Last Friday night, Coldplay, arguably the biggest rock band in the world right now, blew the doors off of the HP Pavilion in San Jose, and the confetti cannons were in full effect. In support of their most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, which also happened to be the number one selling rock album of 2011, Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion are about halfway done with their gigantic world tour, but they’re showing no signs of slowing down. As frontman, Martin so graciously thanked the audience, “I know it’s a pain to go to concerts these days with the traffic and price of admission, all we can do it to give you everything we have.”
And they certainly left it all on the stage…er, all three stages set around the HP Pavilion Arena, where the San Jose Sharks play. Martin and Co. were up front, in the middle, around the sides, and even acoustically in the very back for the encore. As the crowd roared and screamed incessantly, it was immediately clear that this is a band that truly cares for their fans and is genuinely appreciative for all that they have. In fact, pretty much the only times Chris Martin ever talked between songs was to thank the fans at length, and to reveal how blessed and honored they felt as a band.
There wasn’t much time for talking though. Through the 100-minute show, Coldplay soared through about twenty of some of their biggest hits, hidden album gems, and old favorites from 2000’s Parachutes up until today. No one can ever accuse them of not putting their all into the show, because this thing had the works, and I’ve never seen a more elaborate stage setup or a more spectacular light show.
The two opening bands, The Pierces (whose album Berryman produced) and fellow Brits, Metronomy, hadn’t done much to rev up the crowd in the two hours preceding, but once the lights started dimming for Coldplay, the tension building was ridiculous. Nimble set-techs climbed pirate ship rigging up to acrophobic heights to control the enormous halo of lights above the stage. Smoke machines puffed test billows, the lights went out, the Back to the Future theme started blasting, and the electronic bracelets we had been given at the door started making a brilliant neon firefly display all across the arena.
At this point the crowd went ludicrous, and the four guys from London took the stage, launching into the title track from their latest. Minutes later, the place erupted with lights, lasers, and a confetti cannon that relentlessly rained down cut-out butterflies, hearts, and stars, blanketing the audience in neon, while “Hurts Like Heaven” blasted with infectious energy.
Colorful spirals spun dizzily out of control all around as Colplay rocketed through tunes like “Charlie Brown” and crowd favorite, “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face,” and everyone in the crowd seemed to be smiling, dancing or screaming (including a few other reviewers near me, who had been practically stonefaced before the show). “Yellow” got a highlighter-colored light display, complete with synchronized lasers and strobes, more confetti cannons and colorful inflatable balls decorated the arena sky for “Lovers in Japan,” and Rihanna even made an appearance (in video form) on the huge circular projection screens around the building as a multi-armed goddess for “Princess of China.”
Martin whirled, undulated, and jumped around with the energy of a high school kid who’d had a few too many Red Bulls, but you couldn’t help but smile at how much fun he was having and how thankful he seems to have a job like his. His band rocked steadily on, playing their biggest hits flawlessly and creating an environment that cast them all as untouchable rock stars, but at the same time, as approachable as your buddies back home. That familiarity and respect for their fans paid off in huge ways for a show that has honestly been one of my favorite that I’ve ever seen.
To me, every really good concert has that one moment where it feels other-worldly: a time when the music, the light effects, the crowd, and the vibe just fall perfectly in place, and you almost forget where you are for a while. I can remember that one moment from all of my favorite shows, but this one actually had three of or four times when I couldn’t believe where I was, and got that feeling like all is right in the world. The crowd singing and echoing on “Paradise” was incredibly powerful with everyone in unison, joined together across so many different ages, genders, races, and class backgrounds. That epic chorus on “Viva La Vida” where the “Jerusalem bells” are ringing, Will Champion is pounding mightily on the enormous kettle drums, and Chris Martin is so wrapped up in it, that he is jumping and dancing uncontrollably, and of course the climax of their sweeping anthem, “Fix You” all filled the arena with sound and magic.
After one of the longest sustained encore cheers I’ve heard in a long time, those neon bracelets were blinking again, and the guys settled it down to play one of my new favorite tracks off Mylo Xyloto, “Us Against the World.” Each band member was highlighted and cheered for, then they dashed to the front of the stage to finish off “Clocks” and a frantically energetic capstone, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” So much positive energy was left in the building after the erupting cheers and band’s thank you’s, and even walking to the cars, I kept hearing the words “Amazing,” “Incredible,” and “Best show I’ve ever seen” from the smiling fans’ faces all around me.
The Mylo Xyloto Tour continues on to L.A. next week, goes to Europe soon after, and then back to North America toward the middle of June.