From Dave to The Killers: proof that shouting loud enough sometimes gets you a guest spot in your favourite band
The Killers had unexpected guest join them onstage at a show last week. Scottish teacher Kyle Grieve attended the band’s Falkirk Stadium gig armed with a lot of self-belief and a cardboard sign which read: Can I drum? Unfortunately Grieve caught lead singer Brandon Flowers’ attention a little too late. “If you want to drum you need to mean business,” Flowers told the hopeful audience member.
Undeterred, Grieve was back the next night with new sign. Tonight I mean business, it read. Flowers brought Grieve up onstage to drum during ‘For Reasons Unknown’ in front of the 20,000-strong crowd.
It’s a lovely live music moment, but not as totally one-off as it might have felt to the crowd. In the last decade or so, it’s become increasingly common for artists to bring audience members up to perform with them onstage, sometimes deliberately planning for it in their sets. Here are some of our favourite moments of surprise audience participation.
During a gig in Croatia, audience member Richard Greenbury offered to jump on stage as a favour to Taylor Hawkins. Taylor, if you need a break, I can drum? his sign read. Ticked by the fan’s audacity, front man Dave Grohl brough Greenbury onstage for ‘Wheels’. The encouragement from one of his favourite bands and the rush of playing live to an excited crowd eventually led Greenbury to form his own band, Dead Air. Their debut single dropped this year and is entitled ‘Am I High?’ – probably what went through Greenbury’s mind as he made his way up to that stage.
The British rapper has had not one but two viral fan interactions onstage. The first was with Alex Mann, or ‘Alex from Glasto’ (not prizes for guessing where this took place). Mann rapped AJ Tracey’s verse in ‘Thiago Silva’, electrifying the crowd. The success of this moment prompted Dave to recreate it with ‘Spike from London’, picked out of the crowd at Coachella to rap the same verse.
Pop star Jessie J was performing at Electric Castle festival in Romania when she spotted some talent in the front row. 10-year-old Adalia was singing and dancing her heart out, and even though she couldn’t hear the girl’s vocals, Jessie had a gut instinct that she was talented. Knowing she had five extra minutes in her set to fill, she decided to bring Adalia up on stage for a duet of ‘Masterpiece’. The 10-year-old gave an insanely professional performance to the packed crowd that – fair warning – may bring a tear to your eye.
Perhaps Adele should have guessed that an audience member willing to come up and sing onstage in Los Angeles already had a foot in the door of the showbiz world. Hilariously, what she didn’t realise when she brought up Jamie Grace to sing in 2016 was that Grace was already a successful recording artist and Grammy nominee. Her shock at the singer-songwriter’s vocal talents was evident.
The band brought 11-year-old guitar player Meyer up from the audience in Pennsylvania to join them for a version of Operation Ivy’s ‘Knowledge’. The performance featured Billie Joe Armstrong guiding the boy through a trademark flying leap off the drum platform, and he even got to keep the guitar.
When a mother interrupted Bublé’s set to ask if the singer could duet with her teenager, Bublé initially treated the whole thing as a joke. Agreeing to bring Sam up on stage, Bublé sat with his arm around the 15-year-old and offered him the mic for a line of ‘Feeling Good’. Upon hearing Sam’s voice, he was electrified, pulling the boy to his feet for a proper performance of the song.
Back in 1973, drummer Keith Moon fainted twice during a gig and was eventually forced to leave the stage. A promoter found nineteen-year-old Scot Halpin in the crowd and asked: “Can you do it?” Not only did Halpin successfully finish the set with the band, he was also awarded Pick-Up Player of the Year by Rolling Stone.
Pianist Ferdinand Schwartz held up a very polite sign at a Coldplay concert in Munich. Can I play ‘Everglow’ for you? it read. Underneath were some chords, just to prove that Schwartz knew the song. Front man Chris Martin asked a few times if Schwartz was serious. Receiving confident nods in reply, he invited Schwartz onstage for a rendition of the track. Schwartz proved a good stand-in, and is still a professional pianist to this day.