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Pete's Oxfam Blog - the Winter UK tour leg


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A foggy day back in the U.K.


On a train to Sheffield, England. The accents have changed. The scenery (or what I can see of it), is very different. There’s coffee fumes in the air from the buffet car. Bleary-eyed Saturday shoppers are shuffling along in the carriages, for a boost of morning brew (with chocolate sprinkles).


Autumn looks like it’s been and gone. Trees stripped bare of leaves. Frost on the wiry grass. Thick.. Thick, fog. To be honest, I can’t see a lot at all. Aside from the occasional rooftop, lonely-looking horse, or another patchwork field. It’s all quite poetic.


To think that it was the start of the summer days, when Coldplay took the stage for their live return in Brixton, London, back in June. When ‘Viva La Vida’ crashed into the charts worldwide, and the band began to take the world by storm. I remember back in April, when I got my new job. Preparing for the tour, back in Oxfam House. Designing t-shirts and collecting boxes of materials. The buzz of waiting for the tour to begin. Over 60 shows later, and I feel like a seasoned veteran. OK, so not quite like some of the guys on this tour.. But at least I’m not quite so fresh-faced as I used to be. It’s been quite an adventure that’s brought us back (almost), to where we started.. Albeit, just a few hours up the M1. Two tours of North America and one whistle-stop trip around Europe later, and we are back ‘home’. Home for the band and about half of the crew at least. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how the show goes down here. Seeing some familiar faces, working with Oxfam GB, changing my dollars into pounds, and buying some of the snacks that haven’t been discovered yet, across those ponds.


Las Vegas to Boston, Strasbourg to Antwerp, Ottawa to Salt Lake City. With Budapest, Paris, Munich, Stockholm, Barcelona, New York, Chicago, Houston, Milan.. And many more in between. It’s been a long journey so far. Lots of miles. Lots of sold out Coldplay shows. Thousands of fans joining Oxfam along the way, and nowhere near enough sleep. Here I am, on a train to Sheffield, to start the last 3 or so weeks of the ‘Viva La Vida’ / Oxfam tour, 2008.


Tonight the focus will turn back to asking people to show their support for Health and Education FOR ALL. I have spoken about it before in this blog. Just simple things. Things, even that many people take for granted. But the same things that, without which, can deepen poverty, risk lives, limit opportunities and remove freedoms. With your support, Oxfam is asking for everyone to have clean water. Bars of soap. The chance to learn to read. For life-saving immunisations. Access to a doctor, locally. If you live in Sheffield. There are hospitals. Schools with teachers and train stations with running taps. Not everyone in the world, has this chance. It doesn’t seem much to ask. I hope that a few thousand more Coldplay fans will agree with that tonight, and pledge their support, for everyone to be given the same chance. Those record breakers in Ottawa, back in October, were campaigning for exactly the same thing. Why don’t you click here now, to join the campaign?


Just went through Derby. Almost there. It’s busy. More emptying coffee cups have joined the train. I still can’t see much out of the window, but it’s good to be home.


It’s foggy, and I’m proud.





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Tonight the focus will turn back to asking people to show their support for Health and Education FOR ALL. I have spoken about it before in this blog. Just simple things. Things, even that many people take for granted. But the same things that, without which, can deepen poverty, risk lives, limit opportunities and remove freedoms. With your support, Oxfam is asking for everyone to have clean water. Bars of soap. The chance to learn to read. For life-saving immunisations. Access to a doctor, locally. If you live in Sheffield. There are hospitals. Schools with teachers and train stations with running taps. Not everyone in the world, has this chance. It doesn’t seem much to ask.


I wish the local brats who spend their day skiving off school & being a pain in the butt would realise that being able to go to school is a privilege, and that they're actually extremely lucky to have the opportunity.

