B y Scott Saalman
I’m still reeling from the sting of Sting right now.
Sting, as in the world-famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter who once fronted one of the most arresting bands of the day (back in my day at least) before embarking on a successful, decades-long solo career.
Sting, as in one of the few remaining performers I still hope to see live before, well, one of us is no longer alive. Neither of us is getting younger. Sting is 13 years older, but something tells me he’ll still be around when I’m not. He’s a healthy looking soul, which probably has something to do with all that reported tantric sex (I bet it’s good for his pores too).
The sting I’m feeling stems from failing to secure tickets for Sting’s upcoming May 8th performance in Carmel at The Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, the 1,600-seat, crown jewel of Midwestern concert halls. I take my concert losses very personally.
My wife Brynne loves Sting. We appreciate both his solo and Police stuff. I was determined to take her to see Sting, because, well, every little thing she does is magic.
Last week, I first learned about Sting’s Carmel stopover. On Tuesday, at 10 a.m., I was ready to pounce during a presale opportunity being held prior to a public sale on Friday. Having someone of such a global stature as Sting performing in an intimate, all-seats-are-good-seats venue like The Palladium would be a surefire recipe for a supersonic sellout, I reasoned. I would have to act fast. Display my cunningness.
Pre-planning for the pre-sale, I tried to gain an edge by paying $45 to join the official Sting fan club, which entitled me to a pre-sale code, thus “possibly” being put on the fast track for tickets. It was the most desperate measure I have ever taken to buy tickets. I’ve never joined any kind of club before, not even as a kid. Suddenly, at 57, I was akin to being a barely pubescent squealing girl joining a fan club for The Beatles in the 1960s. I almost felt creeper-like. What can I say? — other than I had a personal quest to take Brynne to see and hear Sting.
The $45 pre-concert-ticket-buying expenditure did inflate my confidence. I was in the CLUB! Does that make me a Stinger? Surely, I was a shoo-in for Sting tickets. My excitement got Brynne’s hopes up.
I’ve seen more concerts than one human being should be allowed, and typically, I have been one step ahead of the secondary-market ticket resellers who inflate the prices to crazy levels. I still don’t understand how this is legal—it’s certainly not fair.
Only once before during my almost 40-year-concert-going history had I failed nailing desired tickets, those being for Van Morrison at the Chicago Theatre sometime around 2010. Van’s shows, then and now, sell out quickly, so imagine my initial excitement when I actually had momentary rights, via Ticketmaster, to two seats. Imagine then my disappointment when the system timed out before I could find my wallet and enter, with shaky fingers, a valid credit card number, thus losing my place in the long virtual line. I retried, but the show was sold out. The loss of Van Morrison tickets came with a sting, too—hell, here it is 2022 and I’m still writing about it. A few years later, I was fortunate enough to see Van play in a 300-seat resort in Trim, Ireland. I still pinch myself over my good luck to have seen him in his Irish homeland. It was a dream concert.
Twice, Brynne and I actually had tickets to highly-anticipated shows that were ultimately canceled. In 2018, we bought tickets to see Randy Newman at Lincoln Center in NYC, a show Newman had to cancel due to knee surgery. My first thought was, “Are you telling me Randy Newman plays piano with his knees?” In 2020, we had tickets to see John Prine in Louisville. Sadly, Prine died of Covid-19 in the early part of the pandemic. We both still mourn not over the cancellation of a concert but over the music world’s tragic loss of arguably the best singer-songwriter ever. Even now, Prine’s passing makes it hard for me to listen to his music. It’s just hard. It’s just too hard to explain. At least I was fortunate enough to have seen four Prine concerts.
But back to the sting of Sting. As you already know from the fourth paragraph, despite spending $45 for a pre-sale passcode, Sting tickets eluded me. As expected, the show sold out in what seemed like a mere eyeblink in time.
I actually stooped low enough to search the online reseller sites. Sure enough, tickets originally going for $100 at the venue had more than tripled in price. As much as I would love to see Sting, I refuse to condone the StubHubs of the world.
I guess I’ll just live with the sting and remain disconcerted over a concert, as well as accept that I am $45 poorer for the failed effort. Perhaps—at least for now—it’s my destiny to be the king of pain.
Contact Scott Saalman at email@example.com