Springsteen ticket prices are latest to take off, but what’s a dream worth?

Would you shell out $1,000 to see your favorite performers, past or present?
Bruce Springsteen performs at the 15th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit at Alice Tully Hall in New York City in November 2021. He kicks off his world tour Feb. 1, 2023, at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Bruce Springsteen performs at the 15th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit at Alice Tully Hall in New York City in November 2021. He kicks off his world tour Feb. 1, 2023, at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [ JAMIE MCCARTHY | Getty Images North America ]
Published Aug. 12, 2022

A rumor turned out to be true. A good friend just spent $1,500 for a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. He purchased two tickets and admits to experiencing some buyer’s remorse. Would he buy the tickets if they cost $2,000 apiece? I wondered. There was a pause at the other end of the phone. Then, “No.”

Even a man who worships the Boss, and over four decades has seen him countless times at venues across the globe, has his limit. My friend explained to me that some tickets for the Feb. 1 show at Amalie Arena in Tampa were going for $4,000. He explained that Ticketmaster has an algorithm that takes advantage of the laws of supply and demand. As the rush for tickets gets more intense, the remaining tickets and better seats go higher and higher.

Some call this common practice in various industries “dynamic pricing.” Others call it “price gouging.”

The marketplace is a ruthless taskmaster. It presents all kinds of economic, social and ethical issues, and makes me wonder what famous and wealthy performers think about the financial burdens on fans.

Those questions are probably better answered by a music critic. My question is more personal and invites you to participate. What concert or musical show would you be willing to spend $1,000 to see in person? This is assuming that you have the money and won’t have to starve your kids or stop buying your meds.

Let’s not limit ourselves to actual events by living performers. You can choose a show from the past. You can put together a concert with performers who never performed together. You can bring the dead back to life.

Here are my top five:

The Beatles making their American debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964.
The Beatles making their American debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964.

A Beatles reunion: This must be every baby boomer’s dream. It would be cool enough to see a Paul McCartney concert or a Ringo Starr rock ‘n’ roll show. We can watch countless hours of Beatles performances on YouTube and in the recent documentary “Get Back.” But to have the Fab Four back together, maybe at the Cavern Club in Liverpool where you could almost reach out and touch them? That would be worth a thousand bucks.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: It would be hard to think of two vocal styles of jazz singing as different as those of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. That’s what makes their studio albums so engaging and, to me, thrilling. Go on YouTube and check out their rendition of “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” I would pay a thousand bucks to see them together in a live performance.

Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival: I was a skinny teen when the American folk music revival was at its height. I can name the stars who performed at live college concerts, broadcast on TV shows like “Hootenanny.” Remember Peter, Paul and Mary, The New Christy Minstrels, The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters and The Serendipity Singers? Judy Collins and Joan Baez? By 1965, a kid named Bob Dylan was hailed as “the voice of a new generation.” But when he played an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, some purists booed him. Without that moment, we might not have had The Byrds, or Tom Petty, or all the great music we now call folk rock. $1,000!

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The Glenn Miller Orchestra: It took a while for my parents to warm up to rock music. They were children of the big-band era and introduced me to the sounds of Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Films of those performances continue to enthrall me. I’m not sure there is a better swing dance band in existence. If you don’t believe me, listen to “In the Mood.” In my fantasy, Glenn Miller survives World War II, comes back to New York, gets the band back together and plays a free concert in Central Park. $1,000 was a lot more valuable back then.

The Day the Music Died: I was 11 years old in 1959 when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in an airplane crash in Iowa. Their last concert, also featuring Dion (who is performing to this day), has been re-created in movies and stage plays. In my dream, I am near snowy Clear Lake, Iowa. The rock and roll show raves on at the Surf Ballroom. But Holly is no longer 22. Let’s say that he is 44. He and Valens and the Bopper are performing all the songs they would have created if they had just decided to get on that tour bus rather than that small plane.

By the way, my daughter from Atlanta called this morning to say she and her friend scored four tickets for the February Springsteen show up there for $80 apiece. Maybe the seats are behind the stage, or up in the rafters, but consider this: For $1,000 you could take 13 of your closest friends.

Now it’s your turn. Name a show that would be worth a thousand bucks for you.