They’re a funny thing, awards shows.
I guess then, that if Glastonbury is the "Beatles of festivals" as CM once quipped, then the Grammys is pretty much the toppermost of the poppermost when it comes to awards shows - and hence the funniest of funny things.
In my more sour roadie moments, I’ve likened working at awards shows to going to a slightly stiff family wedding - you know that you have to go, but you’re pretty sure you're not exactly going to *enjoy* it - and you’re damn sure that you’ll be glad when it’s over.
I guess the oddest thing for me, is that they carry all of the weight and importance of a large show (a Glastonbury, say), but offer none of the joyous release when the audience connects, or when the band leave the stage and all that preparation and worry have paid off.
It’s partly, of course, down to our involvement amounting to a mere few minutes. In a regular show, that’d be enough time for the intro tape to roll and the band to get through the instrumental MX intro. It’s also partly due to a sense of perhaps not really belonging. We’re kind of distantly related to the people here, but we don’t really know if we’re *part* of it.
A funny thing happens as the rehearsal and show days move past, though. Wandering around the backstage corridor which rings the entire arena, there are a lot of familiar faces. Folks who’ve helped us out in the past - crew who’ve treated us well here before and make time for a smile and nod or perhaps a warm handshake as the show bustles on.
Further down the corridor, you can’t help but read the dressing room signs as you pass. Paul McCartney on the left, Bruce Springsteen to the right. I guess if you’re going to be part of a family, this isn’t exactly a bad bunch to find yourself among. The band have most definitely always had their sights aimed high in terms of becoming writers of classic and enduring songs - like those of the most distinguished folks here.
I wander up to check on my gear and then sneak down the seating to watch the show from the boom camera platform. Bruno Mars attempts to gee up the attendant industry crowd with a “rattle your jewellery”-style shout. The arena is full of folks from all corners of the music business.
Quite surprisingly, they all rise to their feet and show some love. (It’s an entire arena full of the music business and folks 'in the biz', after all, are notoriously 'too cool for school'.) It suddenly occurs to me that all of these people have had their lives and careers driven by a desire to be closer to music - the same reason I’m here.
It’s a celebration of achievement, I guess. The artists, the folks who help them along the way. As with anything as personal as music though, trying to pick a “winner” is a strange concept at best. You can pretty much guarantee that every individual in the place would pick a vastly differing crop of favourites, but the point is that music itself is worth celebrating.
It’s a tough time to be in any way involved in music. You read worrying articles everywhere claiming doom and gloom all around in the industry. But there are plenty of people here that think music is important and that it’ll survive - and most of all, that getting together and making a fuss about it is a good idea.
Every time I visit the Grammys, I’m a little less cynical. With any luck, Coldplay will have a long and successful career that brings them back here time and time again. Who knows, if that happens, then by the time that they’re stately elders, I might even end up looking forward to it?