Friday 24 February 2017


Today tickets went on sale for the BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow due to run from 24-26 March this year. The radio station is bringing a host of excellent bands to a city that loves music and, on the face of it, the festival is an exciting prospect to say the least. The fact that they've got Depeche Mode as a headliner speaks to the pull of the event and the prospect of seeing Depeche in the best live venue on earth, the Barrowland Ballroom, is a prospect that has driven me beyond excitement since it was announced. Forgive me from this point on if the larger point is made from the perspective of the Depeche Mode fanbase rather than fans of the many other outstanding bands scheduled to appear.

The same excitement I felt was felt by most Depeche fans, especially those based in Scotland. I know plenty of them and they are all long term Devotees, each one scarcely able to believe that their band is scheduled to play the Barras. We're used to see Dave and co in stadia and arenas - we never expected to be able to see them in a venue the size of the Barras. It's a remarkable thing. Getting one of the 1500 tickets available was never going to be easy - nobody thought that - but the shambles that has occurred has made everyone angry, including those lucky enough to get tickets, amongst whose number I am fortunately counted.

The BBC6 Music site was clear about how tickets were to be purchased. It said:

Tickets are limited to 4 per event per customer and photo ID will be required to be presented by the lead booker upon arrival at the venue on the night of the show. The name of the lead booker will be printed on each ticket. The name cannot be changed once the booking has been made. 

The lead booker will be asked to present ID to gain entry into the venue. Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions may result in the customer's order being void. 

If you are booking more than one ticket your guests must arrive at the concert at the same time as you. Failure to do so may result in guests being turned away. 

Tickets cannot be resold or transferred under any circumstances. If the organiser reasonably believes this to be the case the barcode on the ticket will be voided, prohibiting entry to the concert.

Seems clear doesn't it? Buy tickets and you will have to be one of the people that turns up for the gig. You will have to show ID at the venue and your name will be printed on each ticket. The tickets that I got then will bear my name and I'll need to show ID to get me and my friends in. That seems sensible to me. Some gigs where this has been a proviso, such as U2 at the Hydro on their Songs Of Innocence tour, have been easily accessible without showing ID, but that can partly explained by the size of the venue. At the Barrowlands, with only 1500 people getting in, it should be feasible to check ID. The system then seems reasonably foolproof at first glance.

But here's the thing. While I and certainly every other Scottish Depeche fan I know were redialling the TicketWeb phone line endlessly and queuing on a site patiently awaiting some form of sign of progress this morning, tickets for this already massively oversubscribed gig were appearing on vile, fan ripping off, blood sucking, legalised touting bastard sites like Viagogo. Some tickets even appeared on that site BEFORE the official sale start time of 10 a.m. How on earth is that possible? How is it permitted?

How is it lifelong fans of Depeche Mode are denied the opportunity to even fairly compete with other lifelong Depeche Mode fans in the scramble for tickets? Why can't BBC6 Music or TicketWeb even attempt to tackle such rank inequity? It's frankly beyond contempt and the fact that a music festival set up for laudable reasons and promoted as a come one come all event is immediately subjected to the sort of blatantly fraudulent ticket scams that one has sadly come to expect from major events these days is an utter disgrace. 

This rant in itself is ultimately fruitless as this problem is not new, nor is it unexpected. It's horribly predictable and, really, I shouldn't be surprised and shouldn't be annoyed about it as vulture sites like Viagogo, Get Me In and Seatwave always win, they always scam genuine fans and rob many excited punters of the chance to see their favourite bands, despite threats of legislation and despite warnings about people not getting in etc with tickets purchased from these sources. This is what being a gig going music fan involves these days and there is little interest in doing anything about it, other than from music fans themselves.

And they don't seem to count one jot when it comes to buying tickets. Why should they? They're only the lifeblood of live music in the country.

I'm one of the lucky Depeche Mode fans today and I'm supremely grateful for that. I'm also grateful I'm not feeling the justifiable rage of those denied by the touts. None of them are moaning about genuine Depeche fans getting tickets. Far from it in fact, they are delighted for their fellow fans, happy in the knowledge that they will see Depeche Mode in as intimate a venue as they can. They are angry at the way they've been conned basically and rightly so.

So come on BBC6 Music and TicketWeb - justify this. How did this happen and how will you avoid it in the future? How will a music festival be given over to actual music fans rather than the shady grabbing hands who grab all they can?

How can you say that this festival is truly a festival for music fans?


An addition:

On Twitter at 5.32 pm on 24 February, spurred on by the many positive reactions to the post above,  I said:

OK here it is. When are up here for can we have a chat about ticket selling? Many would love to hear it explained

So do you fancy it? Happy to make myself available. I'll report back to fans here and on the blog. Get in touch

So will BBC6 Music respond? I'll let you know....


  1. Read this and its made things even clearer to me. Fucking disgraceful. I'm no bitter DM fan. I'm an increasingly bitter music fan. Gigging regularly since 1989. I can hardly get to see bands I want too these days. These are bands Ive seen 10, 20, 30 timez over the years. Only now does it become an impossible task.

  2. Pleased to hear u got a ticket david... no such success for me + friends. checked viagogo 20min after they went on sale, £30 briefs priced min over £600. Agree with the things u said...i just hang on and suffer well.. Congrats on the blog, great work!

  3. Thanks. Sorry you didn't have any luck :(

  4. BBC, Funded by the public, financing the touts!

  5. Well said from an unable to sleep sick fan.

  6. Hi David.

    Spot on

    Is there a systematic involvement with these sites by the "legit" suppliers.