Coldplay came to Melbourne in 2009 and sold out Rod Laver Arena. I was there to cover the show on behalf of Myspace.
It was the first time I’d seen Chris Martin and the band live since 2001 when I was a 17-year-old at the Melbourne Big Day Out. The world was only just getting to know Coldplay and their single ‘Yellow’. They played the main stage at 1 or 2pm in the afternoon and there was three rows of punters at the barrier. I wasn’t there because I was a fan per se; I liked the single but was quite indifferent towards the band – I was there because there was a gap in my schedule for the day and with such few punters, there was the opportunity for me & my BFF (Miss you Ciar-bear! Come back to Oz soon x) to be at the barrier – a story I could take back to school the next day.
It wasn’t until a few years later when they had become one of the world’s biggest bands and toured Australia, playing Rod Laver Arena for the first time, that my curiosity peaked. My older brother and his wife had recently moved back from the UK and bought tickets. As an indie band fan attempting to tow the purist-line, I ribbed my brother on his Coldplay ticket purchase; Informing him how uncool he was.
In his defence, he recounted how he had been at Roskilde Festival in Denmark a couple of years before and despite not being a fan of the band prior, had had an almost religious experience, when Coldplay played at 3am. He said he was completely struck at Chris Martin ‘holding the audience in the palm of his hand’ for the entire set, tens of thousands of people spell-bound in the wee hours of the morning.
Not withstanding him buying me a Mavis’ album for my 12th birthday, my brother had never led me astray musically and almost instantly, I wished I had tickets too.
Fast-forward to 2009, my music photography career was well-underway and I was standing in the pit at Rod Laver, nervously awaiting the band to walk the stage. Nervous because there was upwards of a dozen shooters and we could only shoot from the left of the catwalk at the far left of the stage meaning limited space, limited angles, it would be highly unlikely that any of the band would venture to the catwalk on our side of the stage which meant shooting from a huge distance and much risk that you’d be in the wrong place if ‘that’ moment happened.
It was pretty much exactly the case but during the dying seconds of the third song, Chris Martin dashed across the stage and down the catwalk in front of us. All the newspaper and agency pro’s had been using 300mm and longer lenses on tripods and struggled to quickly change camera’s to a wider lens while I and others who’d struggled with the distance shots because of only owning 200mm hand held use lenses were able to change instantly. Having said that, my reaction was delayed as I’d got bored of the uninteresting distance shots and had tuned into the song, completely spell-bound by the band and the audience’s complete investment in them. I was slow to register his dash and when I did, I panicked and the adrenaline rendered my hands useless. I was fumbling with cameras as Chris Martin’s feet ran 1 metre past my face and I was instantly crushed at the realisation that I’d missed my moment.
And then, Chris Martin fell to the floor in front of me.
He literally dropped to his knees, then to his back for barely 5 seconds, belting out the finale of the song. The photographers to my left would only have photographed a faceless singer on the floor thanks to the angle, the photographers to my right had the legs of the guitarist obstructing their view. I got one frame. And that was all I needed.