Did they find Paradise?

30 Jul

What does the experience of being at a live gig feel like for us all?  Why do some people stay for the encore and others leave?  Why, when I look around, are some faces stone-cold as though they are sitting through a board-meeting?  Whilst others look as though they might jump their next door neighbor with pure elation… Even if they are bringing the entire building down with the cut-and-thrust of their bombastic bingo-wings swaying through the body-odour-infused air.

I came to the thinking that, critical minds are forever on the outside.  Unable to totally throw themselves into the here-and-now they stand at the sidelines trying so hard to suspend their disbelief whilst Chris Martin spins around like Johnny Depp in a colourful crepe-paper shower.  Where are the snow-sculptures and topiary?  This is show-business, remember?  The inner-workings of a stage set should be carefully concealed to the human eye.  Transport yourself, you’re in another dimension, folks.

Admittedly, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, as these four British lads entered the stadium of TD Gardens in Boston – there’s a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist and some multi-taskers who can simultaneously plink at a piano and sing about colours of the rainbow, lost dreams and not believing what one has become.  So what?  What is it that pushes some bands to the top whilst others are left churning out Stevie Wonder covers on a pre-programmed keyboard on subway platforms, and singing “I Believe I Can Fly” in their best R Kelly impression?  I wondered…for a second.

Chris Martin looked older, but definitely more angular, he had the look of a tortured musician on the brink of self-destruction.  Was it all for show?  Had these intervening years since I first saw Coldplay at a tiny, underground, fifty-capacity venue in their home county pre-Parachutes era, really done the damage that the music press so often glamourize but fail to truly give a shit about?


My mind got to thinking – it’s almost like that expression: Give a man enough rope… Or maybe we are all just dumb-suck sheep waiting for the next fix of opium to distract us from our meaningless lives.

I entertained these thoughts for a little while until I realized – as the chords to Yellow began – and tears actually did stream down my face (thanks, Fix You), you know what?  Hateful judgements only stem from our own inadequacies, man.  We only hate because we fail to love ourselves.  Deep; dudes.  Hey, I could be ruling the world and imparting my lyrical wisdom on this here universe; in the same time it has taken these boys to climb the commercial ladder of success.  For that, I cry – and I cry hard.  I almost ask the person next to me to pat me soothingly on the back: “Let it all out, dear…”  I refrain.  Instead, I find myself welling up and watching like a proud mother with a huge, emotionally-off-kilter Joker imitative grin that could crack into The Scream at any moment.  See – that’s what music does to me.

Don’t even get me started on Michael Jackson’s You Are Not Alone.  Many a moment crying over old love-notes and sniffing Lynx Safari from the etched, blotso ink.  Thankfully for my family, this did not escalate into a toxic inhalation experiment through my teens.

But I did develop a somewhat unhealthy obsession with phoning in to the national BBC radio station.  I imagined that Mark Goodier was like my personal friend – I would attempt to put on my best, well-spoken accent as I requested a Beverly Craven track – or quite possibly, if I had been musically-awakened at that point through the CD Club Con that demanded you purchase twelve cassette tapes per annum, it might have been Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge.  I liked to think I was in-tune with the aching, wrist-slitting euphoria of the early 90s.

So back to Coldplay.

The scalpers behind me were whooping and cheering like eleven year-olds on helium.  Enjoying the gig that nicely accumulated them a big, fat wedge of notes in their pockets.  Noone does it for love, anymore.  It’s a business – accept it and move on.

But you see, that’s where I can’t accept and move on.  Like the Gomez gig earlier in the week, it took me back to my first work experience at the NME in London – my first attempt at writing an on-the-pulse (yet humourous, yet flamboyant, yet ridiculous) review of their Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline record.  Who needs a therapist and regression when you can simply make a date to rendezvous with your favourite bands, from your childhood days?

Every so often I caught sight of Chris Martin turn away from the main mass of onlookers to the front of the stage (us scalpees stood at the rear which proved a convenient inconvenience as the resultant photos made it appear that we were in fact, in the VIP area, standing amongst the nearest and dearest of the musicians, by the curtains on the stage) and chivvy on Will Champion with a cheeky smile.  Phew.  My mind was eased – fame and fortune had not scrambled these guys into drug-addicts, thank God.  Chris Martin might look more and more like a leathery, shaved old hen but it’s reassuring to know that this is likely to be more due to the raw diets and Prana Yoga routines that Gwyneth inflicts on him, rather than any chemically-chronic condition.

Considering my own lack of stardom in the years since I first saw these guys play Shiver I wanted to ask myself what the fuck I’d been doing.  But mostly, I wanted to ask these men, did you get what you wanted?  Is this adoration enough to sustain you or is it empty compared to the love you felt growing up, from your families and friends?  Is it all just a cruel illusion that catapults you into the limelight and before you know it, you’re the puppet with the ventriloquist’s arm up your arse?

Talking of arses…


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