Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt — two wonderful songwriters onstage, just them, their guitars and their stories. What a great chance to have a great time. And it will be if you have anywhere from $85 to $115.
That's roughly what you'll pay for a seat to the songwriters' Oct. 28 show at the Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium. Lowest-priced seats are $69, highest are $99, and that doesn't include Ticketmaster service fees, generally around $15 or so per ticket.
Those prices may keep away a lot of people who might go. They may have enough money to buy the tickets, but it could make that month's budget awfully tight. Or maybe they just can't see paying triple digits for a couple of hours of entertainment.
I'm not saying that Lovett and Hiatt don't deserve to get paid. Concerts and merchandise sales are pretty much the only way most music artists make money these days; album sales have dried up to the point of almost being an afterthought.
But even acts that are middle-of-the-pack in popularity can bring in five or even six figures for a single night's performance. Yes, there are some pretty hefty costs to running a tour, what with buses, sound and lighting equipment, road crew, hotels, meals and more. However, if you've budgeted well, at the end of the tour you'll have a lot more money in the bank than many of us.
Nor am I saying that the Walker Theatre doesn't deserve its share of the pie. The theater is cozy with only about 850 seats, but bills still need to be covered and employees need to be paid.
It's true, this kind of ticket pricing is not new; it began in 1994 when the Eagles returned on their Hell Freezes Over tour and top tickets were $100 each. Outrage was rampant, but the concerts all sold out. So, outraged or not, people still coughed up the cash.
But now those prices have filtered down to acts that, in the past, would have more reasonably priced tickets.
Singer/songwriter Ray Lamontagne is coming to the Tivoli Theatre in November. Like the Lovett/Hiatt show, it's just him and a guitar. He's a good act, but the best tickets are $84.50. Is he $84.50 good?
Classic rockers Kansas will be at the Tivoli on Oct. 4. I saw Kansas a couple of times in the 1970s. Their Atlanta show on the "Leftoverture" tour was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. But they want $99.50 for the top ticket at the Tivoli. And original vocalists Steve Walsh and Robby Steinhardt and original guitarist Kerry Livgren are no longer even in the band.
Joe Bonamassa is a terrific blues guitarist, but when he comes to Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 4, the top three tickets are $149, $125 and $99. Whoa!
The same is true for me. I'll pay hefty prices a couple of times a year to see my favorites. But there are several other acts each year that I would love to see in concert but, as much as I love live music, I'm simply not going to pay around $200 for my wife and I to see them.
Maybe my loss.
Contact Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.