This week saw the culmination of a run of Coldplay concerts in London. For 10 days London’s Wembley stadium was filled to the rafters, not a spare seat in the famous venue, not a patch of grass available on the iconic pitch as probably the world’s most famous band entertained with their mixture of Rock and Folk at decibel levels unrivalled and with visuals that export the crowd to another dimension. This is more than a concert, more than a show it’s a life affirming event, a bucket list once in a lifetime experience fans travel the world to see, but not just to see but to be a part of. To be at a Coldplay concert converts the attendee into being a living breathing organic part of the show.
Interestingly, as much as being at the event and enjoying the spectacle, those privileged enough to attend seem hell bent on capturing every moment of the Coldplay experience. Fans wake up on the day of the show and turn to social media text and email to broadcast to their friend’s family and network how excited they are. Fans capture their commute to the stadium, bus rides, train journeys, taxis and bicycle rides fill the ether as crowds descend on Wembley. The famous walk down Wembley way is inundated with couples, friends and colleagues snapping video and selfies that can be shared by whats app, email, and Bulk SMS.
Social media is awash with video and photos, inboxes are overloaded and data heavy as the Coldplay experience dominates mobile telecommunications and the age of sharing via multiple digital platforms creates a wave of content that normal fans seem intent on capturing and sharing. Every single fan in attendance, all one hundred thousand of them enter the venue mobile phone in hand hell bent on capturing and sharing THAT moment.
To be clear, Coldplay is more than just a concert, more than an opportunity to see a band play live and hear and sing along to some of their famous tunes. A Coldplay concert is a visual spectacle a unique awe-inspiring light show accompanies the much-loved music. Those in the stadium are given wrist bands that light up and shine along with the music creating a sensational fusion of audio and video which when accompanied by the voices of the one hundred thousand in attendance gives birth to the most innovative, magnificent energetic experience. An experience all believe they have an obligation to share.
People sit and stand and dance and sing for two and half hours. People jump and wave and scream and shout, for two and a half hours, but all the while they have a mobile phone in hand, capturing video taking photos and sadly missing out on the true experience in favor of capture and sharing. Few are seen simply watching the band, enjoying the visuals and hearing the music via their naked senses. Hearing, seeing, feeling experiencing gives way to capturing and sharing and the entire event is a mobile phone production.
This does not go unnoticed and mid way through the show, the ever-pragmatic lead singer of Coldplay Chris Martin addresses the crowd. Chris asks that everyone put away their phones turns off the torches and simply for one song only enjoy the reality of what is around them. He asks for the front of the stadium to sing to the back of the stadium and visa versa to really connect with each other. It is a seminal moment as in some way it is a microcosmic example of society as we know it, Chris is asking us to stop and take a moment!
It is not lost on him or the band that this tiny sacrifice he is asking of the crowd may come at a price. He reassures everyone they can return to their phone and go to Cold Play on YouTube, go back to their texts and social media for the next song and that even this moment is being captured somewhere by someone.
They say we are captured on camera two hundred times a day in London, and Coldplay know this. Let’s be clear the capturing and sharing comes with commercial benefit and fans clamor for unique content but let’s be more like Chris lets pause every now and again and appreciate what we are experiencing, interestingly that pause is an enhancing moment!