Roadie #42 – Blog #174

Jul 02, 2012

So here’s a funny one.

I’ve been playing about with a bunch of new cameras lately. Even though it’s the cheapest of them, one of the most interesting is a tiny little video camera that was invented for sticking on skydivers’ heads.

What better way to test it, then, than to stick it to the end of the guitar that Chris throws into the air at the end of God Put A Smile?

Hoppy spends a lot of his working day repairing this guitar and nursing it through the tour. Understandably, he’s not entirely sure about the idea when I first explain it, but he’s game. I rig it up and show him how to press record, then pretty much forget all about it. During Princess of China after God Put A Smile is done, Hoppy’s voice comes over the comms system. “I’ve got no idea where your camera ended up, mate”. Oh bugger.

We have a quick scan around the stage while the band are on the B-stage and then wait until they take off for the two songs at the back of the arena. I’m down in the pit with a torch, searching on the floor when Darren from the video department informs me that he saw it fly off towards the confetti canon, stage right. Despite a pretty thorough hunt, no joy.

I head back to my bunker to be ready for Clocks and tweet a quick message from the Coldplay account asking if anyone that’s been to the show saw where it went. I don’t hold out much hope – I mean what are the odds? I’m thoroughly expecting to endure a few days of “I am Spartacus”-style wind up, as hundreds of folks who weren’t even at the show all turn up claiming they’ve got our camera. Hmmmmm.

Mainly though, I just want to see what’s on it!

When the show is done and we’re heading for the plane, I have a quick look on Twitter and I’m astonished by the explosion of retweets. A few folks quite helpfully tell me they saw it come off and in which direction it went, but nobody found it when it landed. Oh well, that’s that.

An hour or so later though, as we’re getting to the hotel in Miami, there’s a tweet saying “we have your camera!”. Really? Hmm, could this be the start of the hoaxes?

Shortly afterwards though, they post a photo of the camera. It clearly shows a sticker that I put on it just before the show.

My god! That’s it! After a bit of email back and forth, it turns out that they were in the front row after being “upgraded” from seats way up the back. The band have done this for ages now. It came about after struggling with shows where the seats closest to the stage were often full of just “the highest bidders” and not necessarily the most enthusiastic fans.

In European standing shows, the front rows are the kids who’ve been outside the venue since daybreak and who’ve sprinted in to get the pole position. Usually by the time the opening acts have finished they’re at fever pitch with excitement. The sight of Chris’s piano being wheeled into position can bring about a screaming cheer – explosive enough to make you think the show has already started.

In contrast, folks who’d paid astronomical sums for the tickets could often just sit with an arms folded sense of entitlement, emoting “come on then, entertain me, have you any idea how much I paid for this?”.

So the band don’t sell the tickets to the front few rows any more. Instead, various crew members are sent out to scan the highest, furthest seats to find folks who look genuinely excited and giddy to be seeing the band. They’re then given tickets to the front row (which quite often looks a very, very long way away from the “nosebleed” seats). Often, folks think it’s a scam and refuse to believe it. Often they go berserk and jump up and down screaming – until they have to calm down before they fall down.

Eventually, though, they end up down the front and the natural order of things is restored. For them, it’s a Willy Wonka golden ticket. For the band, it’s guaranteed energy from the folks closest to them. It genuinely does make the shows better. We’ve all said it many times. How good a show is, is largely to do with how good the audience are. It’s what fuels the whole thing.

So it seems, Andy, Brianna and Julia (above) had been upgraded. And a good thing too! When the guitar flew through the air and came crashing down onto the stage, my camera flew apart in all directions. The guts of it though, landed at their feet – and they very kindly mailed it back to me the next day. Twitter, it would seem, has more uses than telling folks what you had for lunch…

The camera got pretty comprehensively trashed upon its crash landing. The waterproof enclosure was shattered and gone, the back cover missing, the battery AWOL, but the body intact. With a little work though, I coaxed the footage from the poor frightened little bugger. So here we have it ladies and gents – I give you the final seconds of the 42cam’s maiden flight:

Never a dull moment…