How Coldplay inspired John Prats to direct concerts

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
How Coldplay inspired John Prats to direct concerts
In 2023, John Prats directed a total of 25 shows, from milestone concerts of OPM artists to fan meets of South Korean stars.
Photos from John Prats’ Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — In the past year, John Prats stepped back from on-cam projects and focused on being behind the scenes, directing 25 shows, from milestone concerts of OPM artists to fan meets of South Korean stars. Interestingly, it was the British rock band Coldplay that inspired him to become a concert director.

“I started realizing I wanted to direct a concert when I watched the last time Coldplay was here (in 2017). I felt something when I was watching Coldplay, it was at the MOA (Mall of Asia) grounds at that time. I felt something na one month na yata yun, ‘di pa ako maka-move on. Iba yung impact,” John, who was spotted with wife Isabel Oli attending Coldplay’s return concert at the Philippine Arena last week, recalled in a recent press interview.

“I realized ito ang gusto ko maramdaman ng manonood. I always consider the concert-goers na even sa gen ad (general admission), it’s not easy for them. Kahit sabihin mong P800 yung gen ad ticket, pinag-ipunan nila yun, sinave nila dun, so I wanted to give them the best.”

John, who first ventured into directing in 2018 via Moira dela Torre’s first major concert, is grateful that he has also earned the trust to helm a number of fan meets and musical shows for visiting Korean artists.

He was able to direct Kim Soo Hyun and Cha Eun Woo for Dunkin’, Glee Minzy for her first Asia Tour in Manila, Park Bom’s first fan concert in Manila, as well as the Kpop Overpass Music Concert, Be You 3: The World Will Smile and K-Magic Live headlined by Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon, SHINee’s Taemin, and GOT7’s Yugyeom.

Though he wasn’t familiar with the Korean artists when he first directed them, he said that having a K-pop and K-drama fan of a wife in Isabel also helped him do better at his job.

“When I started directing K-pop concerts (shows), wala akong hilig. Nung nag-k-Kpop ako, sinasabi niya sa akin, ‘Napapanood or kilala ko yan.’ Like for example, when I directed Cha Eun Woo for the fan meet, sobra siyang kilig na kilig,” he shared.

“At that time, ‘di ko kilala, sobra akong walang idea, which for me was better for me because ‘di ako naging fan, I was focused on (the work at hand). If ever I would direct Coldplay, Justin Timberlake baka ‘di ko … because I’m such a fan.”

John further shared some anecdotes from past work experiences with Korean stars: “Cha Eun Woo was fun and light to work with. Sobrang bait. Madali kausap. Nung unang dating niya naka-jogging pants lang siya and hoodie.”

He added, “Medyo nakaka-English siya so andali magbigay ng direksyon. He would go, ‘Got it, got it,’ so ang dali niyang katrabaho and he even extended kasi dapat 30 minutes lang yong program n’ya. Sabi nya, no I’m okay with one hour, I’m okay.”

John with wife Isabel Oli enjoying the Music of the Spheres concert of British superstar band Coldplay at the Philippine Arena. According to the actor-turned-director, he was inspired to direct concerts after watching Coldplay’s 2017 concert in Manila.
Photo from John Prats’ Instagram

Before Eun Woo, he directed Soo Hyun, whom he described as “more formal.”

“Mas strict yung people around him pero mabait siya. Palo siya ng palo ng golf backstage parang nag go-golf battle and he even played at Eastridge (golf course) the day after.”

But the very first Korean artist he worked with was the Zoom hitmaker Jessi for her first solo concert in Manila in late 2022. “Nung nag-rehearse kami, dumating siya Friday, Saturday yung show, ni-run talaga namin yung show na para na kaming nag concert na. Ganun siya ka perfectionist… Perfect yung concert kasi na-rehearse namin siya talaga.”

Asked about the challenges of working with Korean artists, John said, “The process kasi you just don’t do a program now and do it… all the programs na ginagawa mo for that show, they should be approved by them and should be approved by the artists themselves.

“It’s difficult in a sense because of the back and forth, and they’re strict.”

However, John could say that it’s now easy to work with them because he now knows how things work.

In terms of lessons, he said he learned a lot from them, especially the technical aspects of mounting shows.

He also learned how to come up with a visual presentation beforehand, detailing what to expect such as what appears on the LED for each song or the overall look of the stage.

“It’s very professional the way we handle now. Dati kasi drawing lang ako sa papel,” John pointed out. “Natutunan ko yan sa Koreans talaga. So ina-apply ko ngayon sa atin, even the way they light a show.”

He, nevertheless, observed that with some Filipino fans of Korean artists, “ayaw mong nasisilaw ka. ‘Pag Filipino artist, okay lang.” So, for him, the challenge lies with the audiences who enjoy raising their phones and recording during shows.

He has read online complaints from local fans about phones supposedly being “blinded” by the lights. He was, however, told by Korean counterparts that lighting here and there is the same, but that it doesn't really matter to the audience there.

At any rate, John shared a lesson from Coldplay's 2017 concert, where frontman Chris Martin urged fans to put down their phones for a meaningful connection.

With Filipino audiences attending Korean fan meets or shows, John noticed their tendency to raise their phones always. However, the concert director recognizes the positive aspect of not being busy holding up phones, stressing the importance of savoring the unique moments of a concert as an intimate connection between the audience and the artist.

He said, “That’s the whole point of having a concert — for you to enjoy the moment… Enjoy kasi hindi mo na mare-replicate ‘yun.”

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