Ballad Lighter 2.0

Observered while watching a televised Duran Duran concert on high definition television: During the retro ballad “Save a Prayer”, instead of holding up the customary lighter, much of the crowd at Wembley Arena raised glowing mobile phones to the air to create the intimate atmosphere that is the “power ballad lighter thing”.

Does this mean that Duran Duran fans are now non-smokers? Or maybe Wembley doesn’t allow smoking. Or maybe everyone was bored and already talking on the phone when the song came on, and it was more convenient to lift that in that in the air, rather than dig out their lighter. And then again, this could mean that the average person is now more likely to have a mobile phone, than a lighter on them (while watching Duran Duran–an extremely scientific metric).

Whatever it means, Duran Duran is still touring–and people with mobile phones like it.


  1. Dante says:

    Man, that is so 21st century!

  2. western dave says:

    I’ve seen this at a few different shows lately. Phantom Planet, who opened for Sting, asked everyone with a cell phone to hold it up during their final song. Guess they are educating the masses on the lighter alternative.

  3. Dale Cruse says:

    My guess is that the stadium doesn’t allow lighters but does allow cell phones.

  4. Ben O'Neill says:

    There is no ban on lighters ;). I guess mobile phones are “cooler”. Probably because there’s no flame, haha.

  5. Glen C. says:

    Welcome to the Future
    That’s somewhat relevant. (and a cool song to boot)

  6. drmartin says:

    I went to a Green Day concert earlier this year and their opening band My Chemical Romance asked the crowd to do the same thing during one of thier slower songs. First time I had seen it, but it’s very effective and extremely cool.

  7. Jim says:

    Yeah, I saw this at a Green Day concert earlier in the year too, although it wasn’t asked for by either of the bands, people just did it spontaneously.
    I do think that people are more likely to have a mobile phone on them, at least over here in the UK. I actually think it’s been true for a few years. I can’t think of anybody my age (mid 20s) who doesn’t have a mobile phone.

  8. Rafi B. says:

    depeche mode forever

  9. Kyle says:

    Yep. Welcome to 5 years ago. Lighters are only found at reggae festivals now.
    Now the real secret is to figure out why…

  10. Chris says:

    Post a new simple quiz already.

  11. David Hall says:

    I always thought it was because people would call their friends and let their friends listen to the concert over the phone . . . . but the other comments indicate otherwise.

  12. Erin says:

    I saw Green Day in open their tour in Miami and the crowd did it for “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.
    Perhaps everyone got the idea from that (Sony Ericcson? Alltel?) commercial where everyone holds up their phone to help light a darkened football stadium.

  13. Jeff Lindsay says:

    I’ve noticed this too. Perhaps it was the commercial, but all it takes is one clever person to do it and others will follow and remember it from then on.
    I’ve seen this outside of the concert scene as well.
    I was in LA for the opening of the second Matrix movie amidst many UCLA kids. They snuck blow up balls in to throw around.
    The theater didn’t like this, so they tried to get attendants to get the balls. This turned into a keep away game.
    Eventually, they turned off the lights in a pathetic attempt to get us to stop throw the balls around. When they did this, quite immediately everybody got their cell phone out to light up the theater. It worked, and it was marvelous…

  14. I went to a Blink-182 concert last Summer, and they asked us to the same. It was awesome to turn around and see the multicolor of LEDs and, of course, it is less of a fire hazard.

  15. Ben says:

    I was at a Tom Petty concert about 2 weeks ago and noticed the same thing. Actually, the lady in front of me tried for about 20 minutes to keep her lighter going but the wind kept blowing it out, so she stuck it in her pocket, pulled out a cell phone, and didn’t skip a beat.
    Petty actually said “Thanks for holding up the lighters, I see them all.” But most people had phones…

  16. Adrian says:

    I noticed the same thing at the U2 gig last week at Twickernam. Although there were still loads more lighters than phones. I would still feel like a bit of a knob doing it. I mean waving a cell in the air doesn’t seem massively rock and roll to me. The kids these days … sigh.

  17. eddmun says:

    They did the phone thing at the Green Day concert in Milton Keynes (UK) last weekend (the one before Glastonbury) and I believe there were the odd few appearing when Coldplay headlined the pyramid stage this weekend at the aforementioned festival.
    I have a feeling there will be quite a few appearing at Live8…
    Robbie Williams also did a similar audience interaction thing at Knebworth (spell?) where all the crowd were asked to set off the flash of their cameras at the same time. That was pretty impressive as well.

  18. Nick Toye says:

    RE: #7 – I can’t think of anyone older than 12 who doesn’t have a mobile phone.
    Does this mean that we need to start wearing radiation suits at gigs from now on or was all that gamma warnings a publicity trick by mobile phone companies?

  19. Tom Clancy says:

    Mike Doughty has been asking the audience to do this for a while. He takes a picture each time.
    (Watching the Sox on 882 and you just left it on, huh Dan?)

  20. I will be going to the Roskilde Festival this week and on Saturday both Green Day and Duran Duran are scheduled to play after each other on the Orange stage – it will be exiting to see if everybody is going to use their mobiles instead of their ligthers.

    If I remember I will report back here on SimpleBits.

