spendthrift residents of Openshaw happy. Elsewhere they are going for two hundred notes. The June gig is a 'trail-blazer' event for Manchester International Festival next year. It’s a ‘unique opportunity’ says the MEN, coming up with that phrase for the first time ever.

Ant and Dec looks at his little hand drawn map of Manchester done in felt tipped pens. The acceptable post codes are highlighted. I try to sneak a look but he flinches quickly and holds it close to his chest.

I stand in line along with twenty or so other local types. Here we all are. Our local inbred innards all wrong. With hairy backs and faces like the boz-eyed banjo boy in ‘Deliverance’, our horned fingernails clutch at local utility bills and passports. We are the unique opportunists. We are so local.

As well as watching fellow locals, I am reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy which is (briefly) about a man and his young son walking across a post-apocalyptic America. Cannibalism and savagery have taken hold. Basic survival is almost impossible. But right here and now, I wonder, how far would these local people go for Leonard Cohen tickets? It is slightly chilly for May. They’d probably be willing to get cold for a bit, waiting around. Maybe they’d have camped out if there were more of them. Perhaps they’d get a bit peckish. But they’re not gonna start committing atrocities. Sainsbury’s is just over the road for God’s sake. And they’re Leonard Cohen fans. Civilised.

Someone in front yells to his friend ‘Bacon and Egg McMuffin’. Hungry already eh? He’s a tout. He has that touty look: grubby fingers and a rat’s tail, jittery movements. Trackie bottoms tucked into local socks. ‘Bacon and Egg McMuffin.’

But lo! What’s this? A sign has been pinned up stating that tickets will only be sold to people with Manchester City council tax statements and photo ID. The touts disappear. I’m nearing the front of the queue. Bollocks! My bill says Salford! Bum nuts! But my post code is M3 and I only a couple or so hundred metres from the Manchester City Council boundary so it’ll be ok. It's pretty much the city centre. Right?

As I get to the front, a distressed lady is pleading with the man on the door, a Palace Theatre employee who resembles both Ant and Dec. “But look, it says here Middleton, Manchester,” she implores, pointing at her water bill. The postcode is a Mancunian one. Ant and Dec ignores her and turns to me with a large, insincere smile. I show him my council tax bill and sort of half bite my lip and cock my head to one side in, what I imagine, is a really cute way. I want to cover up where it says ‘Salford’ with my thumb as if it’s an out dated bus pass and I’m a student chancer.

Ant and Dec is wearing a powder pink fake satin tie. “No this won’t do,” he says. “It stated clearly in the paper that you had to have a Manchester council tax bill.”

The lady from Middleton butts in: "No it didn’t.”

“Yes it did.”

“Do you want me to go and get a paper?”

“It said ‘Manchester city area’,” I say. “I live just off off Trinity Way, near the Arena. It’s about seven minutes (on foot) down there.” I point, pointlessly, down Peter Street. The city AREA. What is area? "Look, my postcode is M3 – that’s gotta be a city centre post code right?”

Ant and Dec looks at his little hand drawn map of Manchester done in felt tipped pens. The acceptable post codes are highlighted. I try to sneak a look but he flinches quickly and holds it close to his chest.

What can I say? It’s a classic case of cartoon style 'But…but but butting….' (exasperating eyes and arms outstretched) 'but but but……‘

But but what exactly? But I really like Leonard Cohen…..but honestly I’m really local….and I only live seven minutes down there (on foot)…..but? It all trails off into nowhere.

I skulk toward the library with the lady and her son.

”I think it’s disgusting,” she says,“it stinks.” She mutters something about contacting the council. Her son is about 18 and looks really disappointed. His hands are deep in his pockets and he drags his feet a bit as he walks. He’s got headphones on. Probably listening to Leonard Cohen. That’ll cheer him up.

I wasn't feeling cheerful. The whole morning was a waste of time for many people who'd failed to check exactly what 'the Manchester city area' was. The International Festival might be part funded by the City Council, but it seems for this global event it's defining itself very very locally.

Confidential's notion of what Manchester really is was explored in this article last year: Let's Abolish Stretford, click here. We still stand by it.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

johnthebriefMay 30th 2008.

