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Kidnapped by Coldplay


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In my place ... Sun's Gordon with Coldplay's Guy Berryman, Chris Martin, Will Champion and Jonny Buckland


ONE thing I never thought I would say in my career is that I have been kidnapped by Coldplay.


But a routine interview in a drab American city with Britain’s biggest band turned into one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.


Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Will Champion and Jonny Buckland didn’t just grant me a chat about their new EP and the announcement of massive outdoor gigs next year.


They gave me a seat on their private jet, a fancy hotel room, my own space in their dressing room, a key role in their football team and, most important, a chance to wear one of their Viva La Vida uniforms (which I once suggested were smelly — they are not).


The lads have been on a mammoth run of 70 gigs in America.


I flew out to join them in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday, with a week left across the Pond before they hit Sheffield for the first date on their sell-out UK tour.


I was warned that the band, particularly frontman Chris, could be a bit prickly during interviews. Salt Lake sounded equally hard work — a deeply religious Mormon city where I’d struggle to get a pint.


I won’t be rushing to book a holiday in Utah again but any trepidation I had about the band was completely wide of the mark.


I had bumped into them over the years without having the chance to spend any time in their company.


But from the moment I arrived and had a VIP pass slung round my neck and was invited into the inner sanctum of an 87-strong touring team, I was made to feel like I was part of the band.


They are friendly, great company, entertaining and incredibly hospitable. There is nothing “showbiz” about them.


I showed up at the EnergySolutions Arena in the afternoon to see the soundcheck and do the interview.


Chris was giving an eight-year-old girl a piano lesson on stage and some expert tutoring on how to play their hit Clocks.


As he bounded off stage to meet a pack of competition winners he shook my hand and said: “£25 an hour. It gives me a bit of extra spending money on tour. I think I am pretty competitively priced.”



Living the dream ... Gordon's rock star pose


Shortly afterwards I was ushered through a sea of friendly faces to sit down with Chris and guitarist Jonny for the first half of the interview.


Chris grabbed a pile of food for us to share, which was NOT macrobiotic, and immediately struck me as an incredibly entertaining character.


Both blokes were a great laugh, joking through the interview. Bassist Guy was woken up from a deep sleep for his interview and didn’t complain once.


It was at the end of our chat when things turned surreal.


The band tried to do a picture with me immediately before they went on stage and Chris turned and asked me what my plans were.


I told him I was getting a flight in the morning and he said: “Never mind that. Why don’t you come out with us to LA?”


I’ve had worse invitations than being kidnapped by the world’s biggest band.


The band have been in the charts for nearly ten years. They are incredibly confident in everything they do. They were completely calm, despite 15,000 fans queuing outside to see them.


The gig seemed to flash past and was the best I have seen them perform. I have been in the crowd at more than 20 of their shows — Glastonbury, T In The Park and Live 8 included.


The new album, added to their famous back catalogue, is seriously impressive live. The stage show that comes with it now rivals U2 and the Rolling Stones in their pomp.


A section of the show when they emerge in the middle of the audience to play a couple of songs goes down a storm. And they have pioneered a new craze at gigs.


As they make their way back to the stage behind the scenes, a dance version of their hit single Viva La Vida is pumped out with footage on giant screens being played from their recent gig in Paris.


Fans spontaneously started waving their mobile phones in the air, creating a stunning sea of lights. It used to be lighters at gigs — but this looks even more impressive.



The way in ... Gordon's backstage pass


Chris gave a shout out on stage for Ricky Hatton, who was fighting as the band were on stage, as the gig came to a raucous finale with a roof-raising encore.


I watched from the sound desk with the group’s tour manager, Franksy, PA Vicki and Arlene, who works for the management.


As the gig finished I was suddenly a captive of the Coldplay crew. Franksy made sure I was rushed out into a waiting blacked-out people carrier to get us off to the airport straight after the gig with the band.


A police escort guided our convoy past road-blocked streets as Coldplay left Salt Lake City standing.


We were ushered straight on to the Tarmac at the airport and on to the band’s jet.


Inside they cracked open some beers and a bottle of red wine for the short hop to LA. The pilot made an announcement welcoming me to the Coldplay party. Drummer Will and Jonny sat glued to their laptops watching episodes of The Wire. Guy sat calmly sipping his lager and Chris bounced around the jet with a huge smile, joking with the crew.


Half-way through the flight Chris came over to me with a piece of paper with notes scribbled on it.


He asked me if I thought they should be playing big outdoor gigs next year when people are feeling the pinch.


He often gets a rough time for being a bit of a geek. But my experience with him was the opposite. He was thoughtful, funny and impressively warm to people. Once we reached LA a convoy of cars was waiting to take us from the runway straight to the hotel, where a great room was sorted for me for two nights at the Casa Del Mar, a smart Santa Monica hotel — care of Coldplay.


The next morning we were ushered into blacked-out cars again and I was staggered to discover I was on my way to the American Music Awards as a guest.


I was handed an access-all-areas pass and headed straight to the band’s dressing room.


I was chuffed when a famous actress approached me to say I was brilliant in the band.


Chris even bet me £200 I couldn’t drink a half-pint of whisky — which I felt was the least I could do after they had looked after me so well. But for the first and only time I was disappointed on the tour, when they didn’t cough up the money.


I was in the middle of the dressing room before they went on stage, still supping, when Justin Timberlake popped in to say hello.


He shook hands with everyone as Chris introduced us. It was surreal moments later to see him on stage in front of millions presenting Annie Lennox with an award.


Pink, Leona Lewis, Beyonce, the Jonas Brothers and Mariah Carey all stopped to shake hands and say hello to the band.


After a six-hour wait, they got on stage and played Lovers In Japan like consummate professionals.


The sound wasn’t quite up to scratch but the band didn’t let their disappointment ruin the mood.


We were all back at the hotel soon after for another drink. A wild night followed with bass player Guy at the Chateau Marmont. Russell Brand bowled over to say hello and Pink gave us a wave.


The next morning, with a sore head, I showed up for football. Jonny and Will were keen to keep the band’s unbeaten record against the crew. I was drafted in to help — and the record is still in place.


Drinking, hanging around and being part of the Coldplay experience was a real honour. The new EP, Prospekt’s March, is out this week and will be a roaring success.


Tickets go on sale for the massive outdoor gigs on Friday and will sell out in minutes — despite Chris’s fears about the credit crunch.


They are sometimes tagged as being uncool — but in my eyes there is no shame in being a Coldplay fan.



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Who gives a fuck about the AMAs, everyone knows your entire country doesn't understand music anyway :P


Haha, I jest.


Seriously though, from what you read of him and see of him in interviews, Chris Martin is on my list of people to have dinner with before I die, and not even because of his music.

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