Concert Review: Coldplay @ Emirates Stadium, London, England (with setlist)
Coldplay played a slew of shows at the O2 Arena in London just 6 months ago, but that didn’t stop them from easily fitting 50,000+ fans in the Emirates in North London for three shows this week. For those fans of the Queen, you had a dilemma on your hands last night, as the Diamond Jubilee concert with Paul McCartney, Elton John and other no names played a show to hundreds of thousands of fans outside Buckingham Palace. Now I’m not saying I chose Coldplay over a former Beatle and a once in a lifetime event – the Diamond Jubilee concert wasn’t announced until after I’d purchased my tickets.
One of the more anticipated events of the concert was the Xylobands, the glow in the dark flashing wristband that all concert attendees received. The bands are radio-controlled and cannot be reactivated (or so they think!) once you leave the show, so I am planning to never leave the stadium. Chris Martin said that the Xylobands are costing the band too much money, and they thought about having fans return them but it was deemed unsanitary (by officials, not the band). For a band that I consider to be very fun and fan-friendly, I find that a bit of a surprising statement; that he wants to detract from the fan experience and take away a memento.
Anyway, the wristbands were pretty cool. They glowed for the first 2 songs and then disappeared until the sunset. The crowd seemed to love them, and they really did make an amazing spectacle. Coldplay are known for their elaborate stage shows, often having yellow inflatable balls descending on the crowd (no bonus points if you guess which song this happens in), or huge confetti parties. Monday night’s show was no different.
The show kicked off with Hurts Like Heaven, and as far as puns go, it started with a bang, too – fireworks shot into the sky, immediately winning the crowd over. The fireworks seemed to match the wristbands in colour, and the wristbands started flashing as soon as the song began.
The band then launched into megahit (which is used to describe 90% of their catalogue) In My Place, and now we had confetti shooting out of cannons. For those who complain that rock bands just play in front of video screens and lack a proper show, you have not seen a Coldplay show. Singer Chris Martin sung the last few lines from his knees, leaning against
Guy Berryman UPDATE: Jonny Buckland (I have my Coldplay dolls misnamed) holding the mic up for him to sign the last word of the song, somewhat to his surprise.
Chris pandered to the audience for the first of many times, applying that charm and wit that he exudes in concerts. “Thanks for giving us your Jubilee Monday. This is our third show in London – the last 2 nights were rehearsal for tonight.” Cue the applause!
The upbeat Major Minus off of Mylo Xyloto was up next, followed by Lovers in Japan. The party at the crowd hit an early high, as large, inflatable balls with paint blotches on them made their way through the crowd. Confetti continued to be blasted into the crowd. Virtually no one was watching the stage – Chris Martin could’ve been naked and I’d be none the wiser.
Arguably Coldplay’s best song, and my personal favourite of theirs, The Scientist followed the confetti party. In my opinion, this was slightly bad sequencing, going from a party atmosphere to a slower song about a breakup. However, the crowd LOVES to sing the “nobody said it was easy” part, which might have been the loudest refrain sung the entire night. Martin changed the end of the song, trying to milk the crowd sign alongs, adding some “nobody said it was easy” call and response parts, which didn’t quite fit. After the song, Martin joked “I don’t care what Lady Gaga says, we have the best fans in the world.” Cue the applause!
The hit parade continued with Yellow, with Martin starting the song off on piano instead of guitar, and signing it in a slightly deeper voice. When launching into Violet Hill, Martin was laughing slightly, and the singing throughout the song wasn’t as strong as the studio version. Martin played to the crowd once again, asking if they could hear him in various parts of the stadium, earning cheers from everyone.
Another different arrangement started off God Put a Smile Upon Your Face. It was a slow, acoustic intro, with only Martin playing before the full band eventually joined. He also did some ad lib, saying “all the boys make some noise.” Somewhat surprisingly, Martin threw his guitar over the back of the stage when the song finished, but the slow motion replay on the screens indicated this was (of course) a calculated move. And for a minute, I thought Chris Martin grew some balls!
Up next was Princess of China featuring Rihanna. I honestly expected louder cheers – the crowd wasn’t huge into it. Martin sung a bit lower than on the album. You’re wondering if Rihanna made an appearance for her duet with Chris Martin on the song. If Martin thought the wristbands were expensive, having Rihanna in tow would be ludicrous – she appeared in pre-recorded video form.
