© Melissa Dalton-Bradford and melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com, 2012. This work (text and images) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. . . which means, as long you’re not selling it, you’re welcome to share, but please remember to give me a link and mention my name.
Melissa Dalton-Bradford (MDB): Dalton, Luc, it’s post-show, the flash and buzz have dimmed a bit, you’re both already deep into a new school year.
But before we get too far away from it all, I want to be sure to nail down your feelings about Coldplay and their concert. I hope I got some good shots and I know Dad got some great iPhone footage. So, how about we sit and chat about how you two felt about the Coldplay concert. Sound good?
Dalton Haakon Bradford (DHB) and Luc William Bradford (LWB) : (In unison) For the blog, right?
MDB: Well, uh-huh, for the blog, yeah. But for me. And for you, too. We call this “processing,” sons.
DHB: Okay, fire away. Process. (He settles into his red beanbag chair, clears his throat, tucks his hands between his knees and stares at me. Intently.)
LWB: (Looking at brother, flops on bed, twiddles a dozen neon-colored rubber wrist band in his fingers.) Go for it.
MDB: Luc, what was your favorite moment of our trip to Copenhagen?
LWB: You mean favorite moment of the last year, maybe, or yeeeeearsss? ‘Cause it was the Coldplay concert, of coursssse. Nothing better than thaaat.
MDB: Dalton, you agree?
DWB: (Eyebrows raised, head cocked forward, hands open with palms flat toward the heavens like, “You serious?”)
MDB: Right. So, can you answer the question, Dalton, Why Coldplay? What’s their magic formula?
DHB: I think that to see a band grow so big that originally — they started way back in 1998, I think — that at first was very meek and intimate-sounding, that’s part of the formula. You know, the formula isn’t that complex or anything. It’s not a big band, it’s got just these four everyday kinda guys, not a whole team of back up dancers and ten different wardrobe changes in a single concert.
LWB: (Still lying flat on his back on the bed. Arms spread wide and spindly over the edge. Oversized feet making a 90˚ angle out of his profile.) Except they changed out of their sweaty T-shirts a couple of times.
MDB: And thank goodness, is what I’m saying.
DHB: Yeah, but no flashy stuff, right? No synchronized dancers and lip-synching and dresses—
LWB: (He whips his head toward his brother.) They wear dresses?
DHB: I mean, what I was gonna say was no dresses out of raw meat. For instance.
LWB: You getting all this, Mom?
MDB: (Clickety-clickety-clickety. . .) Dalton, continue.
DHB: If you see Coldplay now, as a band — as a unit — they haven’t changed so very much from the start. Maybe Chris Martin has evolved some with a stronger voice and a greater focus in lyric writing. But as a whole they’ve perfected their talents and brought out what they can do best. They’re still with that original one-plus-one-equals-two formula, but they are arguably the biggest, most famous band in the world right now.
LWB: And we went to their coooncert! (Arms flopping all directions, Luc imitates an eighty-five-pound caterpillar being turned on a spit.)
DHB: Luc, seriously. We doin’ bidniss here.
(Just one of the thirteen-thousand random quotes our family seems to interject into every conversation.)
MDB: Dal-ton. Con-tin-ue.
DHB: The Coldplay formula is by and large nothing short of pure raw natural talent.
MDB: Okay, so no raw meat, just raw talent. And talent for. . .?
DHB: They can play each other’s instruments, for starters, but they still do their own roles really, really well. Will Champion, the drummer, also plays like every last instrument on the planet—
MDB: Lute? Harpischord?
DHB: Mom. Rockband. So once, there’s this concert when Chris Martin [the lead singer with steal blue eyes and an irrepressibly affable persona and a wife named Gwyneth Paltrow and children named Apple and Moses] says at one point, OK, this is the moment we show you how good our bland really could have been. And so right then, Will Champion takes Jonny’s [Jonny Buckland, their lead guitarist] guitar and he sings a song he wrote. And it’s really good. He can really sing. Really play.
LWB: You serious? (He’s raised his head.)
