London at the O2 Arena – GROWing back to my roots
I loved Glasgow. I adored Manchester. But there was something extra special about waking up outside the O2 in Greenwich this week.
I grew up in Deptford so bringing GROW to my hood with Coldplay gave me an extra tingle of excitement. And apprehension too – Londoners can be a tough crowd so I wasn’t sure whether they’d greet Mrs Corn and Mr Hot Dog with the same smiles as the Scots or Mancunians…
But on the day it was smiles all round. Smiles from fans from all over the world who were already queuing up at 8am, smiles from the American members of the tour crew on my early morning bus journey, and from our London volunteers who had given up their Friday night to chat to Coldplay fans about how we can make growing, distributing and consuming food fairer for everyone.
We met some fab people on the night, including a guy who had been donating to Oxfam for 20 years and Avram Grant, the ex-Chelsea and West Ham manager! We got some great pics of all our new campaign supporters, so if you met us on the night, check out our Facebook gallery and find yourself in all your gig night glory.
It was a bit of manic night – wifi reception was patchy front of house, so I kept having to skip downstairs and backstage to tweet to you all. Technology is a marvellous tool for us campaigners on the move, except when your wifi all goes squiffy… We also added some very last minute props to the GROW tour kit – big spoons and forks so people having their photo taken can show us exactly how hungry for change they really are.
I contracted acute performance anxiety when faced with the prospect of making my debut as a confetti canon operator. Production had got in four extra canons for the O2, so it was all hands on deck to man the new acquisitions – and this time those hands included my ET-like fingers. Of course, my intense face of concentration when being inducted into canon management prompted much hilarity amongst the crew.
Anyway, Oxfam hasn’t been kicked off the tour yet so hopefully O2 was suitably impressed by my confetti canon skills. My aim and fire patch was right by several precious friends and family members of the band and crew, and they didn’t laugh and point at me, so there’s a relief.
This was the first gig I managed to watch properly (usually I’m packing up Oxfam stuff, tweeting, emailing and ensuring all our lovely new supporters get their pictures sent to them) and I was totally spellbound watching the crew do their thing – video capture, lighting cues – and create this awe-inspiring show… Obviously the band are the big stars of the night to the fans, but watching all the crew work from 6am until 3am and pull off show after show, it’s clear that they’re definitely the unsung heroes of any major tour. Amazing men and women, truly.
Similarly, the power of the audience singing along to every tune was incredible – thousands and thousands of people amplifying one message. This is truly a global movement, this Coldplayness, and I couldn’t stop thinking, “How can we let everyone in this arena know about GROW and inspire them to support our movement for change too? How many people here would use their voice to stand up for injustice around the world? Would a confetti canon help?”
It was a long day but at least I have my own Deptford bed tonight, and unlike the rest of the crew who had a charity benefit night for Kids Company and X-Factor ahead of them, I had the weekend off to rest my campaigner feet.
It’s been a blast. Thanks to everyone i’ve met along the way, from crew to volunteer. You’ve been amazing! Laters from Esme, bonjour to Pete!
See photos from the O2 and more on Twitpic.
This is Esme’s last post. Next up, Pete in Paris!