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What is the secret to playing a great stadium gig?


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Act like you belong there, for a start. If you mumble between songs like you're embarrassed to be on stage, I will throw my £6 burger at you.


A couple of years ago, Chris Martin said something that actually made sense. Coldplay had just finished a series of British stadium shows and Martin admitted he didn't believe his group performed well in such settings, vowing to never to play them again. From that point on, the roof of an indoor arena would be Coldplay's limit.


It might be the fact that I'm getting older, but I've reached the stage where I don't automatically despise bands popular enough to ply their trade in a football ground. But what I do expect from a gig at Wembley, or from the headliners at the Leeds or Reading festivals, is that they're able to cope with the surroundings. A lot of bands just don't have a clue, which is no doubt why many are predicting the death of arena rock. Some acts, however, are masters at making the enormous seem intimate.


It's not enough to play these places simply because lots of people will come and watch you have a go. This weekend, I saw Metallica perform in front of 42,000 people at Istanbul's Ali Sami Yen Stadium. I watched from the photo pit while behind me a significant proportion of the city's youth went completely insane. The distance between band and audience was vast, its space taken up with a cyclone of photographers, security men, first aid crews and injured fans. The band, though, never once looked to the war zone at their feet. Instead, their attentions were focused on making thousands of faces in the distance feel part of the show.


From such close proximity the showmanship looked a bit excessive, but then again I wasn't where the audience was. Only 150 metres back their fans were going mad over a band who were busy making themselves even bigger than the music they play. Be bold, that seems to be the key. There's no use being shy about this; after all, asking people to come to these places to watch you play is a big ask in itself.


There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Two weeks ago I saw Leonard Cohen charm 17,000 people at London's 02 Arena using only a smile and a voice that sounded like God swearing an oath. This, though, won't wash with the Pigeon Detectives, or any other group who seem lost both on the big stage and on anyone standing more than a few feet from it.


Anyone attending an outdoor show knows that they are cattle with a pound sign branded on them. This is tolerable if those on the big screens make it worth our while. Here we are now, entertain us. If you mumble between songs like you're embarrassed to be there I will throw my £6 burger at you.


The bands that triumph on the biggest stages are those who believe they belong there. If you have any doubts then please don't waste my time.


Ian Winwood



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Yet another article that kicks off with a snide comment about Coldplay...not about their music, of course, but about one of the bandmembers.


"The bands that triumph on the biggest stages are those who believe they belong there."


I guess he means the arrogant ones? :dozey:

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