LWB: (Groans and flops face first into the pillow. From the depths of mattress, he mumbles.) Okay, like I only play some piano, some drums and the clarinet.
LWB: Mom?!! (Meerkat springs up at full attention, eyeballs protruding like billiard balls, that behold-how-I-have-absorbed-the-villan’s-cosmic-affront look quivering from every muscle.)
MDB: Guys. The blog. Dalton, what do we say?
DHB: Kay. Sorry. But kinda. And still better than me.
MDB: Better than I.
DHB: Mom. The blog.
MDB: Coldplay’s formula, men. How does it work?
DHB: There’s no unnecessary pizzazz, no wacky costumes that fashion designers have thought up to capitalize on this “artist’s” career, kind of like parasites, you know, making their designer career bigger on the back of someone else’s music career. Like Coldplay, think about it, what did they wear?
LWB: Homemade T-shirts. No logos, even. Mom would have even let us wear that. And they wore baseball caps. Which Mom wouldn’t have let us wear. (Preteen evil eye.)
DHB: Like the band members could have been the audience members themselves, you know?
MDB: Hmm . . . so . . . do you think that’s a gimmick? A strategy? Trying to stay right on the level of your audience? Play the Jedermann?
LWB: I don’t even think Will Champion plays that one.
MDB: No, that means Everyman. Trying to be your Joe Schmoe off the street. I mean, these guys are multi-millionares now. Ultrafamous. Scary big. They could wear flashy jumpsuits like Elvis. They could be Elton John. Or Lady Gaga.
DHB: Gross. Never.
LWB: Gag! Gaga. (Writhes and squirms, gripping throat with both hands.)
MDB: Actually, let’s go with this: Why a Coldplay concert over a Lady Gaga concert, guys? She was on all those posters in the middle of Copenhagen. Should we have gotten tickets to her thing instead?
LWB: No way! Coldplay all the way! (Up on his knees on the bed, now, pounding fists into his thighs with every syllable.) Lady Gaga’s concerts are strange, vulgar, yicky. They don’t make sense, and all in the wrong way, and she says everywhere that she’s just being unique, but she’s just being a . . . a . . . spectacle.
DHB: Good word, Luc.
MDB: Nice compliment, Dalton.
LWB: But Coldplay has meaning we can relate to. (Standing on bed, posing oddly and speaking in a girl’s voice), “I’m just so different, so born this way.” First of all, (one finger extended) no one’s born with horns implanted in their head. Second of all, (two fingers for emphasis), I think she’s just copying Madonna—well, going beyond her. For some people who are really way, way out there and forgotten by the world, that might feel comforting. I dunno. Horns and meat dresses, you know. But you can always, always relate to Coldplay. This music is smart. Lady Gaga’s just . . .not.
MDB: Luc William Bradford, you willing to go on record with that statement?
LWB: Print it, Melissa Dalton-Bradford.
MDB: Because, well, I think Lady Gaga’s pretty darn smart. She’s sure got something figured out to become a person whose reputation has spread as far as a small village in Switzerland where we who don’t really like her or her music that much, are talking about her. So she’s unquestionably smart about something. Right? At least about marketing. You think?
DHB: Then why are we even talking about her?
MDB: Moving on.
DHB: Still can’t beat Will Champion for musical instruments, though.
MDB: Yeah, not going to be seeing any lutes or harpsichords in Lady Gaga’s act soon, either. Bummer.
LWB: (Eyes half closed, pointer finger in warning position like a grandpa hoisting himself out of the sunken marks of his old living room LazyBoy recliner) Ah, but you might. (He releases the pose then flops back down.)
DHB: But see, you could [have lutes and harpsichords] with Coldplay, and it would make sense. But it wouldn’t be for spectacle.
MDB: Got a point there, genius.
DHB: It would be for the sake of musical inventiveness and to support the lyric. Because they don’t need spectacle. Their show augments what is already excellent, excellent within its genre. Doesn’t depend on the spangley stuff or pyrotechnics.
MDB: Pretty darned good spectacle at this concert, though, I’d have to say. I mean, we were at the same stadium, weren’t we? Or am I the only one who remembers fireworks, tons of butterfly confetti. . .
