It’s a moment I’ll remember forever.
I’m sitting in a stadium full of 60,000 Coldplay fans, the chilly and dark atmosphere tense with anticipation. In fades the ambient intro to “A Head Full of Dreams,” and sea of wristbands awaken unexpectedly and bathe the crowd in a warm red glow. Cheers echo across as Will Champion’s beats and Guy Berryman’s bass line begin, and Jonny Buckland’s guitar riff enters. The spotlight illuminates Coldplay onstage, rainbow fireworks explode, and Chris Martin dances forward spinning merrily and crooning “oh, I think I’ve landed / in a world I hadn’t seen!”
I’ve liked Coldplay for a while now, but I rarely attend (non-classical) concerts, so when one of my best friends scored Coldplay tickets for Saturday, we fulfilled a longtime dream: Coldplay, live.
I knew it was going to be spectacular because Coldplay are just as much showmen as they are musicians. They work hard on their reputation as four joyful worldly Englishmen creating accessible music. They craft a strong visual theme to accompany each album, so for this tour for A Head Full of Dreams (2015) I expected rainbows and circle matrices.
Hence, two giant hexagonal screens and a hexagonal stage for the Flower of Life iconography. Hence, chains of lights lining the stage and a forest of LED lamps onstage that could glow any color of the rainbow. Rainbow fireworks, Rainbow confetti. Even the giant edges of the stadium clamshell glowed rainbow! And the wristbands:
The fact I rarely attend such immersive and interactive giant spectacles made everything unexpected all the more enthralling. I was so caught off-guard when it was the wristband itself that started glowing! The atmosphere of 60,000 Coldplay fans waving alighted arms to the music (me included) was magical. Larger than life.
Also, everything that I that I expected to be exciting live indeed lived up to expectations. Coldplay very much writes music designed for the massive crowd. The repetitive “oh-oh-ohh-oh-ohhhhhhhh-oh” in “Viva la Vida” is written as a sing-along, and it totally works when Will leads the backup stadium as Chris sings the chorus. Same goes in “Paradise” with “para-para–paradise.” The jumping-on-beat opportunity in “Charlie Brown,” the dance breakdown of “A Sky Full of Stars,” and the silly ape dance of “Adventure of a Lifetime” are all chances to engage the energy of the crowd, and Coldplay used them all.
For the more pensive songs, like the atmospheric “Magic” and Chris Martin’s solo rendition of “Everglow,” they used the stadium set well to make it feel almost intimate.
Of course, they played their classics. “Yellow” was song #2. “Don’t Panic,” the first song they ever performed in America (in this very city!) was on this 2017 setlist. I can’t memorize lyrics ever, except that I’ve listened to old Coldplay so much that I could sing the “Scientist” chorus “Nobody said it was easy” and harmonize in “Fix You” with “Tear stream down your face / when you lose something you cannot replace.”
All the while, our wristbands glowed in unison or in twinkling rainbows. The very stadium rumbled beneath the 60,000 of us united by this band and the music they create. It was a spectacular evening I’ll treasure.
Setlist (wristband colors): A Sky Full of Stars (red); Yellow (yellow); Every Teardrop is a Waterfall (purple); Scientist; God Put a Smile Upon Your Face; Paradise (rainbow); Always in my Head (gray-blue); Magic (gray-blue); Everglow; Clocks; Midnight interlude; Charlie Brown (rainbow); Hymn for the Weekend (orange); Fix You (orange); Viva la Vida (purple); Adventure of a Lifetime (purple rainbow); Kaleidoscope interlude; In My Place; Don’t Panic; Us Against the World; interlude; Something Just Like This (red white blue); Sky Full of Stars (pink); Up & Up (purple-blue).