It’s been quite a week and a half for live music here in Auckland…Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Ben Harper and Radiohead…and now the biggest show of the bunch, Coldplay at Mt Smart Stadium. With the technological showcase that Radiohead displayed at The Vector this past Tuesday, I was interested to see how Coldplay’s arena show stacked up against Radiohead’s. Well, for one thing, they started with a bang.
Usually the fireworks are saved for the encore, but Chris Martin and company had them shooting skyward right from the start. And that wasn’t all, there were lasers, there was confetti, there were balloons and there were wristbands that flashed in the dark. Every member of the audience was given a wristband as the entered the stadium and encouraged to wear it as it was “part of the show”. Sure enough after a few minutes of hearing Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, the lights abruptly went out and the wrist bands all began flashing with the band’s very first notes. It looked incredible.
During In My Places cannons were firing off confetti throughout the venue. During Lovers In Japan the balloons came out. There was certainly plenty to see, even if the band itself looked tiny at the far end of the stadium.
Sound-wise, things weren’t so impressive. Where I was sitting, about halfway back along the side, the vocals were mostly unintelligible and the music was muddy. It’s a shame as much care and effort wasn’t put into the music as the special effects.
I must say, no one seemed to mind. There was plenty of singing along and clapping and cheering. The songs from Coldplay’s latest, Mylo Xyloto, sound like they were written for stadiums with loads of “whoas” and “Ooooos” throughout the songs. And they performed just about the entire album.
Of course there were the old favourites as well…Yellow got an early airing as did The Scientist and Vive La Vida had everyone up and singing.
Chris Martin seemed determined to be everywhere at once, running cheerily from one end of the stage to the other, up the middle ramp and eventually to the rear of the stadium. In addition to the main stage, the band set up on a smaller stage further into the crowd for several songs beginning with Princess Of China, which also featured a video appearance by Rihanna.
Then, for the encore, Martin, and eventually the rest of the band appeared on another smaller stage at the rear of the stadium playing an acoustic version of Us Against The World, which was, for me, one of the musical high points.
Although this is a show that has been playing around the world for some time, with the identical set list performed each time, Martin did try to inject some spontaneity into the proceedings. He dedicated Yellow to Christchurch and thanked the many fans who had come from all over the country, particularly the South Island.
At one point they stopped God Put A Smile Upon Your Face and re-started it, apologizing that they had messed it up. I have my doubts. It seemed to sound the same both times, and they have apparently pulled this stunt at previous shows.
After performing Fix You as the fourth song of the encores, Martin asked if we wanted one more song…as if there was any stopping him. There were still more fireworks, more lasers and more lights to flicker before we were send off into the night.
The many fans in attendance looked like they loved the show. For me, I found the music rather uninspiring…which is the opposite of the effect they were aiming for. Plus, they just seem a bit too eager to please and the special effects showed that they were willing to go to any length to do just that.
There seemed to be a lot of pre-recorded music mixed with the live instruments and I couldn’t help but feel I was being manipulated in some way.
I’m sure I was in the minority, and it’s always good to see so many folks enjoying music together. I’m afraid I wasn’t one of them this time.
Click here to see a gallery of concert photos shot by The 13th Floor’s mighty Michael Flynn:
Coldplay Set List:
- Mylo Xyloto
- Hurts Like Heaven
- In My Place
- Major Minus
- Lovers In Japan
- The Scientist
- Violet Hill
- God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
- Princess Of China
- Up In Flames
- Warning Sign
- Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
- Vive La Vida
- Charlie Brown
- Us Against The World
- Speed Of Sound
- Fix You
- Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall