This post was originally written for the Access For Us blog in 2019 – It has now been updated.
It is hard to believe that the last stadium concert I attended was Green Day at The Emirates, London 2013, thankfully I didn’t require accessible tickets.
Though prior to that I had been a regular concert goer from my teens. I was always travelling off somewhere with our local coach company who provided tickets and travel.
In 2014 I managed to sneak a couple of arena concerts in, Kelly Clarkson, Meatloaf (who was shocking) and the final one being a boy band in October 2014 which I can’t even remember the name off, but it was at the Echo Arena in Liverpool and I had to leave early because of the noise. Yes, me a Green Day fan had to leave a concert early because of the noise.
MS affects us all differently, however, my first flare was in July 2014 when I was originally diagnosed with a transient ischaemic attack, the flare consisted of dizziness, near fainting and paresthesia in both arms, I was admitted to hospital and had an MRI scan which the results showed a lesion on my brain so I was transferred to neurology, the MS words at this time were never spoken, even though I had a positive lumbar puncture not long afterwards, the neurologist just wanted to monitor me.
This is where all my heightened sensitivities started, sound, smell, touch and light. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that I had to leave the concert in 2014 because the noise was sending me dizzy.
In 2017 I had another flare which has since affected my balance along with weakening my left side which meant I had to resort to using a walking stick and latterly a wheelchair.
I follow rugby league and the noise level from the crowd was really starting to bother me when my sensitivities go into overdrive, my heart rate goes up and my blood pressure goes down, which if not controlled I can have near- syncope which causes me to nearly faint and my limbs start to shake, as happened here.
To try and manage this after trying numerous cheap headphones I finally gave in and bought some Bose Quiet Comfort 35 ii noise cancelling and you wouldn’t believe the difference!
In 2018 The Bonus Arena opened in my home town I thought, yes, I can start going to concerts again, I might look a bit daft at a concert in headphones but so what I am going to try.
Tickets are managed by Ticketmaster and the first concert I wanted to attend was Boyzone’s Farewell Tour, looking at the details for tickets and having never purchased accessible tickets before I noted these were only available over the phone.
At 10:00 when the phone lines opened I was in the queue, by the time I had got through all the accessible tickets had gone.
The standard tickets also sold out the same day online and Boyzone decided to add another date, so again back on the phone, by the time I got through all the accessible tickets had gone again so while I missed out several my friends had managed to secure standard tickets.
The next concert I wanted to attend was Olly Murs, the accessible tickets again only available over the phone. 10:00 when the phone lines opened I got in the queue for accessible tickets with none left by the time I got through.
I did manage to get tickets for Sheridan Smith over the phone but then she cancelled, so I have yet to visit the Bonus Arena.
Where to go from here
My thought process now is if I can’t get tickets for my local arena I stand even less chance of getting them for any of the big stadium concerts.
This makes me feel disappointed in this day and age that as a disabled concert goer I unable to take advantage of the same online systems able people are.Is this not discrimination should we not have the same rights as able people to tickets for concerts. Click To Tweet
Is this not discrimination should we not have the same rights as able people to tickets for concerts?
Late in 2019 Ticketmaster finally announced that accessible tickets would be available online but still didn’t make it clear how this would be managed.
Pin me to read later
On Wednesday prior to the tickets going on general sale, I received a priority code with contact details to ring The John Smiths Stadium direct for accessible tickets.
On trying the number it wasn’t even connecting so after trying for over an hour I rang the stadium’s direct number and asked if there was a problem with the phone line, to which they replied yes there was and engineers were working on it.
The rest of my day was spent on constant redial praying the number would come back up and to my surprise, at around 3 pm while I was driving I got through.
Safely pulling in the nearest side street I finally secured my first stadium accessible tickets. Though I still believe it was more by good luck than good fortune.
Back to Bonus Arena
I still wasn’t getting anywhere with getting accessible tickets for the Bonus Arena and when Simple Minds announced they would be there in August 2020, my friend asked straight away if I would like to go, trying again online I couldn’t get any, so I called out Bonus Arena on twitter and surprisingly they responded and I got tickets.
A couple of weeks ago Bryan Adams was announced for June 2020 and as the majority of my late teens, early ’20s was spent following Bryan Adams all over the country I really didn’t want to miss this.
Because of the problems I had experienced with Simple Minds I emailed the Bonus Arena a couple of days before the tickets were due to go on sale and I received a very standard you can get them online.
Friday of the tickets going on sale I was sat waiting patiently for the screen to open, there were no accessible tickets available, so onto the phone, I went only to get cut off as per usual.
Here we go again, so I made the decision to purchase standard tickets online before they all sold out, I would cross the accessible bridge at a later date.
The following day I called Ticketmaster out on twitter and very quickly the customer services department replied. Though I have to say they really weren’t helpful, other than to tell me there were no accessible tickets left when I asked if they could advise me how I could get tickets they never replied.It took someone retweeting it for me to finally understand the accessible tickets process Click To Tweet
It took someone retweeting it for me to finally understand the accessible tickets process, so logging into my account I completed my profile and uploaded my PIP document as proof of disability. Why couldn’t Ticketmaster just have given me that advice?
This enabled me to secure Ronan Keating tickets for July 2020.
MS is a chronic and often invisible illness, where no two patients have the same symptoms so while I might not be in pain all of the time I do have serious balance issues which is why I use a wheelchair, therefore I require a wheelchair space wherever I go.
Both Ticketmaster and Bonus Arena could have been more helpful with their advice and not just left me fathom it out for myself, believe it or not, this is all still relatively new to me and I do need guidance, as, having these facilities doesn’t make either compliant if they don’t share the information around it.
As I do always like to end on a positive, the positive is I now have quite a few concert and theatre tickets in the bag for this year.