“Are you looking for a ticket mate?” Well, of course I was. Now then, if, as Samuel Johnson asserts, patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then flogging event tickets for a dirty great mark-up on the black market must come a very close second. Mind you, they didn’t have Seatwave and Viagogo back in the good doctor’s day. Had they have done, I dare say he would rethink his famous pronouncement.
I’m stood outside the Ancienne Belgique, the centrally located venue for the latest leg of Noel Gallagher’s tour on a chilly Sunday evening in Brussels. In this city noted for its fabulous beers, I am drinking in the last chance saloon. Swallowing my pride, and draining my metaphorical glass of the last bittersweet drops of common-sense, I nod in hesitant resignation.
“€100 alright mate?” Well, frankly, it’s a bally outrage, but, I’ve got no choice. It gets worse. A cursory glance at the ticket reveals I have just bought a freebie ticket. The penny drops, the seller’s voice is pure Burnage.
“You know Noel then?”
“Yeah, he’s an old mate. He looks after me.”
Clearly. Everybody’s on the make.
“So, you’ve not paid for this then?”
“Ha ha! No, Noel’s a good lad, always looking after his mates.”
I laugh at the perverse nature of this transaction. Then I swore at the bloke. Which, I reckon, I was fully entitled to do at this juncture.
Once inside the venue’s foyer, you can’t move for boozed, up coiffured types in Fred Perry shirts, skinny jeans and mock-Manchester accents. It’s like being in the away end at a football match. Stepping into the hall itself, there’s a capacity crowd in jammed into this intimate little venue. It’s standing room only and it is absolutely magical. “Manchester La La La” is interspersed with “Bedfordshire La La La”. A bemused local joins in with the Bedfordshire chants, he doesn’t understand but he looks happy to be part of it all. The place is rocking before our hero makes it to the stage.
Classic Oasis standards Champagne SuperNova and Digsy’s Dinner are served to the masses who lap them up. Recent hits are lustily roared back by the crowd, who, although lacking in lyrical know-how make up for it through pure gusto. The concert ends with Masterplan. I take the time to make some sense of what I have been privileged to be part of this evening. He’s still got it.
“€100 alright mate?” All things considered, it is an absolute steal.