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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Coldplay, part 2

Coldplay Blue

I’d never had “backstage passes” before, so the Coldplay concert was an oddity by that measure: here I was, walking the corridors of superstardom rock’n’roll, where the roadies hung out emailing their friends back wherevertheylive, and stage managers moving through like rhinos on the warpath. And then there was Sarah, so British, so cute, leading us through the tumult and into the catering room, clouded with food mists and a cornucopia of aromas. This was also the first stadium concert I’d attended since the late ’90s, when the Rolling Stones played Wisconsin U (or was that last Chicago concert Page & Plant playing Zeppelin songs? Can’t remember, and sort of glad for that).The Czech crowd was large, young, and anxious. The O2 Arena (named for O2, the Euro telecommunications giant) is BIG, but very modern, and new. Lots of beer/food stalls, plenty of bathrooms, and a nice “press” entrance that Chris & I slipped through once we got our cool stick-on passes. The idea was to have dinner with Sarah, Chris’s girlfriend who works the catering operation for the tour, and then see the show in the stands with all those other people … the non-VIPs.


We had no chance to meet the band before the show, as they get into that band-only mindset before each show. I do hear that the lads are proper English boys, who are terribly polite to all the road crew (“Can I bother you for more orange juice?”, “Is there any tea?”), and make the on-the-road experience as easy as possible for everyone. Case in point: the buses that the road crew travel from city to city (Prague one night; Budapest the next; Vienna on the third) are completely decked out for sleeping, comfort, eating, entertainment, and easy transport. A computer hard-drive has dozens of HD movies available to play on the flat screen TVs; beer, wine and spirits are there for the wanting; munchies galore; music and dancing; strip monopoly and rooftop jacuzzies (okay, these last two are imaginative).So Sarah collected us outside the press entrance. We went into the bowels of O2 areana, met a bunch of the crew, then went into the dining room. There we had a sheet of the day’s menu from which to choose: steak & roasted potatoes; grilled perch over rocket salad; a vegetarian dish; and something else. There were starters laid out buffet style, and fruit and pastries for dessert. I had the perch.

Coldplay BalloonsAfter we ate, and sat around shooting the breeze before “showtime”, I noticed one of the crew with a t-shirt that said “All access All the Time. Don’t Even Ask.” Now that dude was important. We made our way up to the main floor with our tickets; there was a bit of confusion in the translation between the Czech guard watching the main floor “corral” area and us trying to get close to the stage. Eventually, we figure out what he was trying to say. Here’s a rough translation: “What the fuck you want to stand with all these people for? The ticket’s you got are right next to the stage, you dumb shits.”

Me and Chris went outside, in through the turnstiles, and down to our seats. They were next to the stage on the right side, at the front end. I could have jumped the barrier and stood on stage. Chris and I took seats that weren’t ours, but we had a plan: if anyway came to “claim” the seats, we were going to flash our VIP backstage passes and shove our thumbs at the intruders: “Hit the road, Czesky! We’re with the BAND.” Fortunately, no one tried to kick us out.

We were surrounded by gorgeous Czech teenage girls. Let me tell you about Czech girls: this country is filled with Little Miss Universes. Unfortunately, they’re all young enough to be my daughter, but then I’m only window shopping, right? Anyway, as the band … Coldplay … came on stage, the crowd went crazy and the party began.

Funny that I don’t really know any of the songs; I recognize them, but then the voice sort of sounds like a half-dozen other bands. You don’t get that feeling in concert though, when the spectacle, the crowd, the vibes, and the beer are all working together.

The light show centered around these giant balloons that dropped from behind the stage and over the crowd. They revolved as they projected video feeds from the inside — live feeds of the band members playing guitar, jambing the drums, singing — and had colors and other weird, psychedelic images going on as well. Very dramatic and graphic and all that.

So then me and Chris ran out for beers a few times. Two-fifty for a beer at a concert is a steal. So since when has America decided that the concessionaires would set the price for food & liquor at all sporting, concert, and fair events? In Prague, if you charge too much, there will be riots. Now that’s democracy in action, no?

I was “surprised” at how good Coldplay was, actually. I’d given up on rock & roll bands since the mid 1990s when record labels sought bands based on how closely they came to sound like the previously “best-selling” band that, of course, didn’t last, couldn’t write decent lyrics, and only were signed because the boys “fit the suit.”

Coldplay is in fact made up of quality musicians who not only play well together, but LIKE TO ENTERTAIN their audience, give a good show, and leave people with the feeling that what they had just seen was a memory worth holding.

Sarah & ChrisAfter the show, we hit the tour bus for an apré-concert beer, then jumped in Chris’s VW cruiser van for a harrowing ride back to my Suchdol apartment using his i-Phone GPS guide. At one point we found ourself riding on tram rails up by Hradcany Castle. But all was good. We made it safely into the arms of a Canadian whiskey nightcap.

For other full size pics, see my Flickr acct; for another video, watch this.

1 Comment »

  ClaireMargaret wrote @ September 28th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

This is really cool. Enjoyed the clips as well as your commentary.

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