Slouched on bobbled brown couch cushions, fuelled by caffeine and excitement, Jason Smythe was confident this morning he would soon be rocking out with his music heroes U2.
The 27-year-old Otumoetai College economics teacher and his Irish backpacker friend, 24-year-old Brendan Coffey, headed the queue of about 100 people outside Rebel Sport in Chapel St, seeking tickets to the band's only New Zealand concert.
The pair set up camp last night at 9pm, beginning a 12 hour vigil for the sought-after tickets.
Across town, Glenn Cameron and Suzi Colcord began queuing at the front door of the ANZ bank in Spring St at 3.50am to ensure they didn't miss out on any of the 11,500 tickets to Blues, Brews and BBQs tickets.
Tickets to the January 12 event at Blake Park went on sale from 7.30am from all ANZ branches in the Western Bay this morning.
They were all sold out by 10am.
U2 fans Mr Smythe and Mr Coffey had the foresight to bring padding and sleeping bags to protect themselves from the hard concrete. They spent a rather uncomfortable night under the floodlit glare of the Chapel St carpark, with constant disruptions from deliveries to the NZ Post mail centre next door.
"Part of the experience is queuing up _ living the dream," said Mr Coffey good-humouredly.
"To quote Bono: dream out loud," added Mr Smythe, who has been a fan since 1988.
Neither men have attended a concert by U2 before. Mr Smythe said he was too young when they last performed here 12 years ago.
The U2/Vertigo stadium concerts have made the group's tour the world's biggest this year, with more than 3.4 million fans rolling up in the US and Europe.
The only New Zealand gig will be in Auckland on St Patrick's Day, March 17, at Ericsson Stadium.
Equipment and staff for U2's spectacular show will arrive in New Zealand in 32 ocean containers and aboard three 747 planes chartered for the world tour. The supergroup are also bringing 100 crew, adding an extra 130 local crew for the show.
Tickets cost between $99 and $199 _ but the price was well worth it to Mr Smythe who intended to buy five for himself and his friends.
``You've got to hold the ticket to know it's actually there,'' he said. Katie Morris agreed. The 21-year-old photo editor from Tauranga arrived at Rebel Sport just after 8am and, despite being at the end of the line, she was confident turning up at the shop had a huge advantage over ordering tickets online. ``The internet will just crash,'' she predicted. The internet was not a factor in the quest to secure Blues, Brews and BBQ tickets, with hundreds of people lining up all over town. Clad in his work attire, Mr Cameron and Ms Colcord were first in line in the 300-strong queue, which formed around the central city block to Durham St. Mr Cameron said this was the sixth year he and Ms Colcord had lined up for their four tickets and they had no plans to miss out this year. ``It is part of the excitement of the event. And it really isn't a hardship to get up a few hours earlier, especially after you get your hands on tickets,'' he said. The couple kept themselves warm by snuggling up with a blanket and cups of coffee, while Mr Cameron read his newspaper cover to cover several times. Ms Colcord went for walks but came back frequently to check in. Also in the queue was another die-hard Brews fan, Robyn Pettigrew from the Avenues, who nabbed her spot at 5.50am. She has been attending the festival since the 1993 and thought it was about time the organisers put a limit on the number of tickets people can buy each. By 8.20am another bunch of people made a mad dash into the bank, including Dianne Fair who said she had come in from Greerton to buy her 18 tickets after tickets there sold out. ``People were buying wads of tickets. I think that is unfair. I think they should limit the ticket sales to 10 each. That would be reasonable,'' she said. Festival organiser David Mustard said all 1100 tickets at Greerton and 800 at Cherrywood were snapped up within half an hour, although at 9.15am there were still tickets available at the Mount and Tauranga branches, which were allocated 3300 each. About 70 of the 2100 tickets at Bayfair were still up for grabs at that time.
Mr Mustard said that when it came to the number of tickets each person could buy there had always been a lot of debate. ``Already the tickets have a condition of sale printed on them which prohibits scalping and, if some scumbag buys 100 and is trying to make private gain from a charitable event, then that would be pretty annoying. ``But if we limit ticket sales we could be penalising people who are legitimately buying them on behalf of friends, work colleagues or businesses wanting to give them away as corporate gifts to their clients. Mr Mustard said extending the event over two days and possible to a bigger venue had also crossed the minds of the committee because of the huge demand for festival tickets.