I will be the first to admit that the Coldplay concert on July 11 was epic. It was intense, beautiful and incredibly well done. Best of all, it was the only concert I have ever experienced that filled me with an indescribable joy from start to finish. The music was euphoric; even their more somber songs were played with an air of triumph. I have never seen anything like it.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I was ecstatic the entire set – literally jumping up and down for hours. From the moment they entered the stage, I started screaming and bouncing at the sight of my favorite band. Seeing them at The Gorge was ideal – it’s been named the best outdoor concert venue in the US, and that’s no exaggeration. It’s stunningly gorgeous (no pun intended).
What happened next gave me pause: during the first and second songs, I had tears in my eyes. Two times, without warning, I felt like I was about to cry. This had never happened before and I stopped jumping around for a moment to take stock.
Why would this make me emotional? Why on earth was I acting like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert in 1965? Chris Martin is NOT that good-looking.
Suddenly it occurred to me that it wasn’t the band that was sending me over the top, it was the collective experience. Here I was among 30,000 people all singing the same lyrics, all fans of the same music, all happy together for three hours. Where else can this be found?
Certainly not in Seattle.
Statistically, Seattle is the least-churched city in the US. Given that absence, it’s no wonder that people are drawn to gathering by the thousands for a common interest such as a concert. Where else in Seattle can one experience the community and fellowship of coming together to adore a single entity? Where else can one stand among strangers and feel like you all have something in common? Even sporting events can’t compare – they always involve competition. The person sitting next to you could HATE the team you are rooting for. At a concert, you are all there because you love the same performer.
As I was thinking about this, I had a flashback. Two years ago, my father-in-law attended a Dave Matthews Band concert at The Gorge with me, Mike and all of our siblings. Afterward, we eagerly asked him what he thought of it. He paused, and then said, “It was a worship service. Idolatry, really.”
Not critical, not positive or negative, just fact.
At first I thought, you can’t be serious. What, we’re bowing down to gods made of stone? But he explained that today’s idols are really anything you put before God. That could be musicians, actors, comic books, even your own beauty.
Then it was obvious; what I was experiencing was akin to going to a massive worship service — of Coldplay.
For me, it’s not too much of a stretch to fall into idol worship…but that’s less because of the music than because of their celebrity. When they entered a smaller stage inside the crowd, just thirty feet from us, what did I do? I bolted straight for them to get as close as the burly security guard would let me. Why? Because I idolize their talent and success. And because, hello, the lead singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow. Need I write more?
It is fantastic to recognize that the music Coldplay creates is brilliant, but I have to remember the ability to create that music is God-given. To recognize it as anything less is idol worship. So while I’m amazed by what I’m hearing, I’m also thinking how incredible it is that we are created to create. And that was the difference, I believe: I was in awe of the talent the Lord gives people, rather than being emotionally in awe of Chris, Will, Guy and Jonny. And who wouldn’t be, with lyrics like this that make you feel invincible?
“Oh love, don’t let me go/Won’t you take me where the street lights glow?/I can hear rain coming like a serenade of sound/Now my feet won’t touch the ground.” (Life in Technicolor II)
After considering these thoughts as the band played on, I had one of those ridiculous Christian-panic moments where I was thinking, “Now am I supposed to interpret all the lyrics through this lens? Do I have to analyze everything to see how God is involved?” No, I don’t. In fact, when I have those thoughts, God is probably looking at me thinking, LIGHTEN UP.
So I am free to enjoy the music.
“I can hear rain coming like a serenade of sound…now my feet won’t touch the ground.”