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Coldplay will not tour until they can make it environmentally “beneficial”

By | Published on Thursday 21 November 2019


Coldplay have said that they won’t tour again until they can work out how to travel the world and perform live without harming the environment.

Speaking to the BBC, frontman Chris Martin said: “All of us, in every industry, have to work out what the best way of doing our job is. The hardest thing is the flying side of things. We’re taking time to work out, how can not only our tour be sustainable, but how can it be actively beneficial. How can we harness the resources that our tour creates and make it have a positive impact?”

“Our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it largely solar powered”, he continued. “So I think it’s a question of just accepting that you have to do your best, not to be too overzealous in criticising others, because everyone will catch up, I think, if you prove that it’s easy to do it the right way”.

Speaking of criticising people, some might note that Martin gave his interview during a fairly unnecessary trip to Jordan to play a couple of album launch shows (before jetting back to London to play a third next week).

Whatever though, once that unnecessary junket is out of the way, it’s pretty admirable for a major band who don’t need to tour to stay in business to refuse to do so until they can work out how to travel the world singing their songs in a way that it less damaging to the environment. And if they can figure that out, they can share their learnings.

Not that giving up touring should be a prerequisite for speaking out on environmental issues, whatever Welsh MP and climate change denier David Davies says. He recently panned The 1975 for, you know, caring about stuff.

In a letter to the band, which he gleefully uploaded to Twitter, he suggested that they shouldn’t support climate change activism because they were going to tour the world to promote their upcoming new album – which features a speech by Greta Thunberg.

He also implied that the Extinction Rebellion’s key aim was to stop people getting to work. What a guy.

Of course, while bands should try to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of their tours – and the need to fly around the world is the biggest challenge to tackle – when critics of climate change campaigning music stars make this their main focus, you know they are using distraction tactics in the absence of scientifically sound arguments.

Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead – who, like The 1975, have donated money to Extinction Rebellion – recently pointed out just that in an interview with The Guardian.

“Yes, this person is a hypocrite because they flew”, he said. “But if picking holes in someone’s green credentials is all you need to convince yourself there’s no climate change problem then you’re kind of an idiot”.

The solution to the environmental-impact-of-touring problem may be closer than we think though. In a new interview with the Mindscape podcast, Grimes says that she reckons that we’ll all stop going out to see live music performed sometime soon anyway.

“I think live music is going to be obsolete soon”, she said. “It’s kinda like Instagram or whatever. People are actually just gravitating towards the clean, finished, fake world. Everyone wants to be in a simulation. They don’t actually want the real world. Even if they think they do and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, cool, live music!’, if you actually look at actual numbers of things, everyone’s gravitating towards the shimmery perfected Photoshop world”.

I don’t think an end to all live music is quite the answer Coldplay are looking for. But if they’re already fine with not touring to promote an album – it wouldn’t be the first time; the band did not go out of a full-scale tour for their ‘Ghost Stories’ album – then maybe just ending live shows is a possible solution. It seems unlikely that’s going to happen though. Nor does it seem like a solution others would follow in a hurry.

So, fingers crossed, Coldplay can find some other options in order to meet this challenge, using their money and influence to test out new technology and approaches. And then the wider music community can learn and adapt.

This week booking agent Emma Banks – who works with artists such as Katy Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse – told the BBC’s ‘Does My Music Suck?’ podcast that musicians “have to be proactive” in this area. “We need to think more about how we can actually not create the problem in the first place”, she said.

But on the off chance that no such solutions are forthcoming other than the employment of the Grimes prediction, possibly your last chance to see Coldplay perform live ever will be at the Natural History Museum in London on Monday.

If you want the chance of getting in, you’ll need to pre-order their new album, ‘Everyday Life’, from their website at some point today. The album is out tomorrow, by which time it’ll all be too late. To get tickets, I mean. Not for the planet. Hopefully.

They’ve also released two new songs, ‘Daddy’ and ‘Champion Of The World’, for those of you too impatient to wait until tomorrow to hear them.