I’ve seen Coldplay in concert a lot. By far, I’ve seen Dave Matthews Band the most times, but it’s a tight race for who I’ve seen the second most times between U2, The Cure, and Coldplay. I started to go see them live in the early 2000’s during their A Rush of Blood to the Head tour. Coldplay shows have changed a lot over the years. In the early 2000’s, they alternated between arenas and large outdoor venues. Those shows didn’t have a lot of flash, but were always a lot of fun and featured the high energy of Chris Martin.
In 2011, they embarked on the Mylo Xyloto tour. I saw the tour when they came for a two-night stand in July at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. That tour is when the band first introduced their light-up wristbands for the fans, which added a whole new dimension to the show and which became a spectacle in and of itself.
They continued upping their game with their current A Head Full of Dreams tour, which has seen them move to stadiums. I caught them in Philadelphia last year during their first North America leg of the tour. They’ve returned to North America this summer, but with no stops in Philadelphia, I had to travel to them in North Jersey on August 1st, and DC on August 6th.
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HISTORY OF THE BAND
Today, Coldplay is arguably one of the biggest bands in the world. They have been selling out arenas around the world on their latest tour for the last 18 months, and they sell millions of records. But, like any other band, Coldplay started small and slowly worked their way up to the popularity they enjoy today.
Coldplay consists of Chris Martin (lead vocals, piano, keyboard), Jonny Buckland (lead guitar), Guy Berryman (bass guitar) and Will Champion (drums, backing vocals). The band formed in 1996 when Martin and Buckland met at University College London. After adding Berryman and Champion, and going through a few name changes, they officially became known as Coldplay in 1998.
Coldplay first gained worldwide attention in 2000, with the release of their hit song “Yellow” (which is still a staple at Coldplay shows), followed by the release of their debut album “Parachutes”.
As often happens when a band has huge success with a debut album, they originally struggled with the recording of their second album – “A Rush of Blood to the Head”. However, they recorded the song “In My Place”, and the rest of the music started rolling from there. They ended up writing more than 20 songs for the album, 11 of which actually ended up on it including “Clocks” and “The Scientist”.
Coldplay’s next album was “X&Y”, which ended up being the best-selling album of 2005, and included the song that Coldplay is probably best known for – “Fix You”.
Coldplay’s next album – “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” – had the band take a completely different direction musically. The music started to be more and more “Top 20” and mainstream. That continued with their 2011 release – “Mylo Xyloto” – which also marked a Coldplay album release being a whole production with a theme, rather than just an album.
In 2014, the band went yet another direction, with the release of its album “Ghost Stories”. The album is a departure from the signature upbeat Coldplay sound, with most of the songs being more morose and slow. In fact, the band only did a small six date tour in support of the album, with all shows in smaller and more intimate venues, which fit the mood of the record much better.
Coldplay’s latest album – “A Head Full of Dreams” – was released in 2015, and returned to the same vibes as Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto. The band embarked on a world tour in support of the album in 2016, and have been touring ever since. You can download A Head Full of Dreams here.
MET LIFE STADIUM – EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 1, 2017
Coldplay has two opening acts supporting them on this leg of their North American tour – Izzy Bizu and AlunaGeorge. Bizu is a British singer/songwriter, and AlunaGeorge is an electronic music duo from London. While both performers did a good job, they seemed a bit out of their league for opening in a huge stadium for one of the biggest bands in the world. While I appreciate big artists supporting lesser known artists and giving them an outlet to have people hear their music, I would have liked a more well-known band to open and get the crowd going.
Coldplay finally came on stage right before 9:00 p.m. From the minute it starts, the show is non-stop lights, fireworks, confetti, and energy from the band. They opened the show with “A Head Full of Dreams”, complete with fireworks and lots of confetti.
Before going into their first big hit – “Yellow” – Chris Martin announced to the sold out crowd, that this was the 90th show of the tour, but they considered the first 89 shows the rehearsal for this show, and that they were going to give us the best show they had ever given.
The band certainly didn’t disappoint. They proceeded to crank through some of their bigger and more upbeat hits, including “The Scientist” and “Paradise”, before moving down to the end of the stage to slow things down a bit with “Always in My Head”, “Magic” and “Everglow”.
The band headed back to the main stage to pick back up the pace with “Clocks”. Shortly after, they started playing one of my personal favorites – “Charlie Brown”. After starting it, Martin stopped the song and announced to the crowd that he wanted them to do him a favor. He asked that everyone put their cell phones away for just one song, and jump with him. After starting back up, “Charlie Brown” turned into one giant party in the stadium, with everyone around us jumping and singing.
Coldplay continued to play through their catalog of hits, including their always popular (and one of my favorite songs of all time) – “Fix You”. As is a signature in a Coldplay show, the band disappeared after “Adventure of a Lifetime”, and re-appeared on a smaller stage at the back of the football field. The songs there included “Don’t Panic” which featured Will Champion on lead vocals, complete with birthday balloons tied around his neck.