  21. Like a bunch of other people, I’ve noticed this as well. It’s kinda neat to be in the crowd and look back over your shoulder and see a sea of eerie blue lcds…

  22. AgentWhite says:

    My experience of this is that people have called someone on the phone and they are holding it up into the air so the person on the other end can hear.
    The next logical step would be to build a mobile phone with a lighter built in. Thus bringing two commonly carried objects into one (for smokers only)

  23. Knut Karnapp says:

    Blink 182 did it too on their concerts across Germany : )

  24. Jason Beaird says:

    I guess I’ll go ahead and add my me too experience here. I posted about it back in February after Ames and I noticed this at a Rascal Flatts concert: Cellphones, The New Lighters. There’s a blurry picture of the phenomenon at the bottom of the post.

  25. Watching Razor Light at the Ally Pally, I was drawn to the same conclusion. I think the younger generation, are a bit more wise to the dangers of inducing tar into their lungs and everybody has a mobile. I could still smell the aroma of more than a few spliffs, but the phone-come-camera-come-ipod is standard teen issue nowadays. And, If the gig is pants, you can always listen to your mp3′s or book a cab out of there – isn’t technology empowering?

  26. I’d say it’s just the future catching up to itself. At U2′s shows during the Vertigo tour in the US, Bono asks everyone in the audience to hold up their cell phones during One, as part of the whole One Campaign thing.

  27. Jared says:

    …and so it begins. The details of which remain unclear.

  28. Dave says:

    Lol how true 21st century-like

  29. Darren says:

    This is sweet. My band was playing a show a few months ago and during a slow part of our songs, someone lifted up their cell phone, and then all of a sudden the crowd became illuminated in a blu-ish glow. It was sweet.

  30. Cristian Lavaque says:

    Maybe they don’t burn their fingers after holding the mobile phone on for a while as they do with a lit lighter. That and showing that they also have a mobile phone, and maybe while at it, they also shot pics of the concert above the heads of the rest. :)

  31. Small Paul says:

    I think I did that at a concert a couple of years ago. But I always figured people were trying to take pictures on their camera phones.

  32. melanie says:

    Dan- I witnessed this at a Duran Duran concert- which was excellent btw- they just started a new tour with all five original members fyi…good as ever and Also recently in Boston at a Bon Jovi show the same phenomenon occured- very cool indeed

  33. Justin Atack says:

    Yeah I can confirm this as well… I was at the Coldplay concert in London at the Crystal Palace on the 27th and everybody was using mobile phones… even though there was plenty of smokers there.
    On a different note… this message comes from the new cool Apple store in Regent St – London… sweet… What a joy it is to see two 30inch LCD’s side by side in their natural habitat grazing on the power of a G5.

  34. Adam says:

    We went to the U2 concert back in April and as part of an Anti-Poverty campaign that Bono was involved in he encouraged people to bring out their cell phones and call the prime minister.

  35. Daryl says:

    I hate seeing people trying to take pictures with their camera phones and digital cameras. I find it distracting while standing behind them.
    I will say, however, that during Hurt (Nine Inch Nails), I considered using my phone as I didn’t have a lighter… I stopped myself, considering how lame I would feel holding up a phone.

  36. Aron says:

    FYI, today has been 2005 days since the millenium
    that’s the year too
    cause for a party:)
    (I have been looking at the MS Visual Studio calendar control too long)

  37. Timo says:

    I’ve used mobile phone as a “ballad lighter” since i quit smoking. I just don’t have a lighter anymore :)
    Will Ozzy Osbourne shout on his show “Show me your f**king mobile phones!” from now on?

  38. Erwin Heiser says:

    I had the same observation during the recent U2 concert when Bono said to the crowd:”Whip out your cellphones” and the entire stadium lit up like a christmas tree.
    Congrats on the new book btw, if it’s only half as good as the markup book it’ll be a keeper ;-)

  39. Scholar says:

    I’ve seen people raising their cell phones at concerts lately, and all I can figure is that Satan is behind it. Check my site for more insane conspiracy theories and other stuff that’s lovably weird.

  40. Arran says:

    Over here in the uk about 90% of people have mobile phones and he majority of them amoungst young people being video phones.

  41. 3stripe says:

    Anyone got a photo of this then!!??

  42. Eric says:

    Life Imitates Art: There was a Doonesbury strip about 10 years ago where Zonker was at a Paul McCartney concert. Somebody yells ‘TRIBUTE!’ and people start asking, ‘Does anyone have a lighter?’ (One guy offered his pager.)
    The guy next to Zonker explained that he had quit smoking pot.
    Z: Really??
    Guy: Had to. My grandkids were all over my case.
    (Too bad the Doonesbury archive got sold to Slate, or I’d put up the link :-\

  43. Reg Tait says:

    I witnessed the same thing at a Morrissey concert in Manchester last year. Instead of lighters, there was a whole sea of glowing little blue squares.
    It looked like a communal lighter-in-the-air thing, but I guess it was just people taking pictures and recording movies on their mobile phones.

  44. dave says:

    Duran Duran at Wembley on HDTV? Do I sense a little INHD?
    Well, I just think that people raised mobile phones because they didn’t have a lighter or something along those lines. This is not the first time I’ve seen this happen, however, I really don’t think lighters would be banned at Wembley.

  45. Dave says:

    The first thing I though of while reading this was, “What a bunch of nerds!” But after thinking about it, I bet it looks kind of cool. At least the people aren’t talking on the phones during the concert. Now that’s annoying.

  46. Alan Every says:

    Maybe its so people don’t burn their fingers? Then again they could just be sampling the music…

  47. danny says:

    I’ve noticed this as well. It’s kinda neat to be in the crowd and look back over your shoulder and see a sea of eerie blue lcds

  48. hangton says:

    I will say, however, that during Hurt (Nine Inch Nails), I considered using my phone as I didn’t have a lighter…