Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #157

#42 reports back from the first two arenas shows and the tiny Dingwalls gig

Greetings. I’ve one foot out the door to the O2 show, so not much time to catch up on what’s been a pretty eventful week. The arena shows finally kicked off in Glasgow on Saturday. I’m pretty sure that the first UK arena on the Rush Of Blood tour was the SECC in Glasgow. We’d done a bunch of shows, but it was the first one where we had the “Cinemascope” bendy screen above the stage.

This time, the production is somewhat different. The cinemascope screen back then was to try to ensure everyone got a great view of the show no matter where they were. This time however, things were somewhat different. This time, the production is more about making the audience *part* of the show. Indeed for several songs in the set, the lightshow isn’t something to wow the audience into submission – instead, for a good portion of the night, the audience *are* the lightshow.

It’s a good turnaround. At its worst, tour production can be about a designer building a monument to themselves and putting the band somewhere within it. By working with the right people, these guys have thankfully avoided that throughout their career. Now they’re at the height of making the show about the crowd. Quite who has the best seat in the house is now entirely debatable.

Glasgow isn’t without its own first night gremlins. There’s howlingly bum notes, equipment failures and all the usual merry gang that accompanies getting it all out in public for the first time. But what a crowd though. I remember my favourite live album when I was growing up had in its liner notes a special thank you to the Glaswegian audience, crediting them with backing vocals. I always wondered quite how amazing a Glaswegian crowd could be – and every single time I come here I’m reminded.

The following show at Manchester MEN arena marks the first “back to back” meaning that the gear is loaded out from one show until the early hours of the morning, driven to the next city and set again up a few hours later. It will surprise nobody that there are plenty of tired folks around come showtime. The band walk on though, and the shape of the arena (and the fact that there are folks behind the band too) makes the wristbands look completely stunning. The video in the digi tour pack gives you some idea.

Before the show, I bump into Jonny’s dad, who’s wandering around taking it all in. I muse that he’s probably seen them in some smaller places than this. The first time he saw Coldplay was at Telford Warehouse, which is essentially the back room of a pub. Wonder what he thought as the show took flight tonight?

I have to say, that through the festival shows, I was a bit worried that the Viva chant was going to overshadow everything. Fans would start singing it before the band came onstage and even in the gaps during the show. It’s clear though that Charlie Brown is going to become an absolute highpoint of these shows. I also checked Twitter on the way home and pleasingly, someone had posted that “Paradise seems to be the most whistled song as everyone walks out”. Looks like the new record has brought its own magic with it.

So from huge arenas, to….. a 450-capacity club of course!

The band are doing a show for Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2 at Dingwalls in Camden. Both Jo and the venue are hugely instrumental in the band’s early history, so it’s a special day. The soundcheck is hilarious. Half the BBC appear to have come down, prompting the question as to whether there’ll be any room for punters later on.

Chris asks jokingly whether we should “check the B-stage now”, before realising that the B-stage on the current arena show is a good deal bigger than the stage they’re currently on.

The setlist gets a slight alteration before showtime. The news somehow doesn’t make it through the information superhighway to me, which leads to the band being onstage and my keyboard corner being in complete chaos and confusion. Thankfully, this isn’t a live broadcast, so it’s not a major issue.

Things going south can put you in a strange mood for the gig though. I spend the rest of the show in “under fire” mode, constantly waiting for the next hostile visit from the fuck-up-fairy.

I’m led to believe it was a blinder of a show. Maybe I’ll watch it on the telly and see….