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Sweeping up the butterflies


never get to see the end of the show from there. I’m usually upstairs, but just now, I watched as the band bowed, left the stage, bolted for the door, and the Oxfam sphere lit up, illuminating the clearing seats, so that the masses can find their way home, and find their way to take action with Oxfam.. It’s already emptied out in there, the contents of the arena, heading out into the misty Yorkshire night. The stage is already cleared, and being torn apart. Rick marches down the catwalk, blowing away the butterfly confetti, with a leaf-clearer fit for any enthusiastic gardener. Every trace of tonight’s show will soon be gone. Band, crew, trucks, cases, stage, amps, lights, Oxfam tables, butterflies, empty beer mugs and tomato ketchup pouches.


It was just a small team of Oxfamers tonight. 9 of them from the Leeds Outreach group. Between them, they got an awesome 623 pledges for Health and Education For All. That’s awesome stuff. Just think what we can do with the 60 volunteers in Birmingham over 3 nights of Coldplay shows..!


This is why the pledge is important.


For millions of people, classrooms with teachers, clinics with nurses, affordable medicines, running taps, and working toilets - are not something to be taken for granted, or taken at all. There is no reason why this should be the case. Vital public services - health, education, water and sanitation - can transform people’s lives. That is why, Oxfam is asking you to join the ‘6 Million More‘ pledge. We want 6 million of you to join us and demand health and eduation for all.


The world needs free public health care and education. The world needs six million more trained teachers and health workers. And to make this happen, the world needs you. Tonight we took a small step closer to the 6 Million marker, to put pressure on governments around the world. We’re not done yet though.


That’s Sheffield done. Now on to Birmingham..


p.s. The crowd was treated to a rare outing of ‘Trouble’ tonight, with Chris Martin at the piano. It’s a while since we have heard that one.



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It’s another chilly day at the Birmingham NIA


I walked across to the arena today, watching Christmas lights being strung up around trees. It’s the first day of a freezing cold December, in England. You know, when you go outside in the cold and then get back indoors, try to speak to someone, and your mouth doesn’t work properly.. like your cheeks are freezing up. When you stand talking to a friend, and your breath in the air makes you look like two boiling kettles. That’s the kind of day it is out there. Inside, everyone is wearing wolly hats, beanies and big coats. It’s a few degrees warmer than out there, but still pretty chilly.


The Birmingham NIA stands proudly overlooking the canals and down across England’s second largest city. Posters line the walls, advertising all sorts of big shows to come.. Coldplay own the stage here for the next 3 nights though, and will play in front of over 32′000 people before we even get the Thursday. I’m sure those fans will go home happy and looking forward to the huge stadium shows next year.


Oxfam is here. Every show. Every step of the way. Giving people the chance to take small actions that save lives. 20 volunteers will be spread around the arena, looking for all those people who want to join the other thousands of great Coldplay fans, who have already signed the pledge for Health and Education For All. It’s World Aids day today, there is no time more relevant, to do what you can, to reduce poverty.


Coldplay will be on their way to Birmingham, right now. Thank you, as always to them, for inviting Oxfam to be here waiting for them, just like the thousands of fans who will flood though these doors this evening.



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[Coldplay Oxfam Blog] Brummie World Beaters.


If my memory serves me correctly.. It’s been 22 shows since the last time I was able to say this. We have a new world record sign-up number for the Viva La Vida tour 2008! Oxfam has had an amazing night so far at the 1st Coldplay show, here at the Birmingham NIA.


An incredible 2050 amazing Coldplay fans, signed to pledge their support for Health and Education For All. That’s almost a fifth of the audience! Thank you to our amazing 20 volunteers, organised by Kay, our star regional coordinator.


My condolences to the Ottawa volunteers, who held the record for over 6 weeks. I am sure that you will be able to see the positive side though.. thousands more people calling on their governments to act and continue supporting education, healthcare, sanitation and water improvement programmes for the worlds poorest people.


What a great feeling. For those of you who remember Chris Akabusi on ‘Record Breakers’, “Dedication’s what you need”.


The guitars and drums just slammed into ‘Politik’. The night is almost over. Great work everyone.



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Birmingham, Birmingham, Birmingham.


