I imagine that the feeling you get while attending a live Coldplay show is much like what it might feel like to ride a rainbow.
From the moment they hit the stage to the moment they walked off over two hours later, the stage, the crowd, and everything in between was showered in every colour imaginable. Imagine cleaning out every flower shop in Auckland and then crashing the truck you were using to carry out your getaway, and you should be pretty close to invisioning the scene at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night. In some situations, it might have been overwhelming, but the reality is, the Head Full of Dreams Tour is just one big, vibrant reminder of why live music is the absolute best thing in the world.
Coldplay are well known for their philanthropy and inclusiveness (they’re actively involved with organisations such as Oxfam and Global Citizen), and it only makes sense that their political and social views make it into their live shows. Prior to taking to the stage, clips of fans from all over the world were shown, greeting fans from other countries, before a video of a small group of paint-covered Kiwi fans introduced the band. Intermittently throughout, silences were filled with audio clips of inspirational speakers from the past, including Charlie Chaplin, as well as a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, performed by the one and only Barack Obama.
I’m always left entirely speechless by the energy that Coldplay manage to keep up throughout their shows, particularly since the stage covers half of the stadium, and Chris Martin is not opposed to running up and down the catwalk as though he’s taking part in the 200 metre sprint at the Olympic Games. Combined with the endless sea of colour, it makes it hard to not let that energy seep into you and make up every part of your being.
Only three songs into the set, it started raining confetti for the first time, adding to the vivacity of the night. That in itself was mesmerising, but when combined with our recently activated flashing wristbands (very, very cool), every single member of the audience had a very important part in an exceptionally beautiful light show, and it was truly out of this world.
The setlist mostly consisted of those old classic Coldplay hits that everyone from your grandma to your niece adores, and was sprinkled with a few newer tracks that the band has released in the four years since their last visit to NZ. It was a charming mix of stripped down, acoustic heart-wrenchers (such as The Scientist, Fix You, and Yellow), and uplifting heart-warmers (such as Viva La Vida, Paradise, and A Sky Full of Stars) that bring out the dancing diva in you that you never even knew existed. If I wasn’t grinning wildly, I was standing entranced with tears running down my cheeks, and I’ve never been happier.
The Scientist is my favourite Coldplay song of all time, no question, and nothing beats hearing a crowd of 40,000 people sing along as though the lyrics are a part of their very souls (which for me, they are). Both times I’ve heard it live, it’s been awfully relevant, and I might have definitely, maybe, already been sobbing my heart out, but when Chris told us that we sounded the best out of any of the 70 shows they’ve done on this tour so far, I lost it completely. It was beautiful, and even sandwiched between the psychedelic brilliance that illuminated the rest of the show, it was my favourite few minutes of the night.
The acoustic part of the show was, as always, a standout. The band made their way down the catwalk to the B-stage where, after a lovely rendition of Always in My Head and the stunning Magic, Chris Martin gave an emotional and empathetic speech, asking us to think of other parts of the world that are less fortunate than ourselves – including the South Island in his list of suggestions – before launching the latest single, Everglow.
Chris’ lame (but adorable) dance moves coupled with a totally unapologetic grin as he bounced down the catwalk made for the happiest little band member you’ve ever seen in your life. The next part of the set presented us with more confetti, lasers, and pyrotechnics, and it was this series of performances that filled me with the most joy. Mainly because it included Viva La Vida which has been one of my favourite Coldplay tracks since the moment I first heard it way back in 2008. Although the endless kaleidoscope of colours had been consistent throughout the entire show, I was constantly surprised by the endless ways they managed to incorporate it into the spectacle. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, giant multi-coloured balloons are released into the crowd, again, making everyone in the audience a vital cog in this effervescent machine.
As Adventure of a Lifetime drew to a close, the band made their way to the C-stage which was so far back in the stadium that I actually never saw it, but the three giant screens at the front left nothing to the imagination. Here, they carried out a fans’ request and played an acoustic version of Green Eyes (!!!), followed by the best version of In My Place that I’ve ever seen. The C-stage set was rounded up by a Crowded House cover of Four Seasons in One Day, during which Chris stopped to say that he just wasn’t playing it right and was subsequently joined by Neil Finn himself. It was at this point in the night where Chris Martin took the time to introduce the other members of the band, giving them all a humorous yet heartfelt synopsis that perfectly showcased the love and loyalty they each have for each other.
The final four songs on the night were, unsurprisingly, the brightest of the night. As the show was coming to an evident end, we were told to put our phones away and “trust me”, in order to fully take in our surroundings, before being treated to a final bout of star shaped confetti as A Sky Full of Stars reached its climax. Fireworks followed as the show drew to a close with Up&Up (aka the best song on A Head Full of Dreams). I found it to be an interesting choice for the closing song, with it not being one of their most well known, but it somehow left me with a sense of strength and hope – something that was certainly necessary if we wanted to make it through the seemingly endless line of people trying to catch a train at the end of the night.
I thought to myself at least 15 times throughout the 2 hour+ set, “This is why I love live music”, and while you can’t beat a sweaty 800 capacity club gig, I realised that Coldplay truly do put on the best spectacle shows in the entire world. With the added bonus of support from Jess Kent and the mind blowing Lianne La Havas, if you weren’t one of the 40,000 sparkly attendees, you have my deepest sympathies.
O mio babbino caro (Maria Callas song)
A Head Full of Dreams (extended intro with Charlie Chaplin speech)
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
Birds (with “Oceans” excerpt in intro)
Paradise (dance remix outro)
Always in My Head
Clocks (with “Army Of One” excerpt in intro)
Hymn for the Weekend
Fix You (with “Midnight” excerpt in intro)
“Heroes” (David Bowie cover)
Viva la Vida
Adventure of a Lifetime
In My Place
Four Seasons in One Day (Crowded House cover)
A Sky Full of Stars