Kaotican Alphabet

Roadie #42 – Blog #99

#42 and the new song soundchecks...

You get the distinct impression that the Stockholm crowd are going to be a belter when the soundcheck finishes and from outside the stadium walls you can hear the thousands of early arrivers chanting the "woah-oh-woah-oh-oh…." from the Viva chorus.

In fact, there’s so many folks outside that word comes around that they’re going to open doors early. Within minutes, the floor is filled way back past the mix tower. It’s the first "stadium proper" and we couldn’t really have asked for a better start.

So yes, a soundcheck today. There’s a few visual elements of the show to refine, which means the irrepressibly cheerful Ben Miles who runs all the video content is rushing around at a rate. Musically, the band are dusting down a few older tracks and also give a new tune a crack.

I can never tell when they’re doing new stuff whether they’re playing something that they’ve been working on in the studio at length, or whether they’re actually playing it for the first time and they’re just so in tune with each other that it sounds like a complete work right away.

Today’s new song is achingly beautiful – truly widescreen and slo-mo. The fellas weave around each other, instinctively leaving spaces for one another and stepping forth when the music calls for their contribution. Hearing things in their rawest form like this is a real treat.

It’s a funny day for me, really. Initially, I think to myself that coming in early to soundcheck means longer in the venue and a chance to get a whole bunch of loose ends tied up. Inevitably, a million little fires spring up that require immediate attention. Before long we’re heading into showtime and the priority of making the show happen makes a nice, clear way to fold up the to-do list for later.

The band are beginning to feel very solidly footed in the big setting – and the crowd are superb. Arlene (from Coldplay’s management team) tells me that this was one of the fastest of the stadiums to sell out and it shows. They light a fire under the band early on which fuels the whole night.

The noise as the crowd sings the end of Yellow is so intense that Chris sits on the stage edge and leans back taking in the scene. Audience entertaining artist, it’s hard to know who’s having the better time.

The ending to Strawberry Swing gets a little ad-libbed vocal from Amsterdam. I learn later that there were folks in the crowd holding up banners asking to hear it. Not content with the fact that when it’s been requested at previous shows Chris has claimed to have forgotten the words, they had apparently also made banners with the lyrics on them. Beats an autocue any day of the week…

The Hannover Stadium is vast and impressive. It’s another soundcheck day today, so we’re in early and the fellas continue with some work on some things old and some things new.

Today’s new tune, I’m pretty sure, appeared quite spontaneously. Soundman Dan Green has requested the first song of the setlist, which usually signals that the soundcheck is done. Will is still playing out the end of the X&Y track the guys have been working on, but suddenly he mutates the beat into a strange cartwheeling funk.

The rest of the fellas join in and there’s an idea evolving before our very ears. Chris checks that it has been recorded for future reference and the intro to Life In Technicolor begins.

The afternoon passes in the usual blur for me before we’re into showtime. The crowd are loud and the stadium acoustics swell the sound to massive proportions. Dan Green informs me in the van that it’s a fabulous sounding stadium and he’s enjoyed himself very much.

You should bear in mind that Dan has mixed hundreds upon hundreds of Coldplay shows from as far back as their Camden club days and for almost every one of them his response has simply been "yeah, it was good". This comment then, is likely to mean that tonight was something pretty special. Certainly, in terms of the band’s playing, the audience response and the way the whole production is gelling, it’s probably the best show of the stadiums so far.

We’re still in the early stages of shows this big of course, so it’s not without its growing pains – but my, how they’ve grown!