...are releasing a new album -- Snakes & Arrows -- on May 1 (and what a great date that is, for me, as will hopefully become apparent tomorrow, here). They're also touring again, and visiting Europe.
I've been a Rush fan since 1981, when I was in the last class of 'Atheneum' (the highest level of Dutch high school in those days), when the local café -- we drank mostly beer there, no coffee -- was playing Moving Pictures more than any other album. Circumstances prevented me from seeing them on the Moving Pictures tour, but I did see them on the Signals and Roll the Bones tours when they visited Holland (and missed the Hold Your Fire tour by one day after returning from abroad), and when they released Vapor Trails and weren't coming to Europe, I decided to see them in Toronto: bought a ticket via teh intarweb, arranged a flight through accumulated frequent flyer miles, and saw them in Toronto on July 17, 2002. And even met another Dutch friend who had flown over just for that.
Then they did come to Europe on their 30th Anniversary tour, and I went to see them both in Germany (Oberhausen) and Rotterdam. And getting tickets for these shows was fantastic.
In the old days, in order to get the best tickets, you went to go to the venue in question, or your nearest local post office where sales would start at 9 in the morning on a Saturday. And if you wanted to be sure to get those front seats, then you had to get in line *very* early -- like the evening before -- with your sleeping bag, lots of beer, and food (optional). I've done that, with my brother, several times.
Enter the new century, and a superbly run fan club. The fanclub members (and registering as such on the Rush website is easy) get pre-announcements of the tour dates, and even the chance to order tickets one day before the official sell dates!
So in 2004, instead of dragging these aging bones to the venue or post office, I placed a call to Oberhausen on the Friday before the official sales, arranged tickets for my brother, his wife and me, in the office, and was done in two minutes during a coffee break.
For the Dutch shows, I took the Friday the presales begun off, sat myself before my computer just before 9 o'clock, and had tickets about 5 minutes later.
Chalk one up for progress!
Similarly for the Snakes & Arrows tour: last Friday I called the venue in Oberhausen at 9 o'clock, had to wait a couple of minutes to get through, and since they still had me listed in their system from last time (three years ago), I was done in 30 seconds or so.
Unfortunately, the only places where they do *not* do presale days for the fans this time are Scandinavia and Holland (thanks Mojo -- the Dutch live music monopolist -- but no thanks). Since we already had tickets for the nearest German show (about a 90 minutes drive), my brother and I decided to leave our sleeping bags where they were -- hidden in some closet -- and log in with the rest of all the Dutch Rush fans this Saturday morning at 10 o'clock.
In the first few minutes we couldn't get through, but around 10 minutes past 10 I had five tickets booked, paid, and downloaded (in Holland you can print out your tickets yourself nowadays: they have a unique barcode, and that barcode is scanned on entrance. If someone had copied your ticket -- or you had given them the PDF file -- then the first one with that unique barcode comes in, and all the rest not, and might get charged for illegally trying to enter), and my brother was busy providing his payment details (there was some frantic cell phone traffic, as well). All set in about 15 minutes.
I'm not twenty anymore, and prefer 10 to 15 slightly stressful minutes behind my computer to spending the night in a sleeping bag in front of the Ahoy (the Dutch venue where they will perform) ticket office. I'm happy those days are past.
NB: even those not interested in the band should check out Neal Peart's autobiographical novel Ghost Rider: a harrowing account of the tragic events that disrupted his life, and how he survived ('learnt to live with' would be an understatement).