Seeing Sade Live: The Tickets Are Too Damn High!

Still looking good, but sounding good? It's going to cost you to find out.

Knowing how much of a fan I am, my sister sent me an e-mail to tell me Sade is coming to Columbus in July for the first time since her September 10, 2001 concert.   I hope she puts on a good show (and from seeing her in the past I have no doubt she will) and I pray there’s no day after as historic for all the wrong reasons as the last time she came to town.

However, I won’t be at there to find out.

I like Sade’s Soldier of Love but I do not love Soldier of Love. I hoped maybe over time I would, but nope.  One year after its release it’s still just second-rate Sade and when you’re demanding hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars to see someone perform songs from a “okay” album live,  I had better be truly, madly deeply in love with it.

There’s no love at these prices.  If gas is too damn high and groceries are too damn high and the rent is too damn high, the best seats in the house .

The tickets at Value City Arena start at $109 for a seat in the terrace and top out at $449 to sit somewhere in section F3.   It’s not the nosebleed section, but it’s certainly not close enough to count Sade’s nose hairs either.

If I’m dropping over $900 bucks for two tickets I’m going to expect a backstage pass and champagne with Sade after the show.   Of course, maybe I’m just cheap.  The going price for a “top” ticket at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tops out at a measly $5,292!

When you look at the seating chart at Value City and what is unavailable to the public the first question is why paying top dollar doesn’t get you the best seats?

The answer of course is, the best seats never are available to the public.  The ticket brokers offer what is known as “pre-sale” tickets, but that won’t guarantee you a front-row seat .  The big shots and insiders get those.  You can’t touch this.

A fan on the Sade website explained how this process works (or in the case of the fan, doesn’t).

A credit card company or a fan club or Facebook is allotted a certain group of seats for a pre-sale. Every seat is pre-determined and chosen ahead of time. They then get the right to sell those exact seats in their pre-sales. Usually, there is a selection of every type of seat in the group – some good ones, some average ones, and some that aren’t so great.

Participating in a pre-sale doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get great seats. It just guarantees that you’ll get seats from that alloted group. They can work great for concerts that will sell out in minutes during the general sales, but if a concert isn’t going to sell out instantly, you can often get seats that are just as good or better in the general sale. It’s a little riskier though.

Even by participating in fan club presales, I’ve still never been able to get first, second, or third row for any concert ever. I talked to a Ticketmaster representative about this, and she told me that’s because those seats are generally held back for super premium sales, contests, well-connected people, etc.. They are near impossible to get in a pre-sale of any sort.

Hang on to your love? Hang on to your wallet is more like it.

The bloated price of a concert ticket can be blamed on many factors, but often its the artist themselves who take the hit.  Google “ticket prices” and a lot of pissed-off facts roar back in response.  Even on Sade’s official site one fan wrote,  “I, too am appalled by how much Sade concert tickets are. Her last show at Madison Square Garden was so good and I was really looking forward to seeing her again someday. But this seems like she’s trying to make up money from years of not earning. A lot of her fans won’t be able to pay this, and some of those who can will be disgusted to do so. Not cool, Sade. Don’t say “everyone” is doing it, because they’re not. I don’t want to assume you’re greedy, so I’ll believe you got in some trouble with a bookie or something like that instead.”

According to an ABC News report, with the collapse of record sales, artists now make up to 62 percent of their income from touring.  They have every incentive to keep the cost of a ticket high. That isn’t entirely without justification.  When Sade takes the stage it’s not as if  she strolls to the microphone wearing torn blue jeans with a guitar and a couple of backing musicians.    It’s a production putting on a major show and it takes lots of money to put it together, move it from city to city and employ anywhere to 50 to over 100 supporting staff.   Big acts put on big shows and demand big bucks. Cheap, it is not.

Downloading–illegal and otherwise–has reached right into the artist’s pocket.  Radio and record companies no longer break a new song or sell albums in the way they once did.   There is a generation of consumers whom only listen to singles, not albums and they have grown to expect the music should be made available to them as cheap as possible if not totally free.

But that’s no justification to gouge the fans $449 for a freaking two-hour concert.  The price is ridiculous.   For that kind of paper, I don’t want to see a one-hit wonder like John Legend as an opening act.   Throw in Stevie Wonder and Prince and I might be able that kind of outlay.  The operative phrase there being, ” I might.”

It’s not as if Sade is constantly on the road.   After a decade of silence, she dropped Soldier of Love, but then took another year  before going out to tour behind it.  To fill that lay-off, a new best-of CD,  The Ultimate Collection (featuring a Jay-Z 🙄 rap on one track) drops in May just before the America tour kicks off June in Baltimore.  That’s kind of weird, but then Sade is a weird kind of artist.

Unlike Kiss, the Eagles or the Rolling Stones, bands whom are always threatening that the next tour will be the last tour,  with Sade its more likely when she walks off the stage you won’t soon be seeing her again.   Simply cranking out the old hits  for big bucks has never seemed to be her prime motivation.

Which is not to say even Sade is immune to holding out the teasing temptation, “Well, are you sure you don’t want to see me one last time?”

Yes, I would like to see Sade one more time.  No, I won’t pay more for a couple of tickets more than I pay on my monthly mortgage.

I’ve seen Sade twice before.  It’s going to hurt a bit knowing she’s in town and I’m not there, but if I don’t see again I’ll take a Gloria Gaynor approach to it:  I will survive.

It’s never as good as the first time anyway.

"$449 for a ticket? Sure, I'm worth it."