Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #142

#42, the Paradise rehearsals and the damp desk

The four weeks off it seems, haven’t just breathed new life into the crew – the band roll up for the first day of rehearsals positively beaming. It’s all hugs, smiles and “So, what’ve you been up to?”. Everyone looks fresh, relaxed and ready to take on the world. Pretty good thing too, as that’s what’s on the agenda for the next year or so…

If any more evidence were needed that summer is finally in the rear view mirror, the weather on the first morning is absolutely miserable. Perfect weather, then, for spending the day in a dark windowless room…

Order of the day, is the three new tunes to be added to the setlist. First up is Paradise. They’ve played it enough times during recording to be on top of it from the word go – almost. It sounds confident, assured and classy right from the off. Also, with me being set up directly opposite Jonny’s amps here, it sounds even more exhilarating than the recorded version.

The first run through ends and Chris pronounces, “That slide at the start of the guitar solo was amazing – why isn’t that on the record?”

Jonny looks a little sheepish and grins, “I couldn’t remember which note I start on, so I was looking around for it…” I believe one of Brian Eno’s “oblique strategies” is to “Honour thy mistake as an intention” – the boy Buckland plainly far too honest to go along with this one.

DLIBYH comes next. Will points out that they’ve never actually played it all together at the same time. It’s not uncommon for bands to record songs part by part these days in the studio, carefully overdubbing each instrument to a metronomic "click track". But this is very unusual for Coldplay. Songs are hammered down through an extensive rehearsal process and the overdubs generally only come much later after a great band take has been captured.

DLIBYH though, arrived almost at the end of recording – and by all accounts came together very quickly indeed. This means that the days (or in some cases, months) of rehearsal and playing together just didn’t happen. Yet it explodes into life pretty convincingly. Rough edges abound, but that’s why we’re in a rehearsal room, after all…

Up In Flames, being the simplest of the three, is ready to go pretty much right away. As well as its simplicity, it’s also the most emotionally raw of the three songs we’ve heard today. Perhaps this is why Chris comes out with a slightly apologetic comment about making us listen to these songs over and over today.

As a tension-breaker, the band launch into a gag-tune about the crew called It’s A Paycheque. Soundman / co-producer Dan Green doesn’t escape either. He enters from his room across the hall and a tune called He’s Got White Gloves is born, in celebration of Dan’s somewhat reluctant approach to the heavier end of roadie duties.

With the first day returned to the way it began – laughter and smiles all around – the band head off.

They’re in for a second day, but blink and you coulda missed them. Heads down and all business, they run through each tune once and then Paradise again, before disappearing as fast as they’d arrived, leaving a whole day free for all that tidying and organising I talked about.

We get halfway through some editing work when the skies open and there is rain the like of which I’ve never seen outside the door. Then, out of nowhere, it’s raining *inside*. There is a flat roof above us and the drains can’t take it. It’s literally pouring in above my rack full of gear. It all gets a bit Laurel and Hardy for a while as plastic sheets are scrambled over things and then finally everything gets wheeled out from under the leak. I’m only glad that it didn’t happen in the middle of the night when we weren’t there to rescue the gear…

So, we’re back in the saddle. Some busy weeks ahead, judging by the iCal, but despite missing the lazy days of summer, I have to say that it does feel good to be back.