Up in Flames followed, and was a slower song from Mylo Xyloto and seemed to lose the crowd. Warning Sign had a slowed introduction, with Chris on the piano, and the band only joining for the chorus.
Don’t Let It Break Your Heart was next, and to my surprise, the crowd loved it. It was upbeat, so that might have been part of the reason, but I was surprised that this non-catchy, average song from Mylo Xyloto had that much of a positive reaction. Moreso than new single (and a guilty pleasure of mine) Princess of China.
One thing about Coldplay is they always seem to be having a lot of fun doing what they are doing. Viva la Vida showed this, as Martin ran around the stage, hugging and bumping the band members, as they played. Some were surprised, but everyone smiled and kept on playing. I’ve read this critique before about the band, but attending a concert, you really notice that a lot of their songs have “oooohs” and “wooooaahhhhs”. Interestingly, the crowd seems to have adopted to “wooahh ooo ooo ooooooo” from Viva La Vida as some sort of unofficial Coldplay cheer, singing it before the encore to call the band back on stage, and even in the streets after the concert.
It was now an hour into the band’s set. The sky had finally darkened. Cue Charlie Brown, a song which has the line “we’ll run wild, we’ll be glowing in the dark.” This meant it was time for US to glow in the dark, and the Xylobands (which had been off since the second song) to come back on. And man, did it look beautiful. The lights also flashed at different speeds, or were temporarily on and not flashing. The bands had colours such as blue, green, yellow, and looked great across 50,000 waving and jumping people. Interesting that a band has to plan a set list based on the sunset. Check out the video below.
Coldplay – Charlie Brown (live at Emirates Stadium, June 4, 2012)
Someone must really like Paradise and the elephants in the video for it, as evidenced by the costume below. I also think Chris Martin might’ve started off the song by mumbling “that shit cray” but I’m not entirely sure. As he has done several times tonight, Martin sort of forced a crowd sing along, noting “We’ll sing one chorus together” after the song had basically wrapped up. This concluded the regular set.
The encore started with Martin appearing on a side stage at the back of the arena on the pitch. As he launched into Us Against the World, the other band members – drummer Will Champion, bass player Guy Berryman, and guitarist Jonny Buckland – all joined Martin one by one. At the end of the song, Martin introduced comedic actor, Simon Pegg. What?! Sure, the Diamond Jubilee concert might’ve had Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, but we got Simon Pegg – we win!
Simon played harmonica on the next song, Speed of Sound. As the band slyly made their way back to the main stage, Simon Pegg milked a harmonica solo. And with that, he was gone. He didn’t even plug his new movie, so I will – A Fantastic Fear of Everything is out on June 8. I expect my free tickets in the post, Simon!
Over-rated crowd favourite Clocks was next, with Martin singing a bit of Adele, slipping in the largely unnoticed lines of “we could’ve had it all, rolling in the deep”.
Those of you who weren’t miles away or could at least see 1 of the 5 circular video screens would’ve noticed that Will Champion had a pink breast cancer ribbon on his right shoulder. As Martin introduced Fix You, he noted that they are going to play this song for Sara Champion. Sara is Will’s mother who passed away from cancer in 2000, and the album Parachutes is dedicated to her. The big building crescendo of the emotional song brought out more colourful fireworks.
Martin noted that we would get “1 last song before we disappear from London for years and years.” That last song was Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall, which once again featured some call and response with the crowd. The crowd definitely enjoyed this last song.
One thing you’ve got to admire about the band is they sure stick with their album themes, from cover art right through to concert attire and backdrops. Viva La Vida was revolutionary themed and had Sgt. Pepper-esque costumes. This album is about graffiti and some neon colours, with Chris Martin even having some paint on his hand and a few dabs on his face when he performed.
The only thing missing from the 1 hour and 45 minute set was Politik. Not only is it a great song, but it is during this song that Martin is at his most clever and playful, often ad libbing comments about the city or venue or something else relevant. Other than that, Coldplay and their concert experience was very memorable, visually appealing, sensory overload, with plenty of sing along opportunities. Definitely one that will be remembered for ages.
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PHM Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Setlist for Coldplay @ Emirates Stadium, London, England – Monday, June 4, 2012
Mylo Xyloto (instrumental)
Hurts Like Heaven
In My Place
Lovers in Japan
God Put A Smile On Your Face
Princess of China
Up in Flames
A Hopeful Transmission (instrumental)
Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
Viva La Vida
Us Against the World
Speed of Sound
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall