Coldplay's £1 million to rock the casbah

Coldplay were keeping it real over New Year, playing a low-key benefit gig. Oh, wait... no they weren't. Instead they played a show in Abu Dhabi at the personal invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. There’s a chance he might be an old mate of the band, but we suspect that the £1 million fee might have had something to do with them agreeing to perform.

It seems the sheikhs are not immune to the occasional lachrymose power ballad, or maybe they were just hoping that Chris Martin would bring the missus, Gwyneth Paltrow, along.

It's a far cry from the grubby indie circuit where Coldplay started out. Indeed guitarist Jonny Buckland seemed more impressed with the accommodation than the fee. "I've never stayed anywhere like the hotel they put me in last time and probably never will again," he said. "It made Buckingham Palace look like a two-bed semi."

Still, at least the lowly-paid migrant workers who maintain the infrastructure of Abu Dhabi got to see the show. Oh, wait... no they didn't. Tickets for the show at the Volvo Ocean Race venue started at £4,300.

Coldplay's album Mylo Xyloto is selling by the bucketloads, and the band are hardly short of a bob or two. Their income though is obviously not enough to allow them to demur with dignity when a Gulf potentate gets out the cheque-book.

December 31 2011: the day that rock music finally sold out the last vestiges of its counter-culture identity. Joe Strummer, the man who invited us to Rock the Casbah, is turning in his grave.

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