Three nights in Birmingham, 4 UK Coldplay shows in 5 days. 7177 people have already joined Oxfam GB and made the Health and Education FOR ALL pledge. Thank you to all those amazing Coldplay fans for adding their small action to a global movement. Thank you to our 69 awesome Oxfam volunteers so far, who have given up their evening’s to spread the word, talk to fans, and make all those little actions, add up to an incredible 7177!


The first day in Birmingham, the sign-up record tumbled. The second day in Birmingham, that record tumbled again.. In fact. It was smashed, by over 400! A massive, and inspiring 2448 people made the pledge in just under 3 hours. That’s more than 1 in 5 Coldplay fans walking through the door! Special mention must go out to our new record holders.. the 20 Oxfam volunteers from Birmingham NIA, December 2nd, 2008.


The third night at the NIA. The record was under threat again. 2056 was the final count. The second highest number on the tour so far. What an amazing 3 nights for Oxfam. That sort of number really can help to increase the pressure on governments to act. To keep their promises. To provide accessible, and affordable access to good quality healthcare and education, for ALL people, around the world. Birmingham now takes the record overall sign-up number. Every person counts. One person really can make a big difference. In the freezing cold of a British winter, Coldplay have hit the road to play some shows, and their fans are helping to change the world as they go.


Thrown into those 3 days in Birmingham, was another round of the Band v Crew football. This time, the venue was Birmingham City F.C’s training ground. The teams entered the venue, under the curious, watchful eye of a few faithful supporters waiting at the gates, and a handful of Birmingham’s best youth, who hope one day to break into this team, on the brink of the Premier league.


I felt far from a pro, walking in my grubby trainers, a crew rain jacket and my running shorts. It all felt a bit strange. A group of tired and not-quite-match-fit roadies entered the indoor training pitch, followed by the whispers of “and it was all Yellow” sung quite beautifully by one of those youth team boys. The band followed, full kit ready and with revenge in their eyes, following their first defeat in California. Warm-ups began under the watchful eye of Kevin Phillips, star striker for Birmingham’s first team. I felt a bit nervous.


I warmed up in crew shirt. Listened to the team talk and tactics, in crew shirt.. then.. was switched to the band team. They were a man short. Oxfam. There every step of the way.


It was a frenzy of action in the first half. Both teams, holding their own, but the Band team went into half-time with a slender 1-0 lead. The second half started with a goal from Will Champion and a strengthening grip on the game, for the band. By now, the youth team observers had lost interest. 20 minutes later though, their was a new fan on the sidelines. Alex McLeish, Birmingham’s manager and former Scotland international, had arrived. He agreed to join the action in the number 9 shirt for the band. I switched to the crew team. Oxfam. Always helping out in a crisis. The clock ran down with the score remaining 2-0. I was quietly pleased to have been on the winning side for most of the game, until being subbed to the opposition, but then holding out in defence against a number 9 who has 77 caps for Scotland and played in 3 World Cups!


A day to remember. That was even before the Oxfam crew arrived to collect another 2056 pledges for Health and Education For All. I’m back in Oxford now. Handing over the petition sheets to the Campaigns team at Oxfam HQ. The tour bus leaves for Glasgow in 5 hours. Oxfam will be on it, and if you have a ticket for the Coldplay show, we hope to see you there..



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.....I warmed up in crew shirt. Listened to the team talk and tactics, in crew shirt.. then.. was switched to the band team. They were a man short. Oxfam. There every step of the way......

.....He agreed to join the action in the number 9 shirt for the band. I switched to the crew team. Oxfam. Always helping out in a crisis......



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After an overnight drive up to Glasgow, we are here at the SECC. There’s frost on the trees and that kind of cold clear blue in the air. The Oxfam case is out in the ‘cold-zone’ as Fin described it earlier. That is right behind the stage. It’ll be good when that crowd show up later on and warm the place up a bit! Just a little short blog.. to say.. “brrr”.



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Stomping their feet on the wooden boards.


Actually. I’m not sure they were wooden. That’s probably classed as a fire hazard. There was plenty of stomping on metal bars though. Fantastic atmosphere tonight. The Scots came out to party in Glasgow’s SECC. Coldplay were the life and soul. Soon enough the whole room was all, sort of.. yellow.