. . . Huge helium-inflated glow-in-the-dark orbs being tossed around the audience?. . .
. . . The titanic-sized hot pink graffiti-drenched hearts?. . .
. . . No spectacle? Really?
DHB: Of course there was. But not to mask weak music or to compensate for mediocre talent.
MDB: Ooooo. Touché! Way to take a stand, Monsieur. Um, speaking of lyrics, what about Coldplay’s?
LWB: I like that they never swear in their songs, I like that a lot. Most other bands these days do, even if just here and there. Bands that people these day are huge fans of, obviously parents are probably just saying that the swearing’s okay ‘cause their kids’ll hear worse stuff at school, and maybe they think the kids aren’t listening to the words, they’re just there for the beat. Which isn’t true. You get the language. But Coldplay, you can enjoy without all those swear words.
MDB: But I’ve heard some of today’s music. It’s not just the crass language, but the dumbness. Like ding-dong emptiness — that’s a concern. But what’s worse is the violence and the suggestiveness. Well, not even suggestiveness. Just pornographic. And so soul-draining.
DHB: Coldplay’s completely clean. And intelligent. Their lyrics aren’t only curse-word-free. The most suggestive lyric I’ve ever heard is, “Its not easy when she turns you on.” That’s it. Not steamy, They aren’t trying to be controversial. They aren’t trying to prove themselves. They’re doing what they do best.
LWB: And, can I just say, I like “Charlie Brown.”
MDB: Who can not like him? Or that song? You know, they do some tricky things with time signatures in that song, did you notice?
MDB: Oh, yeah, shifting back and forth all over the place. Not simple stuff.
LWB: Personally, I loved the way the wristbands blinked with the exact rhythm of the music . . .
. . . How the animated walking man appeared on screens. I just felt so incredibly happy in that moment.
. . . Like, okay I’ll say it. Did anyone else feel like they could have cried? Sorta?
DHB: OK, ‘cause I thought you just like “Charlie Brown” because of the lyrics: (Dalton sings):
When they smashed my heart into smithereens
I be a bright red rose come bursting the concrete (Luc joins him):
Be the cartoon heart, light a fire, light a spark
Light a fire, a flame in my heart.
MDB: And what’s the “deepest” one of their lyrics, do you think?
LWB: “Fix You.”
DHB: “Fix You.”
DMB, MDB, LWB: (We sing it together. Because we have before):
When the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.
MDB: Luc, what does that one say to you?
LWB: It’s a hard topic everyone can relate to at some point, maybe, I think. About losing something, someone, and wishing so hard you could get that thing or person back, then having someone else try to fix that for you in some way. Or maybe the someone you lose is the one trying to fix you. With lights. Maybe they are the lights. Guiding you home.
DHB: But my favorite song is “Paradise.” Just this morning on the bus ride to school, I was listening to it, and had to conclude right then that it undoubtedly will be one of the greatest songs of the decade.
(Here, Dalton sings a riff. Then beats a drum phrase on his thigh. Then compares it all to a Beatle’s riff.)
DHB: If you didn’t have the bass riff in “Paradise” for instance, it would be empty. Unsupported. You have the full use of strings, synths, right? (He acts out strings and synths.) Then this impossibly huge explosion (he explodes) and this strong, I’d call it forceful melody. (And he launches into full air guitar version of the forceful “Paradise” melody.)
MDB: (Resumes typing.) What do you think of Alex Boyé’s and the Piano Guys’ version of it?
DHB: They took a great tune and added another dimension to it. All the lyrics are in Swahili. “Pepo-pepo-peponi.” (He begins singing the chorus. He moves like Boyé. On a mountain top. Luc starts fake playing a piano from the bed. I add the cello. )
MDB: But someone, your grandparents, for instance—
LWB: Omi and Opa?
MDB: Omi and Opa might argue that these lyrics are repetitive. Mundane.
DHB: Strong, language, young lady.
