Following a five hundred mile seven hour drive, there was a whirlwind check in at the Hilton Omaha, a quick pop into a close by pub for some appetizers and a Stella Artois or two, then off to the Omaha Qwest Center to see Coldplay. Of course my heart started pumping on the walk over to the Qwest Center as it appeared before us. I just wanted to be inside, I just wanted Coldplay on stage.
My nerves were a bit on edge in line for security as I had a couple of cameras, but quickly enough I was relieved to be following a concrete block maze through a door that said Main Floor. Then it hit me, Main Floor. When I saw Coldplay in Denver, we had decent seats but we were on the opposite side of the venue. It still changed me, that night across the arena. Tonight was going to be different, it was going to be main floor intimate.
The entry into the main floor was from the back, we kept walking further and further up front. I thought it was time to stop, but I was still ten rows behind our seats. Row 15, absolutely incredible. We arrived at our seats during Snow Patrol's set. Nice chaps. My only thought, okay boys wrap it up. Did you catch the five hundred mile drive part of my story, I was there for Coldplay. Someday I'll give Snow Patrol the attention they deserve. I did enjoy their Irish accents, always delightful an accent in my book. Before I knew it the band was off, we were moving from our seats so some crew members could climb up a rope ladder to take care of some business high above our heads. A black screen appeared in front of the stage, about thirty crew members all dressed in black took to their jobs.
I managed to chat up an official looking Coldplay Tour guy, an older gentleman with a distinctive black hat on. I was asking him where Anchorman or Roadie#42 were (both update for the band on Twitter), he wasn't having it. He told me it wouldn't be much fun if I knew, but I really wanted to see them with my own two eyes. Who knows maybe he WAS one of them. Dry British humor. Aww, shucks. He slipped back into the darkness of the stage.
Music started to play loudly. The anticipation began to build. Enter adrenaline.
A crew member was walking around sweeping the stage. He was lingering on the platform that came off of the main stage to about five feet in front of me. Coldplay has two runways on each side of the stage off the main stage, which they use to mingle into the crowd. Then before our very own eyes, the crew member started dancing. He was quite the delight, his moves were fabulous. He was the hook that gave the audience the energy it needed to will the band out. Turns out the crew member has been dubbed "Dancing Wayne" and is a part of the show segway/opener. If you are seeing the band this tour, make sure to not be in the bathroom or beer line for Wayne, he's awesome.
The black screen was still down in front of the stage. Behind it we could see the band come bounding in, holding sparklers. Anticipation began to build even more. It was a big tease, there they were but they were concealed partially by the screen.
Finally the screen was lifted, my eyes focus taking it all in.
Jonny, Chris, Will, and Guy all adorned in their personally designed touring outfits appeared. Black jackets and trousers a bit tattered and worn, bright colors, and an energy that's not quite comparable to any other band i've seen. Life In Technicolor is played, luring the audience in for the start of an unforgettable evening. Everyone knows a Coldplay song, everyone has their opinion it seems, to have a true love for the band or a less then favorable opinion. But when I say, don't judge Coldplay until you see them live, I really mean it.
Chris Martin appears less than five feet away from me on the catwalk. I can't quite process my proximity to him or the band for that matter. Coldplay fills an arena like Ben Harper fills a club. Their energy makes you feel like your watching an intimate production with 11,000 of your closest friends. How in the world they do that, I haven't a clue. Maybe it's magic. Or maybe it's talent and love for music.
Through out the entire show, Coldplay has a myriad of surprises in store for the audience. First the sparklers and the screen, followed by large balls which drop from the ceiling that amazingly project the band in action. You catch a glimpse of them from the corner of your eye and before you know it, you're lured in watching a projection on a round ball. During Yellow huge yellow balloons appear and begin to bounce off the fingertips of audience members on the main floor. The balloons elicit a happiness like no other, live music takes over my body the drums and guitar, Chris' voice belting out the lyrics that have become forever imprinted in my mind, I feel a glimpse of my youth as I reach to tap the balloon up into the sky. Chris asks for a balloon to be sent his way at the songs end, he pops it like a rockstar would with his guitar. Confetti flies from the popped balloon and applause turns into a roar from the adoring fans. Magic.
