Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Glowing in the Dark

Review of Coldplay at Emirates Stadium, 4th June, 2012, by George Neame 

It seems unfortunate that the two support acts, Rita Ora followed by Robyn, failed to really engage with the crowd due to both a lack of high-profile stage set-ups and, frankly, a deficiency in quality music. Nevertheless the predicted rain held out and by 8.30pm the Emirates Stadium buzzed with anticipation as over 50,000 Coldplay fans eagerly awaited the emergence of one of the world’s most popular bands.

55 million albums, 7 Brit awards and a staggering 20 Grammy nominations after releasing first album Parachutes in 2000, Coldplay have become household names across the globe. It came as no surprise then that the explosion of golden fireworks as Chris Martin, Johnny Buckland, Will Champion and Guy Berryman took to the stage was matched by a similar ear-splitting volume of screams from men, women, teenagers and children alike.

Copyright 2012 Sam Skeet
Written in graffiti on a bridge in the park “Do you ever get the feeling that you’re missing the mark?”’ asks Martin as the band burst into Hurts Like Heaven from latest album Mylo Xyloto which became the UK’s biggest-selling rock album of 2011 despite its relatively late release. Even with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert posing as a possible rival elsewhere in the capital, it seems that everybody in London is part of the sea of waving arms that flood from front to back of the stadium. In My Place begins with an eruption of colour as confetti of all shades rains down on the crowd, each in the shape of a different symbol representing individual songs on the new album. With startling and memorable riffs and an incredible onstage energy, the band rattle through a series of hits both old and new, from the touchingly melancholy The Scientist to the rip-roaring guitar solo on Violet Hill.

As the rattling crescendo of God Put A Smile Upon Your Face comes to an end, the foursome make their way into the middle of the stadium onto the B-stage where they play a pair of new songs before Chris Martin is left alone with the piano, performing Warning Sign, a less well-known ballad from the A Rush of Blood to the Head era. Returning to the main stage as the sun makes it way firmly out of sight and the arena is left in a chilling blackness, the true spectacle of the evening can finally start. As the echoing and spine-tingling prelude to Charlie Brown begins, the stadium becomes awash with light, flashing in sync from the specially-designed wristbands that every member of the crowd has held high in the air. ‘Luminous and wired, we’ll be glowing in the dark’ seems a fitting lyrical end to such a vibrant song that unites the crowd as one and creates such an indescribable atmosphere.

With recent single Paradise coming to a close, the band disappear into the dark, before emerging again to mass surprise at the far end of the stadium, on a tiny stage tucked away into the corner. Martin begins Us Against the World alone, with each band member appearing to a cacophony of applause and cheers throughout. Not all the surprises Coldplay have hidden up their sleeves have been exhausted by this point though, as a grinning Simon Pegg appears, harmonica pressed to his lips, to assist with Speed of Sound, ending with his own solo before comically announcing ‘Thank you London!’ and returning below stage.

It is true that the best is usually saved until last, but it is only as Coldplay return to the main stage for their encore that the crowd truly comprehends that there is still more to come. Dazzling lasers and a spectacular show of fireworks complement the epic proportions of Clocks and Fix You, before the wristbands are at work again for the finale of Every Teardrop is a Waterfall where Martin’s trademark dance moves are eventually displayed to the same crushing drum beats that closed 2011’s Glastonbury Festival in such incredible styleAfter thanking the crowd and reminding them that ‘I don’t care what Lady Gaga says, we’ve got the best fans in the world’, the band take a deserved bow and vanish to the crackle of the fireworks still lighting up the sky.

With a performance straight off the back of an album that is built on the colour and beauty of everyday life, Coldplay if just for two hours managed to somehow unite thousands of different people in a display of colour and music that was equally grand and impressive. It will certainly prove to be a memorable event for those who were lucky enough to get tickets for the date that had to be added to the tour schedule after the first two in London sold out in less than 30 minutes, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Coldplay perform live before.

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