Coldplay or Not to Play?

To celebrate the release of their much anticipated new album Everyday Life, Coldplay, one of the world’s biggest bands, has decided to travel back in time to the days when sell-out world tours were a thing of the far and distant future. 

The band will instead be taking the time they would have spent entertaining their record-breaking fan base in favour of finding ways to make their gigs less detrimental to the environment.

The move follows The 1975’s bold collaboration with Greta Thunberg to raise awareness on global environmental issues pressuring the modern age, with the band also offering to print their new tour logo on old gig t-shirts rather than churning out a whole batch of new merchandise. 

Whether or not this was inspiration for Coldplay’s radical move, the band has gained media attention by announcing just two gigs in Jordan on album-release day, which were broadcast for free on YouTube, rather than taking their new music on tour.

Coldplay’s previous tour, A Head Full of Dreams, stacked up a whopping 122 shows across five continents in 2016 and 17, employed 109 crew members and had a convoy consisting of 32 trucks. The substantial tour was the fourth highest grossing tour of all time; scraping in over £400 million. 

However this year, Coldplay have decided to forgo the hefty pay check in favour of the environment: a move which has been highly praised by the WWF.

According to frontman Chris Martin, the main environmental issue concerning the band is the impact of their flights, followed by single use plastics and electricity usage at the venues. 

However, figures from the Green Touring Network suggest the band should be focusing on audience travel which accounts for 33% of the carbon footprint of the average tour, rather than their own which only makes up 9%. 

From the data, the main culprit of carbon emissions from a tour is venues, which is only slightly higher than audience travel at 34%. Measures that might help to reduce the environmental impact from venues could include playing in venues that are sustainably powered, for example those with solar panels, or using LED lights; strategies utilised by  Radiohead in their 2007 tour. If the band want to completely neutralise their carbon footprint, however, they are going to have to dig deep to find more novel methods to keep emissions down in multiple aspects of their tour.

In an interview with the BBC, Martin claimed “we would be disappointed if [the tour] is not carbon neutral” and while this may be a seemingly radical optimistic requirement, it is dramatic moves such as this which may be essential for the world to move forward in the current environmental crisis.”

image source: Getty Images