Thursday, 7 June 2012

Coldplay live @ Emirates

Hey avid hi-son reader(s)! It's been a while! Time for another meandering stream-of-conciousness monologue on the state of live music from yours truly...

Had an amazing time seeing Coldplay at the Emirates on Saturday. We had fireworks, confetti canons, lasers, giant inflatables and radio-controlled light up wristbands for the whole crowd. It was a pretty stunning effort by the band and a huge contrast to the Viva la Vida tour which I also saw - at that gig, the music was similarly stadium-esque, but the visual feast on offer this time around made the whole gig seem so much more direct and engaging.

It's interesting watching the band go through their paces. They're certainly now an accomplished stadium act - one of only a few - where the music sounds better in that size and type of space. The lavish visual efforts tell of a deep desire within the band to go the extra mile for its fans and give them an unforgettable night. Chris Martin says little but for requesting his audience have the best night of their lives and go as crazy as they can - "The more crazy you go, the harder we'll play" or words to that effect. The crowd lap it up and make more noise than I've ever heard.

But something about it to me seems a touch too trivial and short-sighted. Is it enough to just get a happy buzz from a show for a few hours, or should we expect something deeper or richer from the experience? Could it be that all this effort to excite and wow the crowd is just pandering to their superficial needs and actually people crave something deeper? Isn't music capable of more than just fuelling the party vibe - isn't the best stuff when it gets under our skin, gives us goosebumps, moves us to feel compassion, joy, forgiveness?

I guess it comes down to the vision of the band and of the music. Clearly, Coldplay are interested in giving people a great time. I have no problem with that whatsoever, but I woke up Sunday morning and felt no different because of the experience. Yes, it was a great night, but I can't say it's had any particularly enduring effect. Other shows I've been to where there's been a strong political message or more soul-searching dialogue from the stage I think lend a richness to the music that they accompany.

And it's true, sometimes when you're in the crowd at a U2 show, Bono will be going off on one, or some promo vid for a charity will be rolling, some people get twitchy and start muttering for the band to just get on with the hits. It's risky to do stuff like that and you don't always get away with it. But I genuinely believe that there are things that need to be said that can only be said in that kind of environment, and even if some people don't get it, for those who are willing to be challenged, it makes for a more lasting and inspiring experience.

Happily, Coldplay seem to be quick on the up-take, so I'm hopeful that their next major step forward in their music and stage show will be to find some issue or another that keeps them up all night, that they get angry about, and think creatively about how to tell us all about it.


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