The entire run sold out months ago, and doesn't need any "buzz" - tickets are now changing hands on ebay for £200 plus. This was 100 tickets held back for local residents, although the definition of "local" seems to have been a little idiosyncratic

SharonMay 30th 2008.

Best line of the week: As I get to the front, a distressed lady is pleading with the man on the door, a Palace Theatre employee who resembles both Ant and Dec.

Drew PeacockMay 30th 2008.

I thought He'd died anyway.First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin Rd Edgeley.Very unfair though...next we'll only allow council staff to come from the City Council area..then we'd all be buggered...where would all the people who organise things go!?..ahem.

TraceMay 30th 2008.

Graham, you're old fashioned, more and more people get 'culture'. You're right to want the best because this tends to be the most interesting. But I hope I don't meet you and your monocle and cravat in an audience.

AnonymousMay 30th 2008.

These tickets were never more expensive that £75!!! Thats how much they were when they went on sale!

The ColonelMay 30th 2008.

The way the ticket sales have been handled is profiteering gone mad. Apart from the Palace Box Office it would seem that Ticketmaster - with its swingeing fees - has had an exclusive. Even to the point where Ticketmaster was running its own auction on some front stalls seats recently. So was the whole show sold out in twenty minutes? Garbage. This is a scandal that the Office of Fair Trading should be taking a close look at. The promoters in this instance are actually worse than the touts.

GrahamMay 30th 2008.

The festival is not for the people if by that we mean the lumpen masses not educated enough to understand most of the acts. It's a largely elitist celebration which adds to the prestige of the city. No problem with that there's enough football and the rest during the remaining 23.5 months.

JinkiesMay 30th 2008.

Drew, that's already the case with city centre parking ;)

DescartesMay 30th 2008.

Colour me cynical but that was about creating a buzz for tickets and getting some free publicity. Doesn't bode well for the event though does it, if only 20 or so people turned up for 50 tickets that were reduced by 60% I mean. Wonder how many are actually going to pay the full £200?

Eddy RheadMay 30th 2008.

Arent there laws against this sort of thing? This is how Hitler got started. Probably.

JohnthebriefMay 30th 2008.

I'm alright Jack :) and looking forward to a once in a lifetime opportunity. Big respect to the lady at the fromt of the queue who'd been there since 6am...

ChezMay 30th 2008.

You might notice that the £200 tickets aren't really selling on ebay at that price right now - that might be because for the last two weeks Ticketmaster have released further tickets for the shows in Manchester at the standard price.The Friday ones have gone (for the time being) but I've just checked & there are tickets available for sale for the Tuesday for the standard price.And the standard price is £75 for most seats, with a few of the restricted view gallery seats going for £50. So I don't know what all this nonsense about 60% reduced tickets is - the box office price is £75. Touts are scum, but if fans keep checking with Ticketmaster they might strike lucky.I bought great tickets off ebay for £100 each, ten rows from the front, so it's worth keeping an eye on ebay. It's a shame in some ways - I think alot of people now routinely buy more tickets than they really need & sell the 'spares' at inflated prices on ebay etc. If everyone stopped doing this, then greater numbers of genuine fans would be able to see the gig at reasonable prices.That's my tuppence worth!

JarvissaMay 30th 2008.

Nooo!!!! How did I not hear about this?!! I'm as city as it gets. Mind you I do already have tickets. At the back and behind a pillar.

roubiliacMay 30th 2008.

what's this rubbish of reductions? Ticketmaster had some on the site today at £75. That's what I paid on the day they were first released.

DescartesMay 30th 2008.

The article says the tickets for city centre people were £75, then it immediately says they're selling elsewhere for £200. Obviously I should have assumed eBay, but I didn't. Still, if they're £200 on ebay then this was a real chance to get tickets that are 60% cheaper. Does that clear up what I said? Wind your necks in and think a bit, if you don't, you're not (geddit).

AnonymousMay 30th 2008.

Hey, it was a red polyester tie not fake satin pink! I should be flattered that you think I am of the same age bracket as Ant and Dec ... yay!!! Was just following orders and you'll only ever buy tickets at face value with us when you pay cash for any show in our venues. We are not associated with outlets that charge more.

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