Jaideep Shergill: Cold shoulder for Coldplay

19 Sep,2016

By Jaideep Shergill


India is in the grip of a fever. Something so serious and unprecedented that’s its scary. No my friends, I am not talking about Dengue or Chikungunya or any other epidemic. I am talking about the fabled Coldplay concert planned for Mumbai later this year.


The insanity surrounding the lead up to the show puts even Beatlemania to shame. India hasn’t seen anything like this before. It’s startling how the citizenry of India has taken such a liking to a band from England which most of them have only heard of or at best watched on YouTube/television. Propelled by the mass mania which social networks now deliver, the manna from heaven is now being delivered by the quartet who have now become the biggest thing since ‘vada pav’ in Mumbai city.


However, this schizophrenic paranoia began long before Coldplay decided to play the concert. It all started the spark lit by Christopher “Chris” Anthony John Martin, co-founder of the British alternative rock band Coldplay, when he decided (on a sudden whim) to play an impromptu gig at Hauz Khas, Delhi back in July 2015. The grapevine that Chris will come back and play a concert with his band has been the hottest thing on all forms of chatter and has continued to dominate all forms of conversation for over a year. The grapevine and chatter, very quickly thereafter, turned into reality akin to the miracle of wine from water.


Finally, millions of fans were ecstatic with the announcement that Coldplay will grace India in November 2016. After this, the fever reached an all new pitch and things just have been spiraling out of control. Then came all the rumors, that tickets would start at Rs 25,000 a pop and that there were very few fans who would be let in. This stirred up the fire even faster and higher and fans, young and old were tearing they’re hair out to find ways to get their fix. Then came the news that tickets would open for sale at noon on September 15. This time around the tickets were priced starting at Rs 5000 going upto many many thousands. What happened next was insane. There were hundreds of thousands of people trying to book tickets and there were online queues running into hundreds of thousands and the Rs 5000 tickets sold out within minutes and within a couple of hours the whole range of tickets got gobbled up until the availability came down to tickets priced above Rs 50000. Now as a music buff, I have personally travelled to many part of the world and seen musicians and bands way bigger than Coldplay and even taking Cost of Living Index, PPP, GDP or any other economic equivalents, in GBP, USD and Euros, most tickets for the best of shows the world over sell for the equivalent of Rs 5-10 grand per ticket, so isn’t this a bit much??


Of course the rationale being proferred is that it is a charity concert brought to India by the social action platform, Global Citizen. Being dubbed the Global Citizen Festival will see the likes of Jay-Z, Aamir Khan, AR Rahman, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Arijit Singh, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Monali Thakur performing for thousands India’s live entertainment starved fans. Of course, Coldplay will headline the concert and are the biggest draw clearly.


Historically, live entertainment in India (especially with “A” class acts) has been a damp squib. A combination of terrible infrastructure, security concerns, insanely high taxes, red tape and bureaucracy and just the sheer apathy of sponsors and marketers to invest and bring the best acts on the planet to our country has been appalling and has ensured that India is most often glossed over when the biggest and best plan their tours year after year. Over the years, there have been very few acts worth calling top flight to have graced the shores of India and so I can well understand the how and why of the mayhem and madness.


However, I still can’t stop questioning the motives of the organisers and why they woud would not have found ways to make the tickets more affordable, manage the process more transparently and make this an exemplary opportunity versus a hotchpotch and unsavory experience for the umpteenth time for fans in our country. I also can’t understand why the Bollywood quotient should be allowed to ride roughshod over the control of pricing more importantly barely leave anytime for Coldplay to perform.


I for one will not be attending the show. At best, I can only offer a cold shoulder for Coldplay!


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