Forty-four years ago, the Rolling Stones played London’s Hyde Park. There was no admission charge, butterflies were released and Mick Jagger read a Shelley-poemed eulogy for the recently deceased Brian Jones. He later sang “love me, hold me” during the chorus of I’m Free, but if he were to sing the same song this spring and summer, he might as well add “pay me” to his melodic requests.
The Stones are returning to Hyde Park for the first time since 1969 for a concert on July 6, and on July 13. Tickets for the appearance range from $117 to $468, with VIP hospitality packages priced even higher.
Tickets for the two upcoming Stones concerts at Rogers Centre on May 26 and June 6 are similarly upscale, with upper level seats fetching $165 to $265, and lower-bowl and floor spots costing upward of $625. The band, celebrating its 50th anniversary, may have sympathy for the devil, but they seem to have little of it for their recession-wracked fans.
Special packages at the Rogers Centre include a “hospitality” deal that includes a floor ticket, a buffet dinner, a tour program, a collectible laminate and an “exclusive merchandise item.” Given that the seat itself is worth $625, the uninspired package of “extras” will cost the concertgoer nearly $1,400. For that kind of money, the exclusive merchandise should be a vial of Keith Richards’s blood and a group-signed Depends undergarment.
For $1,500, a “Tongue Pit package” is offered. It is similar to the aforementioned combo, though with no beer, wine or shepherd’s pie provided. The Stones pocket your money, sticking a collective tongue out at those rich enough to afford the gouge.
“It never occurred to me why people should pay,” Jagger explained in the 1969 documentary The Stones in the Park. “You can get all these people, all at once, they don’t have to pay. They’re all going to come and have a better time.”
The singer with rubbery lips and elastic economic ideas has changed his tune since 1969, but only somewhat. To the naysayers who don’t believe the well-past-it rockers have any business touring any longer or charging such exorbitant prices for their shows, remember what Jagger sang more than four decades ago: “I’m free to sing my song, any old time.” And isn’t that the truth.
The Rolling Stones play Rogers Centre, May 26 and June 6. 1-855-985-5000 or ticketmaster.ca.