Another storey up in the tower of song

Alan Elliott
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Hey, that's no way to say goodbye. In reality, I'd have given anything for a curt "Box office, can I help you?"
It had to be the right number. What else would be continuously busy for hours, me dialling and redialling, but just like a bad dream, no one picks up on the other end?
I was tickled the other week, just after Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, to learn the grand master of song had announced a world tour. But I was absolutely amazed to hear, a morning or so later on the radio, that he would be including our neck of the woods in his travels.
Whoa, so long Celine, forget Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and whoever else has slipped through the concert-promoting hands of our people in the provincial capital. We have a legend coming our way, no shenanigans, no ongoing negotiations. Hopefully nobody will screw it up this time, etc.
Not only that, but the gospel according to St. Leonard will be at the Rebecca Cohn, a venue I have never attended. Cushy seats, a predictable atmosphere. To tell the truth, I'm getting a little old for this going to concerts in fields -- even really expensive fields -- and listening to guys with dyed hair and facelifts coaxing out power chords.
There's another thing: missed opportunities. Once before, decades ago, I had the chance to see Leonard Cohen. It was in my university days, and he was playing at a neighbouring campus. The trouble was, it was the night of my anthropology course, an entire week's worth of lectures packed into one long evening. I really didn't think I could duck out on a triple session for a concert.
Talk about dedication, eh? Now ask me what I can tell you about Cro-Magnon culture. Then see if I can recite a Leonard Cohen song lyric. Guess what won in the end.
So the other day, when tickets were to go on sale, I asked my wife what she thought. She said let's go for it. We expected a tough slog nabbing seats for the planned two-night run, a Monday and Tuesday. I used the phone, and Shunda was on the computer trying for online sales.
This turned out harder than the time a couple of years back for Rolling Stones tickets. No dice online or by phone. I had the local Halifax number punched in on one phone and the 1-800 on another. I'd hang one up, pick up the other, hit redial. Back and forth, nothing but busy signals. The ticket website was also on time-out.
Eventually, with a note of optimism, I suggested to Shunda that they might add more shows. After all, I reasoned, he wasn't playing again after Halifax until the following Tuesday in Glace Bay. We took a breather, with me giving it a try every now and again while tidying up the kitchen, but still no reply.
That got me thinking about these phone and Internet lines. Obviously someone's getting through. You would think, with the non-stop redials, the time sitting online, that eventually by the law of averages it would be our turn. Why are the hinterlands second class? Surely there's a way to queue up the thousands of callers under such desperate circumstances.
Later, Shunda called to say she'd just heard on the radio they'd added a third show. I tried again, still with no luck. But I turned on the radio and learned they'd added a fourth. I dialled again, same result.
Finally, toward suppertime, Shunda gave it another try online and, amazingly, got through. We learned to our delight that a fifth show had just been added, Saturday night. Hallelujah. We gathered our wherewithal and successfully got tickets: centre, about halfway back in the main section. I couldn't believe the turn of events, from a technological dead end to this: instead of dullsville Monday, tucked in a corner by the janitor's closet, great seats on a sinful Saturday night.
I don't know if some god of the meek and powerless was on our side, but surely there's a wry yet wistful song in all this.

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Recent comments

  • Dolores
    January 18, 2010 - 13:34

    You were very lucky, the only thing more frustrating than calling and getting the busy signal was calling and getting the automated message, meaning the calls weren't being picked up at all, which was my experience while trying to get through to one of the smaller venues. I didn't end up being able to get tickets at all and however tempting it might be to drop 5 or 600 dollars or more to bid for them at one of the bid sites there's no way my pocketbook can take the hit. So I will miss my last and only chance to see someone who has truely influenced me. :(
    From the wells of dissapointment

  • Larry
    January 18, 2010 - 11:59

    My experience getting Leonard tickets was very similar. My son was at home using the home phone and a cell phone. I was at work using the company phone and a cell phone. For three and a half hours we went at it. Finally, I went to the website and kept clicking until I got through, got the best tickets, and breathed a very big sigh of relief. Susan would have killed us if we'd failed. Our tickets are for Friday night.
    This past Saturday I sat at the computer for ever before finally getting Bob Dylan tickets -- upper bowl. Sunday I checked some scalper sites and the tickets I paid $49 for were selling for $200.
    You know why you couldn't get through -- scalpers by the boatload are sitting and waiting for the sale to start. There should be a law.
    Anyway, seeing 'St. Leonard' this time around will be the last chance for most of us. And maybe the last chance to see Dylan as well. I'm not saying I'm getting old, but I'm not saying Leonard or Bob are getting younger either.
    Take care and lets see a column on why I should go to Stanfest this year.