God put a smile upon my face. Or rather, Coldplay did on Saturday night. I would challenge anyone who attended the Mt Smart gig to tell me they didn’t have a smile on their face at several times throughout the extravaganza that was Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto concert. Chris Martin declared at the outset that he knew we had paid a lot for our tickets, that many of us had travelled from far away to attend, and so they were going to ensure we got sufficient bang for our buck. And bangs we got.
It began with fireworks and confetti. Not content to save that for the end like most bands (who use such tools that is), they opened with it. From that start, continuing on to when they introduced numerous massive bouncing balls around the crowd, to later on when weird inflated graffiti covered shapes appeared around the stadium, it was clear that this wasn’t just a stand and deliver concert. This was a SHOW.
Some purists would argue that such things detract from the music itself and some, of the more cynically minded, would say that Coldplay just do it to hide the fact that they can’t perform well live. Well, this being the fourth time I have seen them live – and having seen them once very early on at the St James when they were very stripped back and simple – I can testify to the fact that they can blow the roof off any venue with their instruments and voices alone. They are consummate performers, and have mastered the art of starting out a track so quietly and peacefully that you feel you are in a tiny venue rather than a massive stadium, but then building up (in the same track) to a massive foot-stomping anthem (‘God Put a Smile Upon Your Face’ being a great example of that on Saturday).
So no, the extra bells and whistles aren’t to cover anything, and they don’t detract at all. They make it an experience rather than just a rendition of an album live. Probably the highlight last night was the use of wristbands which every audience member was given on entry, that lit up in unison at various times throughout the show. It turned the massive Mt Smart audience into a sea of colours, and achieved the same thing as lighter waving/smart phone waving but to a much more colourful and co-ordinated effect. Simple, but brilliant.
Chris Martin was his usual energetic self – though the rest of the band seemed to have been working out too – as they were all making use of the ego ramp (the long extension of the stage out into the crowd, not sure who termed that phrase but I like it), and running around like mad people. They also did something I have seen Keane and – yep I am going to admit it – Bryan Adams do before, which was to have an additional stage set up half way back in the middle of the stadium so that people near the back get a better view for a wee while too. The amusing fact for me was, watching from the stands, I got to watch the sea of people on the grass moving to and fro – from the main stage to the other stage and back again – which closely resembled a herd of not so graceful antelope moving around 😉
The only criticism at all I have of the show doesn’t relate to the show itself, but to audience etiquette. (I am very mindful writing this by the way that to even comment on audience etiquette probably makes me an old codger (if a codger can be a female Rodger), but I am going to do it anyway). Why, pray tell, like the woman in front of us, would you specifically buy a seated ticket, when standing tickets are available, and then stand for the ENTIRE CONCERT??? I can understand standing near the end when the songs necessitate bouncing and Chris says something like ‘stand up and I’ll buy you all icecream’. But all the way through, therefore forcing people behind you to stand as well and create a domino effect, or crane to see around you? Not cool lady, not cool.
But, that aside, Coldplay were a class act. I almost didn’t go, as I haven’t bought their last two albums and am not as big a fan as I once was, but my lovely friends Carina and Isaac were coming up from Nelson for it and insisted on buying me a ticket to thank me for letting them stay. And I am so grateful for that – it was a fabulous evening and I would recommend Coldplay live to anyone. Dare you to not smile 😉