Imagine a sea of people at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, an empty seat or patch of grass cannot be found. Coldplay is up on stage, house lights are brought up just a bit so Chris Martin can see the audience. He’s turns toward section 103 (where I am) and does a little wave with the hand that’s holding the microphone. It looks like he’s looking at me and waving at me. But I’m delusional right? So I cock my head to the side, so does he, and he keeps waving. So I do a little wave back. Then he sings a bit more, turns and goes to the other side of the stage. That’s my mickey moment.
What do I mean by a mickey moment? Well, Disney has a saying that every visitor as a moment with Mickey. They have the fleeting moment where they get to be the center of Mickey’s attention, get a photo taken and get to feel the giddiness of being in the presence of an icon. The fan makes a connection with the star.
It’s hard to make a connection in large arena, but Chris Martin tears down that third wall so many performers cannot get through. He was probably just waving randomly to see who would wave back and maybe he didn’t see me. But I think he did. Later in the concert he went up the side of the walkway, was waving and giving the thumbs up at this guy, and wouldn’t stop until the guy acknowledged that “yes I see you waving to me and we are interacting.” And at the very end Chris potentially took his life into his hands and went into the middle of the crowd to get closer to the people in the back. And throughout it all he worked to get the audience to interact with the band.
There are only two other concerts that I could say I’ve had a mickey moment: in 1997 with Bono, and in 2003 with Michael Stipe. With Bono, I was very close to the catwalk, we held eye contact and he sang to me. At the REM concert in Vancouver, Michael Stipe talked with the audience, took requests, dedicated songs to people in the city and to a couple who told him they were celebrating their anniversary, told anecdotes, and made me feel like an insider even though I was all the way at the back of the field.
Those mickey moments, along with good talent, are what makes a performance memorable and worth the price of the ticket. It also helps convert borderline fans and create more loyal fans, which probably will lead to more record sales down the road. At the REM concert, which was a joint one with Radiohead, my friend was pleasantly surprised that he enjoyed REM’s performance. The music industry should be looking for more people like this, or getting people like Chris to give pointers on how to do it.
As for the concert in general, it’s was awesome. You could tell that the guys love performing together and what they’re doing. Of course, if someone is having fun themselves it’s rather catching. And it seemed to have infected the 22,000 people there.