Tonight’s surprise was a bunch of yellow balloons, which the band kicked out onto the crowd at the beginning of that song. It was a great sight. I’m always facinated to watch people’s reaction when something like this happens. Some people completely stop watching the show, and concentrate every part of their body, on trying to touch one of those balloons. Then there are others, who don’t seem too fussed, and keep getting hit on the head by them, as they drift down. I saw one boy leaving the venue proudly clinging to his balloon. I guess it will proudly sit in his room, as a reminder, until it wrinkles and shrinks to little more than a yellow shower cap.


It went off in there tonight. The chanting and singing started with the first verse of ‘Violet Hill’, and went on well after the band had left the stage. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about returning to the same venue next Tuesday.. but i’m actually quite looking forward to it now. It was like the crowd had carried on singing after the Saturday football had finished earlier. I was happy to join them, because my team even won today!


Our brilliant 12 Oxfam volunteers set a new record again tonight. The Scottish record! It may be the first show in Scotland, but it still counts.. 805 more people have made the Health and Education For All pledge. Great stuff. Well done to all of them. Thank you for giving Oxfam your time, and for coming along to join in with the stomping too. The volume really went up, when the band started clapping at the beginning of ‘Strawberry Swing’. Imagine if every one of the people at the show, put on an Oxjam gig to raise money for Oxfam, by making some noise. It could be something pretty noisy.. erm.. I mean.. special.


We’re off to Liverpool tonight. Seems like a while since we have played two cities back to back. Through the window of this little office behind the stage, I can see the Stage Trucks reversing in, to be loaded full of cases. I’d better go and check that the Oxfam case makes it’s way on there. Pete



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[Coldplay Oxfam Blog] Warm up room.


I’m sitting on a road case, which says C O L D P L A Y, in spray paint across the top. On my right, is a label which says ‘Coldplay. Viva. Viva La Vida 2008/2009. Location: Warm-up room. Truck: Backline. Contents: Piano.’ It’s the ‘Dressy Piano’ case, ready for the band to warm-up for another show on their world tour tonight. Today, we have made it to Liverpool’s Echo Arena. It sits proudly overlooking the Docks, and this famous city of music. It’s also European Capital of Culture this year. A week today, the hosts of the venue will be Sue Barker and Gary Lineker for the annual BBC Sports Personality awards ceremony. Tonight, the hosts will be Will, Jonny, Chris and Guy. Greeting people as they enter the venue, will be another 20 amazing Oxfam volunteers, full of energy and ideas for people, to get involved with Oxfam’s work around the world.


Reflecting on last night. It was a great 2008 debut in Scotland for the band. The long wait for those fans seemed to have paid off. It was a cracking atmosphere. I’m hoping for more of the same tonight. There is always the chance of another group of record breakers..



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1 in 4 at the Echo.


The capacity of the Liverpool Echo Arena is 8000 tonight. 2044 of them made the Health and Education For All pledge, in just under 3 hours, thanks to our incredible Oxfam campaigners. For many of them, it was their first time volunteering with Oxfam. That’s a pretty good first time campaigning, by any account.. 1 in 4 signed up. Wow.


Chris Martin is currently singing ‘The Hardest Part’. The volunteers effort tonight has certainly ensured that Liverpool is not the hardest part of this tour for me. I think it’s great when so many people join in. That’s like the whole floor area of the arena standing up at once, in unison, against poverty. All those people believing that governments should do more to provide people with their basic rights to good quality healthcare and education. Imagine if you just took away all the running taps, plasters, first aid workers, and hygienic cooking areas in this venue. The show probably wouldn’t happen. If nobody had access to an education, there might not even be anyone working here. But they are. Why couldn’t the same thing happen anywhere? Good quality and affordable healthcare and education are some of the things many countries’ prosperity is built on. It’s not a new idea. Oxfam believes it’s about time everyone had the same chance.


