looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Yes Symphonic, Sunset Station, Las Vegas (2001)

Last month YES embarked on another North American tour. This time they actually have a new album on the way, and are touring with an orchestra. (Argh, is this shades of the doomed ELP tour of '77? They basically went bankrupt after a few shows and continued touring without the orchestra to try to make up the loss.)

Being a total fanatic, I had purchased tickets online about two months ago in order to get excellent seats (second row), indicating that the tickets should be mailed to me. The web site informed me that I should receive them at least 2 days prior to the event. Well, you guessed it - the tickets never showed up. I rang the ticket office phone number (after searching for it on the tickets.com web site in vain for about an hour) and spoke to a human, who said, "We can convert the tickets to "will call" which means that you pick them up from the tickets.com table at the venue, you just have to show them your credit card and give your name, they'll have the tickets for you. If the tickets do show up in the mail in the next day or so, they won't be any good to you, so you can either call and cancel the "will call" in order to use the tickets, or just discard them if you retain the "will call" arrangement."

Sounds simple enough.... On the day of the event, the tickets still hadn't arrived, so with credit card and printed out email confirmation of ticket purchase in hand, we drove through to South Vegas/Henderson to the Sunset Station Hotel & Casino, where the concert was being held in the outdoor amphitheatre next door.

(Pretty much every venue of interest is attached to a casino in Vegas. There are some exceptions.)

Sunset Station Casino turns out to be quite nice, as casinos in Vegas go. It has some quite beautiful stained glass ceiling work in it, and a reasonably pleasant range of cafes and restaurants. The original plan was to meet up with other Yes-fans at the buffet, but when we walked in it was 5:30pm and the queue was already way too long to warrant the wait. The show was due to start at 8:00pm, and we had to be at the ticket table thing at least an hour before that. We wouldn't have any time to eat once we'd got through the queue. So, plan B: Find somewhere else to eat, because we were starving.

We elected to eat at a Mexican-style place called, I think, Guadalajara. It had a nice help-yourself Salsa bar, and the food was mid-priced, so we didn't feel ripped off. It was not busy at all at that time, quite the opposite of the buffet. The food was actually really nice, and in fact I think I would go back there if the opportunity arose. I had a margarita and felt very mellow.

After a very enjoyable meal, we left the restaurant and made our way towards the amphitheatre entrance. Sure enough, there was a table set up outside with a sign that read, "tickets.com will call". We get in the line clutching our particulars. Many other people are in the line with printed-out emails from Tickets.com, which makes me feel a bit happier about showing up to a venue without actual physical tickets. When we get to the table, the woman sitting behing it asks for our name, and rummages through her index card box of will-call tickets. Nope, we're not there. "Sorry, Next in line please."

"Uh, hang on. We've paid for our tickets - good ones, I might add - and here is an email from tickets.com confirming the purchase and even giving details of the seat numbers!" We check the index box, which has tickets mis-filed in almost every letter of the alphabet - no joy, though, our tickets are not there.

"Well, your tickets aren't here. Please step back and we'll deal with you in a minute."

Colin unstraps the Uzi from his shoulder and sprays the room with bullets, shouting incoherently...

"What's the problem, can I help?" says a different official looking woman, popping Colin's fantasy like a cat thrown into a bag of balloons.

"Well, you see, we bought tickets online but they didn't arrive by mail and we rang and converted them to will call and they said to come here but now they're saying that they don't have them..."

"Let's see what we can do to fix this," she says. "Perhaps the tickets are at the ticket office next to Registration," she chirps, and ushers us out of the will-call queue and along the corridor towards the hotel registration desk.

It turns out that there is a special booth at the registration desk called "tickets.com". Unfortunately it's manned by a drone who apparently didn't bring his brain with him when he came to work this morning. "No, we don't have any tickets here," he muttered.

"Could you perhaps look in the computer?" we suggest. "There must be some record of our conversation with the phone people".

"No, can't look in the computer from here," he said, gesturing to the computer terminal on his desk.

"Well, take a look at this email and see if there isn't someone you can call or something, because we've paid for good seats and we don't see what the problem is," we responded.

"We still have some V.I.P. pass tickets left", said the woman official merrily, "so let's just do that instead of messing around with the computer," and we walked off back to the will-call desk.

"Here you go," she said, and thrust a pair of tickets marked "VIP ADM GEN"  into my hand.

We walked through the corridor, grumbling about how these had better be as good as our original seats. The "general admission" think didn't sound too good, but the "VIP" part made up for that.

As it turned out, the "general admission" meant that we could sit anywhere we liked in the section reserved for VIPs. Not in the second row, but about 10 rows back in the middle, and what's more, a roped-off section in front of us so that we got a perfect view, not obscured by anyone sitting 5 rows in front of us.  In front of that was another 5 rows where "friends of the band" were sitting.

The show was great. Steve Howe is a guitar god, etc etc. (Insert fanboy raving here.) The orchestra was pretty good, considering that apparently they only got their musical score earlier that day at the sound check!