A musical juxtaposition

Posted by Lou. The time is 6.45pm here in London, UK.

On Friday I had the rather bizarre experience of seeing Coldplay at a sold-out Wembley Stadium, supported by Girls Aloud and Jay-Z. Yes, Girls Aloud and Jay-Z. I know. [For anyone wondering, Girls Aloud are the biggest girl group in the UK, having emerged from a reality talent show years back. If you're wondering who Jay-Z is you need to get out more.] This was followed up by the magnificence of Michael Ball at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, completing the journey through a weird and (mostly) wonderful combination of music performances.

I had expected Girls Aloud to be a bit shit, but was totally wrong. They were total shit. Utter, complete, embarrassing, cringeful shit. I knew that they can't sing, but had expected them to at least do a few moves, display some charisma, work the crowd... no. They just teetered on 6 inch heels looking terrified. Dismal. And made to look even more pathetically crap when Jay-Z walked out after them and set the whole fucken crowd alight - he exuded everything they didn't: charisma, talent, confidence, and the ability to wrap 50,000 Coldplay fans around his little finger. I've never known anyone to be so... so... electric.

I had mixed feelings about seeing Coldplay - these days I find it hard to get past Chris Martin's righteousness and my suspicion towards anyone who marries Gwyneth "Goop" Paltrow - but shouldn't have doubted them. Irrespective of whether or not you're a fan, the actual show itself was one of the best you'd ever see. Throughout their headlining 2 hours the staging moved and evolved through some fantastic backdrop visuals and fx, with my favourite being the entire back of the stage turning into a journey though the solar system. Speaking of favourites, they hit all mine by including Politik, Fix You and a fantastic encore performance of The Scientist into their set.

There was a total focus on the audience, with a tiny little stage appearing in the middle of the people at the very back in the standing arena that the guys walked out to for a few songs (one of which was a brilliant cover of Billie Jean, played to accompany a mobile phone mexican wave). Whilst the audience was largely screaming and clapping and dancing and singing, we seemed to find ourselves in the midst of lamesville, with those around us barely seeming alive. We moved to a different spot where we could see a Dad rocking out and loving it - realising very quickly that his enthusiasm actually stemmed from autistism (Coldplay haters can take what they will from that anecdote).

Saturday brought a strange, hazy, warm evening for visiting the glorious Royal Albert Hall and its vulgar neighbouring Albert Memorial (seriously - check out that hideously misuse of gold!) for Michael Ball. As usual, we arrived to see the usual crowd of old ladies and old men and then even more old ladies - a sea of pastels and silver. Then us. Three modern lasses aged 28-31 joining the grannies for a night of ol' Dimples.

The opening was very much to the grannies' tastes - the pop covers that brought him fame and infamy in Britain, and leave us very much unmoved and wishing he would move on to the good stuff. The women in front of us were sure loving it - prompting me to suspect that it was the closest any of them had been to cumming in years. However one pop song that quietened their claps and dancing was a song that perhaps the three of Young'uns were the only ones to recognise - Are We Human by The Killers. Oh dear. It was perhaps even stranger than the previous night's combo.

Luckily he quickly moved on to dazzle us with his perfect renditions of musicals numbers, including Gethsemane, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, I Know Where I've Been, Love Changes Everything, and Starlight Express. His backing singers were also excellent, with one in particular leaving us breathless with her I Don't Know How To Love Him, and another joining him for a fantastic duet of The Prayer. Hilariously, his penultimate number You Can't Stop the Beat led to the grannies leaping from their seats to swarm at the front of the stage for a bit of a boogie. And just when we thought it couldn't get better, he ended the night by blowing the roof off with a tear-inducing performance of The Impossible Dream. Oh, Michael.

2 thoughts on “A musical juxtaposition”

  1. That has to go down in history as one of the weirdest weekends of music ever!!
    I don't think you could even get a festival with that kind of range - certainly not spanning those amazing venues :D

    Did you check out 'Jaydiohead' as I suggested??