SINGAPORE: I’ve been told I might not be the right person to review a Coldplay concert. Apparently something about me blasting the Viva La Vida album on loop 164 times out loud in the office and proclaiming undying love for bassist Guy Berryman just before going to see them live at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in 2009 indicated that I would return with an extremely biased concert review dripping with superfluous adjectives about the band’s undeniable stage presence and lyrical perfection.
Well, indeed I did just that, proclaiming that it was a concert “worth every single superlative and every single cent”.
Eight years on, I’m happy to announce that not much has changed (aside from that “conscious uncoupling” from a certain Hollywood wife and the entry of three more studio more albums - Mylo Xyloto, Ghost Stories and A Head Full Of Dreams).
The definitive Coldplay stadium concert experience, this time at the National Stadium at Singapore Sports Hub, is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion - highly choreographed and impeccably rehearsed, but worth every long queue, every gush, every superlative and every cent.
(Photo: Nicole Chang)
For the first of their two sold-out shows here in Singapore (Mar 31), it was obvious that the band came prepared to colour their Singapore fans happy right from the get-go as they exploded on stage with A Head Full of Dreams, the titular tune from their latest album. They aim to crowd-please and it's contagious.
It was Coldplay and their technicolour dreamcoat as they took the audience on a colourful musical ride via a cacophony of lasers, bursts of confetti, shooting flames and huge rainbow-coloured floating balls. They also cleverly gave each and every audience member plastic LED wristbands which at various times throughout the concert, light up and glow in a dazzling synchronised array, all remotely controlled by their own computers to go hand-in-hand with the hits. Not only did it make for many an Instagram-worthy moment, it was helpful connecting and uniting a massive stadium, especially in moments of lull.
Not that there were many. Perhaps only when the band had to manoeuvre between their three stages. Stadium shows can feel overwhelming but having a main stage, a middle, long catwalk ramp and a surprise pop-up third stage (which the band seem to always have predilections for) truly gives the Brit foursome a chance to get up-close and personal with their fans.
Now seven albums in, Coldplay has a fully loaded armoury of stadium sing-along anthems and radio-friendly hits to choose from. But the veteran quartet know exactly what their sold-out 53,000-strong audience come to hear them live for, and thus tirelessly deliver both the old and new chestnuts - from Clocks, The Scientist, Charlie Brown and Birds to Everglow, Hymn for the Weekend and Adventures of a Lifetime.
It’s hard to be connected with your fans in an intimate manner when you’re playing a stadium, but Coldplay always manages to pull it off, and especially when it counts. With a folder of crowd-favourite anthems like Yellow, Fix You, Paradise (complete with a dancey Tiesto remix outro) and the insanely catchy Viva La Vida to charm with, it's no wonder you'll soon have an entire stadium singing in unison, jumping up and down on cue and eating out of the palm of your frontman's hands.
Prancing about the stage with a rainbow flag pinned to his jeans and his signature drunken schoolboy trance-like dancing, Chris Martin was at his entertainer best, saying and doing all the right things, much to the joy of the local crowd who screamed, squealed and lapped up lines like: “We've flown a long way to get here and it's worth every second of it. If every audience in the world is this great, we’d fly to the moon just to be with you,” and “Let’s send some good Asian vibes and show some Singapore love.”
(Photo: Nicole Chang)
Between bending down to kiss the stage at the very end after final bows or holding the Singapore flag aloft in the beginning, Martin, ever the showman, conducted the crowd like a maestro. He left no stone unturned by giving a shoutout to practically the entire Southeast Asia, knowing full well many have travelled from Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia just to see the band in Singapore.
Indeed, there's always a brief creeping sensation that these seemingly spontaneous tricks are nothing but just neatly executed, manipulative crowd-pleasers when watching a seasoned band in action. Even some lines like "you're the best audience ever" – which you know is uttered at almost every tour stop – might seemed a tad insincere at times. But Martin’s unrelenting energy, piano and vocal prowess, thrown together with the rest of the band’s quiet earnestness, eventually washes away any doubt of their genuineness.
And even though Coldplay’s perfectly planned spectacles vary only ever so slightly night to night, you still manage to end up feeling like you’ve been part of something unique and special. Like when you're witnessing the tour debut of Something Just Like This, their pop-py collab with The Chainsmokers.
And therein lies the rub. By the time Coldplay nears the end of their rollicking show by playing fan request Till Kingdom Come (where they candidly admitted to a little flub) and then hurtling towards the finish line with the dreamy A Sky Full Of Stars and erm, uplifting Up and Up, you realise you’ve taken the bait. Hook, line and sinker.
Coldplay was determined to take every fan of theirs to a happy safe place with this ultra-colourful A Head Full Of Dreams tour filled with euphoric glee. And you’ve willingly gone there right with them.
(Photo: Diane Leow)