2044 people can make a lot of noise if they want to. When joined by all the tens of thousands of others, who have signed up with Oxfam on this ‘Viva’ Coldplay tour, in 2008, the noise is loud and clear. Change is possible. One person can make a big difference.


Just look at those 4 people on stage singing the last chorus of ‘Viva La Vida’. They wrote a song. Now people are singing it even when they have stopped. That’s quite a powerful thing. When people join together on a cause they can be even more powerful. That’s what governments need. They need to know that people care and want to help change the world.


Who knows.. All those people screaming for an encore in there could be the tipping point.


I can hear the volume has dipped inside. ‘Green Eyes’ is now being sung out in the arena. I still can’t quite get over 1 in 4. Incredible stuff. We only had 20 volunteers.. Imagine if we’d had 80!



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Glasgow SECC - Take Two.


I’m sitting in the same little room as I was a few days ago, writing another blog, about another Coldplay show. We have had some adventures on this tour, playing 3 different countries in 3 days.. it’s not quite the same adventure when you return to the same city, but it was another great show in Glasgow. Oxfam’s brilliant bunch of volunteers, between them, got 1526 Health and Education For All pledges, to add to the thousands of others on the Coldplay tour.


Another noisy crowd greeted the band tonight. Needing little encouragement to sing every word and clap to the beats (even if they weren’t always in time with the band). Chris Martin had to tell everyone to stop clapping at the start of ‘The Hardest Part’ (which he dedicated to his haircut), as he couldn’t figure out the timing. He got it in the end, and the clapping continued anyway.


1 in 5 people at the show tonight, made the pledge. They took a few moments to chat to one of our campaigners and put their name down. To support more children having the chance to go to school. To take action to put pressure on governments to provide affordable healthcare for all.


After they were finished doing that, they went to watch the Coldplay show. Stamped their feet, clapped their hands, chanted chords and sung words. It’s a great crowd here, and I won’t forget it in a hurry. I’m sure the band won’t either. We head South tonight. Back to England. Next stop Manchester. Two nights. Two shows. 40 Oxfam volunteers ready and waiting. Plus, another 28′000 or so Coldplay fans..



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And all the security guards in the MEN Arena were a bit Yellow.


Half of them was anyway. The security here really stand out, in their bright yellow blazers. It was an odd sight when they all took their positions just before the doors. All these organised yellow dots, covering the arena entrances. The biggest line of yellow, being by the stage barriers. The dots of yellow were far less organised a few hours later. As balloons were thrown in to the crowd by the roadies at the mix desk, by the stage and up in the rafters. Yellow bopped and popped all around the place. Most of them, seemed to gravitate towards the stage. By the end of the song, Chris Martin was beating them away with his guitar, surrounded by inflatables.


It all looks like chaos when that happens. But it’s very well organised really. The balloon-inflating session has become a regular fixture of the schedule for a few of the roadies in the afternoon. I came down to get some t-shirts from the Oxfam case earlier, only to find it covered in yellow balloons!


Not discouraged though, I battled through the balloons, got my volunteers t-shirts, dished them out, and they went out there talking to the fans. Another incredible night for Oxfam and the petition here. 1970 more people made the pledge for Health and Education For All. Those governments will have to take note of the number of people signing up just on this tour, let alone, around the world.


The band are in full flow at the moment. ‘Lost!’ is beating through the Manchester Evening News arena. It’s a massive place. 14′000 people here tonight. That means 1 in 7 of that huge number, signed Oxfam’s petition. That’s awesome. The last time I was here, I came to see the Foo Fighters on my 18th birthday. That was a brilliant day. Today has been too. I like this place.


I wonder if Peter Kay will be at one of the shows. He used to work in one of those yellow blazers and returned for his own stand-up show here. I talked to one of the blazer people here earlier, who said she was here when he started. He’s a very funny man.


The band just finished ‘Green Eyes’ up amongst the crowd, so I should get on with it and get back upstairs. I just want to add one more thing. I hear that Manchester is the home of Coldplaying.com. I also saw the names of Ian and Jenny Betley on our petition earlier. Thank you Coldplaying people! :dance:



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