DHB: Look. You need repetition so the whole stadium of 50,000-plus spectators can sing along. Remember how that was? How incredible?
MDB: Well, no kidding. Of course I do. You bet! Hey, you don’t need to convince me. It’s Omi and Opa — the opera singer and the music professor, remember ? You have to convince them.
DHB: Right. See, there are other popular lyrics like “Bay-by, bay-by, bay-by, ooooo”, which are repetitive, you could even say “universal”. But who wants to chant about wanting a Baby, Baby, Baby over wanting Paradise? Case closed. I’d say there’s a difference.
MDB: Point well taken. Luc William, your favorite moment in the concert, sir?
LWB: The second our wristbands went on the first time. WOW. And when the wristbands blinked in time to Charlie Brown. Then those confetti butterflies.
I don’t know, the whole thing was just an all over big human experience of happiness and togetherness.
MDB: And Dalton Haakon? Favorite moment?
DHB: OK, Hard question. Maybe it was “Warning Sign”, which is not so well known, and Chris Martin even said once he thought it was too boring and “internal” to be marketable. But that he himself liked it. They played it at the concert without percussion, pretty naked, musically. To tell you the truth, it’s the song that won me over first:
Come on in
I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in
I’ve gotta tell you in my loudest tones
That I started looking for a warning sign
When the truth is, I miss you
Yeah the truth is, that I miss you so
A warning sign
It came back to haunt me, and I realised
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover
And I’m tired, I should not have let you go
So I crawl back into your open arms
Yes I crawl back into your open arms
And I crawl back into your open arms
Yes I crawl back into your open arms.
LWB: And what was your favorite part, Mom?
MDB: You interview me now, is that it? Good enough. I’d say everything you two have just said, but there’s something that’s way above all the rest. You don’t know this, but I have a kind of particular connection to “Viva la Vida”, and so when they finally came to it in their program, I don’t know, I just wanted to fly out of my seat and run through all the rows, hugging every single last stranger in that whole loud stadium.
LWB: We are so glad you didn’t.
DHB: Yeah, good thing we were packed in in that top row up there, right, Luc?
MDB: And when Chris Martin collapsed, remember that? Hello, this is a difficult yoga move, I wanna point that out.
. . . And we had to keep singing the chorus over and over and over to get him off the floor? Remember?
MDB: I really got that moment. I think I might have had — I know I did have — tears in my eyes, guys . . . So . . . anyway . . . Anything you might not have liked so much about the concert? Anything?
LWB: Ah, well, there was a bit of beer and cigarettes a few rows from us. That’s not so great. But I kept clear of the smoke.
MDB: Did it make you feel uncomfortable, though? You know I’m not a big fan. At all.
DHB: Since Copenhagen is the Carlsberg beer capital of the world, I sort of expected some drinking at a big concert like this. How do you avoid being around it? I’m just glad you never get that at Music and the Spoken Word.
LWB: I just focused on the music and all the people around me who weren’t drinking and were still having a great time, singing together and smiling for real and being part of a fantastic, incredible, awesome experience.
MDB: You mean the worst part wasn’t walking home afterwards? Walking for two hours all the way across town? Without toilets? Without food? Getting home at 2:00 a.m.?
DHB: That was “savor” time. Didn’t mind it. I was in another world the whole way, really.
MDB: And last question, gents: If you were somehow magically granted back stage passes and could talk to Chris Martin and his crew face-to-face, what would you want to tell them?
LWB: I’d say, “Brilliant, it was the best concert I could have imagined—even better than that — and I’m thankful I was one of the people who got to be there. You made me so happy that night.”
DHB: Backstage passes?!! That would be the most surreal scenario. But if you’re thinking up some plan for the next time you spring a big move on us, then I’d go with it. Seriously, I would want to talk to all the band members at once, by myself, face-to-face, no interruptions, quietly. Like that, alone and private, I’d tell them that my big brother Parker knew them before they released “Viva la Vida” in 2008. And that song came out the year after he passed away. I would say to them, “My big brother loved your music. Before you were ever huge. Thank you for making such good music so that I could love it, too. And be right here.”