Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Filling My Head With Dreams of Coldplay

A week after the NME Awards, I had recovered from my flu - or so I thought. I'd spent the weekend in Birmingham, and returned to London pretty certain I wouldn't make it into the War Child show at the O2. I hadn't won tickets in the ballot, and due to the Epic iPhone Fail of 2016 (which, I am happy to report has now been reversed, and my Hackney pictures restored!) I had missed general ticket sales. Oh, how unfair my life is - I could have walked home afterwards!

Just for fun, I called up War Child on the Monday morning, to ask about VIP tickets. "Oh, yeah, 500 Pounds each? So unfortunate they're all sold out... yes definitely put my name down on the list in case you get any more." I hung up the phone, wincing. I may be insane, but not quite insane enough to spend 75% of a month's rent on a Coldplay ticket, when I'd already seen them twice in the past two months. Maybe if I hadn't gone to the NME Awards. Imagine my surprise when War Child emailed me back two hours later saying they'd just had some come available, at 250 each. I debatated it for about ten seconds, before my common sense kicked it, and I emailed back to say that unfortunately I'd not realised that the show was taking place after the BRIT Awards, and that it was a bit late for me. I could feel the dishonesty radiating from my body.

Undeterred by my lack of funds, the freezing weather and the fact that the show started at 11pm, I hit up Gumtree in the hopes of finding someone with an face-value ticket. I don't support buying from touts, but I do believe it is okay for a geniune fan to purchase a face-value ticket from another human being. My prayers were answered in the form of a woman called Susan-who-was-actually-her-son-whose-friend-couldn't-make-it.

Strolling around near the O2 at 7pm, I kept an eye out for celebrities attending the BRIT Awards that evening, though I only managed to spot Carl Barat from the Libertine (who did not return my greeting as he walked from the car park) and a massive Hummer-limo contraption that could only have belonged to Rih Rih or the Bieb. And so 8pm saw me standing outside the Slug and Lettuce, still shivering in my lace dress and heels because I will never learn to dress appropriately for the English winter.

It was a surreal moment, when the screens inside the restaurant flipped to the live television coverage of the BRITs, and Coldplay blasted onto the stage with Hymn For The Weekend. How weird to think that this was all happening a few meters from where I was standing - just on the other side of that wall!

After a few hours in the queue, we were let into the tiny venue that is the Indigo club, where I had never been, despite literally being able to see the O2 from my bedroom window. I wish I could say that I was getting used to seeing Coldplay in such small venues, but it's not something one can ever really get used to. Despite the rumour of the Bieb being the opening act, it transpired that the opening act was really a duo of DJs, playing a very interesting mix of what may have been BoB Marley and rave. When they did play a Bieber song, 20 minutes before showtime, it was evident that most of the audience must have heard the same rumour I had. But no, definitely no Biebs were present.

By now one thing that was becoming familar was the tension in the air as soon as the audience glimpses the brightly coloured stage decorations that mark the A Head Full of Dreams era. And so, after a short introduction to War Child and their cause (which you can donate to by visiting their website) the band in question erupted onto stage with none other than the title track from the new album. Ah, Chris. (And the rest, of course, I mean it's not like I'm in love with him or anything). So full of smiles and grins and happiness. I saw him described somewhere as "a happy little jelly bean" and that's exactly how he's coming across tonight. I'm ecstatic at the appearance of 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall', and I'm screaming along to 'waaaaaaaaaaterfall' at the top of my lungs, having entirely forgotten to pretend to be cool for the sake of my concert buddies, who I met three hours ago. 'Charlie Brown' is a highlight once again, it is an utterly euphoric song to experience live, and never fails to astound me. Coldplay is an experience rather than a band.

I'm holding my breath for 'Hymn For The Weekend' but as they've already played it at the BRITs ceremony, I'm not sure if we'll get it. But, oh boy do we get it! Chris flails around the stage in his typical endearing manner, and although I can tell he's not taking himself seriously at all, his vocals are flawless. The award for Best British Band is so well deserved that it's almost laughable. Can any other band even begin to touch this? 'Fix You' is always the emotional highlight, but this time I went to pieces during 'Viva La Vida' because the true weight of the situation hit me - this album had gotten me through a very rough year - 2008 - and there had never even been one bone in my body that had believed that I would come out of it okay, and that I would be seeing this phenomenal band so close to my home, on a casual Wednesday night. I was pretty glad that The Scientist did not make an appearance - despite being my favourite Coldplay song; my makeup wasn't waterproof.

After 'A Sky Full of Stars' (cue stooping to stuff my handbag with more confetti - I'm aiming to have enough to paper my walls by the end of the year), the band left and came back for an encore in the form of perhaps the most unexpected song (I'd have called Magic, Everglow or Up & Up here). "This is a song we wrote in 2005 - we gave it to Justin Beiber, well he was only 3 but he knew he wouldn't like Coldplay very much" Chris quipped affably. "But really, we wrote this song for Johnny Cash - it's called Til Kingdom Come". I gasped audibly and fumbled for my camera to record it. Ever since I'd first heard that the song was written for Johnny, I've always imagined him singing it, but of course Coldplay do it flawlessly.

And so that was that - it was 12.30am on Thursday, I had to be at work on the other side of London in less than 8 hours, it was below zero degrees, but I was skipping home. The next day I would realise that my voice had been decimated, and I'd be unable to speak properly for at least three days. I'd live on coffee to get me through work for 9 hours, but I'd wax lyrical about this show for about 90 years. I could easily not have gone - saved myself 80 quid and gotten an early night, but that's not the way I choose to live.

iPhone 4 camera quality killed my vibe :(