Roadie #42 – Blog #18

Aug 03, 2008

So that’s Canada done for a little while, eh? This time out, a good proportion of the crew are Canadians, so Chris’s claim from the stage that it’s a "home from home" have an extra resonance. As soon as Life In Technicolor hits in Montreal, I’m suddenly reminded about this place. Nobody knows whether it’s the crowd or the acoustics, but the cheering is absolutely deafening throughout, which can’t help but lift the show to new heights.

There’s a mix up over the piano early on in the set and nobody can work out if it’s actually broken. We’ve carried a spare piano for about five years now and never had to switch them out mid-show. I’ve always wondered if it would even be possible – after all, it’s not like strapping on a new guitar if there’s a broken string…

My question is answered when I get around the curtain behind the stage. There is a huge crowd of riggers, carpenters and other assorted roadies huddled at the bottom of the stairs around the spare piano. Many of them are in bodybuilder poses in readiness for the dead-lift ahead. As soon as the lights fade up on the B-stage, there is an ant-like frenzy of activity as the switch takes place. It’s a glorious group effort and a truly textbook manoeuvre. I can’t help but ask Chris what the trouble was as we head back to the hotel later. Was the damper pedal stuck? Had one of the hammers broken? No, he explains somewhat sheepishly. "I thought we were doing a different song and I panicked". Classic! Well at least we’ve had a good drill and we know we can do it!

Toronto will always be a special show for Coldplay. They chose to film here last time for a reason and we’re reminded all over again why that was. It’s also a glorious two shows in a row here which, for the crew means that the first night is a "walk away". For those not familiar with roadie parlance, this means no load-out! Not only that, but there is a party down the road and tour manager Franksy is buying.

It’s pretty much the first time we’ve had the band and crew in one place at one time on this tour and there is plenty of back slapping, hugging and not a little drinking. Unsurprisingly, most people gravitate to the quietest, lowest profile part of the club and pretty soon we’re all in the basement. The DJ puts on a dance remix of Viva and there is a collective whince. When it finally fades, it’s replaced with Kanye West’s Homecoming. I turn and see Chris with his head in his hands from embarrassment and Will shaking his head. Soon, normal service is resumed, with the speakers booming Franksy’s voice. He announces that it’s time to celebrate Mr Champion’s birthday. A cake arrives, the song is sung and glasses are raised. Franksy gives thanks on Will’s behalf and then explains there will be no speeches. I expect he may have even had a drink or two on Will’s behalf. Always going the extra mile…

The second Air Canada Center crowd is even louder than the first, giving way to discussion that they may have been louder even than Montreal – a feat previously thought impossible. Just as well that they’re in good voice, as they are invited to give Will his second song of the day. What better way to turn 30 than in front of a bunch of rowdy Canadians?

The ending of Speed Of Sound gets extended and in the darkness, Chris’s piano carries on. Slowly, it becomes apparent that he’s picking out another tune. The crowd roars as he begins to sing and people realise it’s an impromptu rendition of The Hardest Part. Will chimes in with a harmony and they gently pull out a rather wonderful version of the song completely from nowhere. I’ve always loved it when the fellas go off the set-list and I’m really pleased that it’s happening a lot on this tour. I’m reminded of the Rush Of Blood tour, when I first heard Moses long after the house lights had gone back up, people were leaving and the guitars were back in their cases. It’s great to see them relaxed enough to play with things this early in the tour. There’s a minor technical glitch though, which breaks the spell and the bubble bursts, the moment gone forever.

Or at least until the encore… Politik ends and the same "piano in the darkness" emerges. The guys reprise The Hardest Part giving it a dignified finish to insane applause. Nice recovery!

With the show complete, the vans pull up at the plane and it’s been turned into a full-on party-tube. Our very own air traffic controller Janice (with help from trainer Dan) has decorated the place with balloons, streamers, banners and some rather funky disco balls. By the time we sing the third and final Happy Birthday of the day, it may well be far enough past midnight that it’s not actually strictly accurate. Either way, it’s an event well celebrated. Cheers Mr. C!