After, the other three guys left the small stage leaving just Chris Martin at the keyboard. Chris introduced the next song, by saying he hoped it was a song that could heal people – particularly those in the music world. He said they don’t often do covers, but felt this one was appropriate, and he hoped he could do it well. In fact, he started the song and then stopped when he screwed up right at the beginning, and started over. He said it was important to get it right. After he started again and began the lyrics, you quickly realized that it was a stripped down and slowed down version of Linkin Park’s “Crawling”, dedicated to their lead singer Chester Benniington who had died of an apparent suicide the week before.
The band then returned to the main stage to wrap up the show, starting with their current hit single “Something Just Like This”. The show wrapped up with Chris back on his piano on “Up & Up”.
Set List: A Head Full of Dreams, Yellow, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, The Scientist, God Put a Smile Upon Your Face, Paradise, Always in My Head, Magic, Everglow, Clocks, Midnight, Charlie Brown, Hymn for the Weekend, Fix You, Viva La Vida, Adventure of a Lifetime, Kaleidoscope, In My Place, Don’t Panic, Crawling (Linkin Park cover), Something Just Like This (The Chainsmokers/Coldplay cover), A Sky Full of Stars, Up & Up
FEDEX FIELD – LANDOVER, MD – AUGUST 6, 2017
Night two of my Coldplay adventure didn’t disappoint. Even though the set list is virtually the same, the show is so good that it’s worth seeing again. We were lucky enough to have even better seats for this show – on the field about 20 rows from the stage. Being on the field for these shows really adds to the whole experience.
Again, the band came on stage right around 9:00 p.m., and starts out with a bang on “A Head Full of Dreams”, complete with lots of flashing lights, fireworks and confetti. The wristbands that are passed out to everyone and light up during the show then turn yellow, to go with their classic song “Yellow”.
I really enjoyed “The Scientist” tonight. Chris Martin’s vocals were really strong, and I love when he is on the piano during the show.
Tonight, in the spot that had “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” at Tuesday’s show, they did “Birds”, which is one of the songs off their newer album. Not a great swap in my opinion. I much prefer having more of the older songs to mix things up more.
Just like on Tuesday night, the band moved to the end of the extended stage to slow things down for “Always in My Head”, “Magic”, and “Everglow”. We had a great view of the area they played in, and it was nice to see the interaction between the guys when they were playing close together on a smaller stage.
When you see the show twice, you do realize how choreographed it is, even down to the things Chris Martin says between songs. He kicked off the show with the same banter about tonight being the 92nd show of the tour, and they considered the other 91 shows a rehearsal for this show. He also did the same thing as he did on Tuesday night during “Charlie Brown”, where he started the song and then stopped it, asking the audience to put away their cell phones and just jump with him.
The difference in the show came when they re-appeared on the small stage towards the end of the show. The lights came up and they started “In My Place”, but clearly screwed up the first couple of notes. Martin stopped the song and asked the light guys to shut the lights off and then bring them back up so they could start over again right. Martin joked about it, saying they were doing so well and then they f**ked that up!
The acoustic songs on the small stage included “Trouble” off their first album “Parachutes”, which was the night’s fan request song. The other three guys left the stage, and Martin stayed with his guitar and did “Green Eyes”, which is off their album “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and something you don’t hear often at their shows, so it was a nice treat.
As usual, the show wrapped up with “Something Just Like This” and “A Sky Full of Stars”, which included more lights, confetti, pyrotechnics and fireworks. The band wraps things up by slowing down with “Up & Up” featuring Martin on his piano, and taking the band back to their roots as just four guys with their instruments making great music.
Set List: A Head Full of Dreams, Yellow, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, The Scientist, Birds, Paradise, Always in My Head, Magic, Everglow, Clocks, Midnight, Charlie Brown, Hymn for the Weekend, Fix You, Viva La Vida, Adventure of a Lifetime, Kaleidoscope, In My Place, Don’t Panic, Trouble (fan request song), Green Eyes, Something Just Like This (The Chainsmokers/Coldplay cover), A Sky Full of Stars, Up & Up
Coldplay puts on one of the best shows you can see out there. They give you every ounce of their energy. The lights, fireworks, videos, confetti and visuals from the wristbands will give you a visual experience you can’t get anywhere else. Yes, it is a bit choreographed and the set lists are very similar each night, but in order to coordinate a show like this and pull it off, you have to do that. I would still go see it 10 nights in a row if I could – it’s that much fun!
The A Head Full of Dreams tour is continuing throughout the U.S. over the next couple of months, before it wraps up completely with a few dates in South America. If they are coming to a town near year, definitely try to catch the show. It’s worth it!
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