Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 4, 2013

The Rolling Stones at 50: Still rocking, still terrific

Niagara Gazette — The classic cultural question, a way of discerning someone’s musical philosophy, goes something like this: “Beatles or Stones?” For me, it’s always been the Rolling Stones.

Fifty years after the British band first earned attention for their raw and energetic rock and roll, and even after key personnel changes, the Stones are still drawing sold-out crowds wherever they play. Their latest tour is called “50 & Counting … The Rolling Stones Live.” For months, it’s been the hottest ticket in North America. I’ve seen them numerous times in concert, and I’m always willing to see them again.

When the band announced a limited number of dates for this spring, Saturday, May 25 in Toronto was on the list.

My friend Gautier Coiffard grew up in Grenoble, France listening to his father’s Rolling Stones albums. Pierre is a devoted Stones fan. Gautier had never seen them, and if we got tickets for the Toronto show, he would come to Buffalo. Because of complaints over the handling of tickets for the three 2012 winter shows in Brooklyn, New York and Newark, New Jersey — all tickets sold within seconds and most ended up on aftermarket sites for thousands of dollars — the Stones instituted a special lottery for the May and June concerts.

Five hundred pairs of tickets would be available for each concert at $85 per ticket. As soon as the pairs were gone, the lottery stopped. The rules were that you had to buy two tickets, no more, no less. Seating was random; you didn't know where you would be sitting until the night of the concert. No refunds or exchanges. And, once you picked up your tickets at 6 p.m. for the 8 p.m. start, you had to enter the arena immediately. While also trying for regular priced tickets ($147 to $597, plus fees), and thanks to my friend’s computer wizardry, we scored two very good $85 seats for the Toronto show.

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