Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #161

Roadie #42, the errant smoke machine and the soundcheck experiments

Click to see bigger version

I’ve got to be honest, I was expecting the Rotterdam audience to be somewhat – um, “laid back” I guess is the right phrase. It just goes to show that you never can tell…

It’s a good noisy crowd that sing through the show at the Ahoy – none more so than when the band are on the B-Stage and the cheer for Will during Us Against The World is so huge that the song grinds to a halt amidst disbelieving giggles on stage.

Meanwhile, *underneath* the stage shortly later, things go similarly silly just before Clocks when it becomes clear that an errant smoke machine has been kicked and is now facing in the wrong direction. Rather than fill the stage with smoke for the lasers, it instead fills the entire under-stage corridor with thick smoke. I can hardly see the computer screen in front of me and begin wafting the smoke out of the side curtain with a clipboard in either hand.

I’m wondering to myself what it must look like to the crowd in the seats immediately above stage left as the drape flips open belching smoke and revealing coughing grinning roadies – just as the drums explode into Clocks. I muse that it can only look like the scene in a film when the inventor is thrown backwards through the door of his lab after a huge bang – covered in black soot and missing his eyebrows. Just then, Monitor Engineer Chris Wood’s voice comes over the crew comms system. “Takes me back to working for the Sisters Of Mercy.”

Never a dull moment…

Somewhat randomly, the following day in Antwerp, we’re soundchecking. It turns out that the band are keen to have a tinker with the setlist. First, they fiddle with a different approach on Us Against The World and then they try a couple of tunes not heard since the Viva shows. After some chin-stroking and discussion, Chris turns to Guy and laughs.

“We’re not going to play any of this tonight, are we?”

Guy simply smiles and shakes his head. More work to be done, clearly…

Next, they blast through one of the new songs that got a workout during production rehearsals. It sounds pretty damn ready to me. Come setlist time though, it’s not made it on. Oh well – it’s not like there aren’t a whole bunch more shows coming up…

One of the comments from the band during soundcheck is how much they miss Phil’s voice in these situations. I’ve always described Phil as being able to view everything occurring through both the eyes of the band and those of their audience. It’s in situations like this, where decisions need to be made, his absence is most strongly felt.

Phil of course, hasn’t gone away, he’s simply got some other very exciting matters of his own to attend to for a few days. There’s plenty of the extended Coldplay gang around though, in the shape of the Champion family. They’re here for a couple of shows to see their dad at work and it’s a suitably wonderful sight to see. I have to say that the family vibe seems to have made touring an awful lot more civilised – or maybe we’ve all grown up a little bit, I’m not sure.

One thing I do know for certain, is that it’s extremely difficult to take the whole thing too seriously when there is a toddler holding the radio mic and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star through the sound system…