So here’s how it went:
When tickets went on sale for the May 25th Toronto show, I was lucky enough to snag a pair of those $85 “mystery” tickets. A bargain, compared to the $625 asking price for top tier tickets. With the $85 tickets, the caveat is that the seat location would be revealed when tickets are picked up the night of the show.
So my wife and I (seeing the Stones for the first time together; we each had seen them separately in the past) arrived at the Air Canada Centre and lined up with the rest of the holders of these tickets and waited patiently. Arriving at the front of the line, we were handed a sealed envelope from a pile of envelopes. And the winner is….? Section 323, row 14–waaaay up (six rows from the roof) and waaaay in the back. See the map below.
Well, crap. If you’ve ever sat in those seats you’ll know that the climb up and down the stairs once you reach those sections is steep and not for the vertigo challenged. And even once your seated, the down facing angle is a little off-putting for some, including us. So while I wasn’t pleased with the seats, my wife was less so. The angle was making her feel dizzy and certainly neither of us wanted that. So keeping in mind the old adage “if you don’t ask u don’t get”, we thought we’d take a shot and ask fan services staff if there was any possible way to exchange our seats for a pair that weren’t akin to being at the top of a ski hill. After a bit of a runaround (down to street level where we originally picked up the tickets only to be told, eventually, we needed to speak with fan services back on the 300 level), we discovered that we aren’t the only ones trying for an exchange. It probably happens all the time. (FYI, I never would have bought tickets voluntarily to sit up there. I don’t like the steep angle either, and I’m not one those who live by the “well, at least you’re in the building” credo. If I can’t be reasonably close to the stage and seated like a normal human being, then I won’t bother. Not even for (gulp) Springsteen.)
So…after waiting patiently by the fan services desk on the 300 level and speaking with two very nice staffers we were offered a pair of tix in section 321 and three rows lower. A bit of an improvement. Those tickets were turned in by a guy who needed an aisle seat because of a disability. The staffer said go inside and see if you like the seats, and if you do, they’re yours. Well, better than nothing, right? So I went inside to find our new seats while my wife stayed by the staffers desk to thank them for accommodating us. Turns out the seats were smack dab in the middle of a row. (“Pardon me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, I just need to get to those seats”….phew.) I was seated for about, oh…60 seconds…when my wife texts me the following:
“Floors come out now guest service. We have floor seats.”
Yeah, let that sink in a minute. I managed to text back “Wh”, which in my head I was saying “what the f***”. This then resulted in the reverse of (“Pardon me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, I just need to get to GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS ROW…)
See what happened was, as she was thanking those two nice staffers, a third staff member walked up to the desk and said he had a pair of floor seats up for grabs. He handed them to the original staffers, who then turned to my wife and said “Here. You want them?” Talk. About. Timing. So off we went, down to the floor. Instead of being in the 300s, we were now seated (thanks to a combination of perseverance by my rock star wife and sheer luck) in row 3 of the large floor section directly below section 119 .
And what about the show you ask? Outstanding. The Stones on this tour have done away with the massive stages and pyro that were a huge part of previous tours and opted for a bare bones stage, a catwalk for Mick to strut into the audience (which he did frequently) and a large screen. This time it was about the music, not the “show”. Keith, Charlie and Ronnie were in fine form as was Mick Taylor (Mick Taylor!) who’s been along for the ride and ripped through Midnight Rambler and came back for the night’s closer “Satisfaction” Special guest Carrie Underwood (yep) joined the band for “It’s Only R&R” and it was damn good. Special shout out to the Cawthra Park Secondary School Chamber Choir who joined the band for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Check out the setlist:
And here are a few brief video clips I shot with my iPhone. My ears are still ringing. What a night.