A shift to mobile-only ticketing and venue layout changes caused chaos at a long-delayed Elton John concert last weekend in Indiana. Fans heading in to the venue for the show, which had been delayed for over two years by the pandemic, encountered long lines to get in, with some finding their seats had relocated or eliminated altogether  and others not getting in at all.

Friday’s show at Gainbridge Fieldhouse was initially scheduled for October 2019, then pushed to March of 2020. COVID put it on ice for another two years, but the show was finally on for the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. But the excitement of catching one of the legendary singer’s final performances quickly turned sour for thousands.

“They scanned our tickets, and we went up to our seats and the row of seats we were in had been eliminated,” Jennifer & Brian Simpson told Indianapolis’ WRTV. “They ended up giving us new tickets, we go back to where the new seats were at and they were already taken.”

“We got here before the concert started and were told our tickets from 2018 which had been renewed multiple times now were not valid,” says another concertgoer Emily Carlisle, who also posted video of the chaos at the box office where hundreds of others awaited information on why their tickets weren’t working or their seats were changed. We waited for an hour and a half talking to multiple people who couldn’t help us. We were just given four tickets that are nowhere near the quality of the original ones purchased to compensate. We got no warning this would happen, no email, no nothing.”

The culprit in the issues was apparently the forced shift to mobile-only ticketing in the three years since the concert was initially scheduled and sold. That, plus venue reconfigurations that removed or relocated some sections of seats, meant that some tickets that were otherwise valid had been invalidated and would not scan at the gate, while other valid and scanned tickets turned out to be for seats that no longer existed.

“We sold these tickets at a time when we were still using paper tickets which now we are all digital this is part of the impetus behind using all digital tickets,” said Danny Lopez Vice President of Corporate Communications for Gainbridge Fieldhouse. “This was the last show that we had that had been rescheduled that was sold under a different seating manifest a different seating chart.”

That led to massive numbers waiting in line at the box office for long periods of time, all the while the concert began on the other side of the entry gates.

“They were telling everyone to go line up at the box office and they had two people working the box office. And there were probably over a thousand people in line,” says Heather Lawalin, who purchased tickets directly through the box office. “We made the decision to leave because the line wasn’t moving and there were a lot of angry people there. At that point it was a security issue for us.”

This isn’t the first time mobile-only tickets have been to blame when huge issues locked people out of an event. Traditionally, they have been due to system issues as the event time drew closer, such as the College Football Playoff in 2018, as and a multi-event outage in 2017. Even the Super Bowl was impacted this year, with a Ticketmaster outage shutting down the pregame ticket market in Los Angeles. The Ticketmaster “safetix” system has also been employed to lock people out of events deliberately, in the interest of locking out potential competition from resale marketplaces.

Naturally, the Gainbridge Fieldhouse explanation sought to shift blame to ticket resale, as they claimed “several” printed tickets that consumers purchased on the secondary market were “counterfeit” which caused part of the massive line. But they also admitted to deliberately avoiding sending mass communication to consumers before the event about any potential issues with the originally-issued tickets, or tickets that may have changed location due to the venue renovations that took place.

“We’ve been talking pretty regularly for the last couple of years about the Fieldhouse of the Future renovations and how different events are impacted in different ways,” Lopez said in a statement. “However, for this one specifically, we had to make the call, since the overwhelming majority of ticket purchases were not impacted, to not raise a flood of confusion from the broader group. We opted instead to be more direct in our communications, with the exception of messages on social media.”

Regardless, hundreds if not thousands of fans walked away from Friday’s Elton John concert angry, having dealt with major headaches, long lines, and possibly missed part or all of a concert they had been waiting as long as three and a half years for.

“As far as I am concerned it’s more than them refunding money, they need to send us somewhere else that he is having a concert,” said Jennifer Simpson.

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is in its final run of shows in the United States this year, with many concerts rescheduled from 2020. Hopefully for those attending future concerts, these ticketing issues will be a one-off rather than a recurring theme. Details about the ongoing tour and ticket purchase options are below.

Elton John Ticket Links

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Elton John tickets at Vivid Seats

Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour Dates – North America 2022

Newly added shows in bold

Friday, April 8 – Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena
Saturday, April 9 – Lexington, KY | Rupp Arena
Tuesday, April 12 – Columbus, OH | Schottenstein Center
Wednesday, April 13 – Hershey, PA | GIANT Center
Saturday, April 16 – Louisville, KY | KFC Yum! Center
Tuesday, April 19 – Greensboro, NC | Greensboro Coliseum
Wednesday, April 20 – Columbia, SC | Colonial Life Arena
Saturday, April 23 – Jacksonville, FL | Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena
Sunday, April 24 – Tampa, FL | Amalie Arena
Wednesday, April 27 – Orlando, FL | Amway Arena
Thursday, April 28 – Miami, FL | American Airlines Arena

May 21-July 4 – Shows in the UK and Europe

Friday, July 15 – Philadelphia, PA | Citizens Bank Park
Monday, July 18 – Detroit, MI | Comerica Park
Saturday, July 23 – East Rutherford, NJ | MetLife Stadium
Sunday, July 24 – East Rutherford, NJ | MetLife Stadium
Wednesday, July 27 – Foxborough, MA | Gillette Stadium

Thursday, July 28 – Foxborough, MA | Gillette Stadium
Saturday, July 30 – Cleveland, OH | Progressive Field
Friday, August 5 – Chicago, IL | Soldier Field
Wednesday, September 7 – Toronto, ON | Rogers Centre
Thursday, September 8 – Toronto, ON | Rogers Centre
Saturday, September 10 – Syracuse, NY | Carrier Dome
Tuesday, September 13 – Charleston, SC | Credit One Stadium
Friday, September 16 – Pittsburgh, PA | PNC Park
Sunday, September 18 – Charlotte, NC | Bank of America Stadium
Thursday, September 22 – Atlanta, GA | Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Saturday, September 24 – Washington, DC | Nationals Park
Friday, September 30 – Arlington, TX | Globe Life Field
Sunday, October 2 – Nashville, TN | Nissan Stadium
Saturday, October 8 – Santa Clara, CA | Levi’s® Stadium
Sunday, October 16 – Tacoma, WA | Tacoma Dome
Monday, October 17 – Tacoma, WA | Tacoma Dome
Friday, October 21 – Vancouver, BC | BC Place
Saturday, October 22 – Vancouver, BC | BC Place
Saturday, October 29 – San Antonio, TX | Alamodome
Friday, November 4 – Houston, TX | Minute Maid Park
Wednesday, November 9 – San Diego, CA | Petco Park
Friday, November 11 – Phoenix, AZ | Chase Field
Saturday, November 12 – Phoenix, AZ | Chase Field
Thursday, November 17 – Los Angeles, CA | Dodger Stadium
Saturday, November 19 – Los Angeles, CA | Dodger Stadium
Sunday, November 20 – Los Angeles, CA | Dodger Stadium

2023 Dates – New Zealand, Europe, The UK

Main photo: Ben Gibson/Rocket Media