I must preface my review with this: I’ve been a loyal fan of Coldplay for years, and my expectations were exceedingly high before walking into the Verizon center this past Monday. I’m happy to report that anybody – the unfamiliar listener, the casual fan, the diehard – will not be disappointed.
Opening for Coldplay was the UK’s Wolf Gang and Sweden native, Robyn. Anyone who arrived early enough to see the first band would conclude that Wolf Gang is a “mini Coldplay” with several sweet anthems and a punch of rock. Promoting their year-old debut album, Suego Faults, Wolf Gang has toured with other indie rock bands, including Florence and the Machine and Metric. Lead singer Max Elligott led the group with his charmingly falsetto pipes. They gave an exceptional performance, and it was a shame that only a half-full arena could appreciate it. The sky’s the limit for this blooming band, and touring with Coldplay may certainly put this humble group up there.
Best Numbers: “Lions in Cages,” “The King and All of His Men,” and “Dancing with the Devil.”
I was nervous about Robyn. Sticking to the genre of techno-pop, Robyn provided a drastically different element to a predominately British alternative rock show. She began her performance with a bizarrely robotic opener, standing immobile while repeating, “we dance to the beat” in a monotone. Awkwardly, no one was dancing. For the remainder of the show she switched egos, implementing constant motion into her routines (watch the music video below, and you’ll see what I mean). The audience definitely preferred this sparky version of Robyn and even began to “dance to the beat.” She ended with two of her most popular songs, “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own” that both had a made-for-radio pop song vibe. These two songs were well received, easily the highlight of her performance, and earned her a loud applause by the end.
After what felt like an eternity of opening acts and stage setup, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” roared through the arena, rousing the younger crowd into a chorus of “I’ve got 99 problems, but a…” well, you know how it goes. Finally, the lights dimmed, the silhouettes of the four bandsmen appeared on stage, the wristbands we were given upon entry began to light up, and the sweet sound of “Mylo Xyloto” washed the hip-hop out of our ears.
The ambiance of the show was a recipe for success: fusions of color, swirling lights, blasts of confetti, plus thousands of adoring fans. Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin definitely ate his Wheaties that morning as he leaped, ran, spun, slid across stage, and even launched a guitar in the air after “God Put a Smile on Your Face.” The amount of energy from these guys was incredible, and even better – you could tell they were having a blast.
The majority of the concert’s songs hailed from the band’s new album, Mylo Xyloto, released in October 2011. They played recent hits like “Paradise” and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” that helped launch this album to selling over 6 million copies worldwide. But the band also pleased their veteran fans with some of their classic hits. A nice surprise, Coldplay performed “Yellow” their first ever hit from their premier album, Parachutes (2000). The band also featured a small sample from their other albums, such as “Fix You,” “The Scientist,” “Clocks,” and “Viva La Vida.” For those of us who have followed this group since their beginnings, this concert gave us perfect Coldplay showcase. One fan in attendance commented, “Don’t give me wrong, I love this new energetic, upbeat Coldplay that we now hear [in Mylo Xyloto]. Like I love “Charlie Brown” and “Paradise” and “Every Teardrop” and all that, but probably the best stuff for me are their classic, mellow hits like “Warning Sign” and “Fix You.” Those are just awesome, and I’m so glad they’re still performing them. Definitely a pleasant surprise.”
Speaking of “Warning Sign,” I must mention the Chris Martin flub that happened during this song at the July 9th show. In the middle of the song, leading up to the chorus, Martin stopped the band in its tracks, apologizing over playing the wrong chord. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but I completely f*ed that up,” he apologized as laughter and applause roared in the arena. “I was thinking about the next song, and I wasn’t thinking about this song, which means I completely f*ed it up. Now it’s going to be all over Youtube. Youtube is really there to show how sh’t we are at playing music.” Then the song resumed, devoid of further interruptions.
While some may call this instance a mistake and even unprofessional, I found it to be a highlight of the show. It was the very event that displayed the humility and perfectionism of the band’s leading man, and brought a sense of humanity to the group. Because even one of the best selling bands in the world can make a mistake and yet manage to walk away with equally fervent praise. Excellent job, guys.