Springsteen in Dublin, July 2009
Bruce Springsteen is coming to Dublin again. Great. It's been nearly three years since his last show I'm sure his Irish fans will be thrilled to see him and the E Street Band again.

Irish sure people do seem to love him. Tickets to his shows are always hard to come by. Often extra shows are added after the first sells out quickly. In November 2007 Springsteen tickets went on sale for a show the following May. It sold out in 15 minutes, a second show was added and then a third. Springsteen sold more than 110,000 tickets that day to watch him and his band play in the RDS, a showjumping arena that is not a great venue for a concert. A year later he returned and sold out two shows, another 80,000 tickets.

That was early 2009. A lot has changed since then. Although we knew hard times were coming, they weren't really here yet. The ticket prices were steep, but the full impact of what was about to befall Ireland hadn't been fully realized yet. For the 2008 show the prices were  €81 ($109) to stand in a field or €91 ($122) to sit in the distant stands. A year later they were €86 ($115) and €96 ($129).
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Money was tight then. It's much tighter now. I'm curious to see if Springsteen's Irish fans can and will pony up this time. The tickets that go on sale this Thursday are the same price as in 2009.

The prices of the tickets just stick in my craw. It's not just the old (and valid) complaint about Springsteen supposedly being this blue collar hero while charging top dollar for tickets to his shows. It's that a reduction in price was warranted and what's worse is that tickets for his shows in England are a lot cheaper.

Based on inflation figures there should have been a reduction in the ticket prices. There's more to it than than that, though. Springsteen is not your typical ignorant showbiz type. I'm convinced he knows Ireland is experiencing an economic collapse. I'm sure he has read some of Paul Krugman, who yesterday referred the suffering of the Irish people as "outrageous."

Possibly even more galling is that the tickets to see Springsteen are cheaper in England. A lot cheaper. Okay, there are differences in taxes, but that doesn't account for the vast difference in prices between here and England. The English have to pay £55 ($85) to stand in the field. The tickets to Springsteen's Dublin show are a third more expensive. Why? Why is Springsteen charging his English fans less than his Irish fans?

Whenever Springsteen comes here he mentions his Irish roots, talks about how much he loves it here. He always gets an enthusiastic reception. His Irish audience helped him sell a show recorded during his tour promoting the We Shall Overcome album, the title alone an ironic whack to the head for his Irish fans.

Springsteen's Irish fans are loyal. Very loyal. Some won't care what it costs, "Costs be damned! It's The Boss, after all." I'm sure others will sweat and worry, but pay too whether they should or not. For many, however, $125 including booking fee is simply too much nowadays. Would it have killed Springsteen to have shown his loyal Irish fans some consideration and at least charge them no more than his English fans?

Next summer 'The Boss' is apparently going to spend a little time searching for his Irish roots while he's here. Maybe when he arrives he'll realize it's not his Irish roots, but his Irish heart that he needs to find.

{Photo from James Horan/Photocall Ireland}