Moments pass, songs, and video projections. Chris Martin dances around from end to end of the stage with such fluidity and rhythm. He doesn't give the performance just his musical talent, his heart seems to ooze with each arm swinging and leg kicking move. He throws himself on the ground a few times right in front of me. I see his body on the ground and imagine so many things. He bounces up when the audience starts to respond to him, he drops down again wanting more of a reaction. The crowd pulls through, he's up again bounding off to the piano. A few times through out the show, he arches his back and bends in a yoga perfect inversion to get off his piano stool. Incredible. Chris is constantly joking with the crowd, engaging the audience with his humor and wit. I keep thinking can this guy be any more likable and he manages to top whatever previously lured me in.
A yellow caution tape gets rolled out next to my body as I stand on the very end of Row 15, seat 38. The aisle is next to me and I know what is coming up. After Lost, the entire band starts heading towards the side stage where I am just feet from the platform. Big security guards appear. The band jumps down off the platform and I seize the moment. The moment to touch every member of the band. In my mind, I envision high fives, eye contact, and exchanges of smiles. My chance doesn't quite transpire the way my mind wanted, but I would never utter a word of complaint. Jonny Buckland actually high fived me like the nice gentlemen he is, then Will and Guy passed so quickly I barely caught a glimpse of them for my eyes were on the emerging Chris Martin. I reached out hoping for a high five, but no luck. So I reached a bit further and simply stole a touch. My hand was covered in Chris Martin's sweat, I looked down on it and had thoughts which I will not share. I touched Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland embraced my hand. I would never be the same. Incredible. Yes it was captured below:
The band proceeded to play a few songs in the back of the venue, like the generous musicians they are. They ended with a wonderful crowd bonding experience, the Mexican Cell Phone Wave. Fun and cheerful, just another reason to adore Coldplay and what they give to their fans.
Next surprise up, butterflies blow out of the side stage, up high into the air, reaching the ceiling. Thousands of colorful butterflies appear during Lovers in Japan. Butterflies raining on me. Butterflies making me smile so much that I can feel my cheeks hurting. I don't think I've wiped the smile off my face the entire show, from first seeing the lettering on the Arena. The reality of being in the presence of Coldplay is sometimes too much too handle. But the butterflies keep coming and I am in heaven. Now the butterflies I collected will be turned into a mobile to decorate my daughters' bedroom.
Chris takes to the stage alone to play a few songs on the opposite side catwalk. He plays Hardest Part straight into Postcards From Far Away, my favorite piano instrumental. The song brings tears to my eyes, it's beautiful. It's playing live, once again my ears, eyes, senses all try to process what's going on. My brain is on euphoric overload.
I brought a camera with me and a small Sony Webbie to capture some of the evening. The problem I run into is that I am too mesmerized watching the band, taking everything in to be distracted by the technology and recording the show. It's hard work holding the camera still enough through a song. And who wants to see Coldplay on a two inch LCD when they are a few yards in front of you. I didn't, I wanted to take in the moment, every beautiful minute I had in the presence of the band playing live. I take photos, they look blurry. Some moments I can't be bothered. I created a little video of some of my snippets, they were great. Now I wish they were longer. I recorded three songs total out of twenty six. Mesmerized I tell you. Mesmerized enough to not want to take my eyes off the stage for a minute.
Twenty six songs. A night to remember. I joined a group on Facebook after seeing the Denver show called All I Need Is Coldplay. After this evening it might just be true. That is the Coldplay live experience.
My YouTube channel can be found here EatplayloveCO, it's got the four videos I am in the process of uploading. If they aren't all there, they will be soon. The clips, The Hardest Part, 42, and The Scientist.
I must end with gratitude, a special thanks to the stranger that sold my 15th row tickets cheaper then face value on StubHub, a special thanks to my friend KDV who graciously volunteered to take the journey with me even though she wasn't a big fan (that has changed), a special thanks to a couple of guys that were seated behind us that helped me stay grounded in the beauty that is Coldplay invoking pure happiness, and a very special thanks to Coldplay for making music into a magical experience. I'll never be the same...