Vivid rock carnival of everyman

Coldplay, led by frontman Chris Martin, filled their setlist with hits, giving their fans a chance to sing along with gusto.
Coldplay, led by frontman Chris Martin, filled their setlist with hits, giving their fans a chance to sing along with gusto.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It was a dream come true for Coldplay fans as the rock stars engaged them with hit after hit in a kaleidoscopic arena of lights



National Stadium/Last Friday

British outfit Coldplay are one of those bands that can put on blockbuster shows with all the bells and whistles of an arena concert while still retaining an everyman appeal.

The first of their two-night engagement at the National Stadium last Friday was visually spectacular, with a celebratory atmosphere rivalling that of a National Day Parade show.

The venue turned into a kaleidoscopic forest of lights throughout most of the two-hour show. Occasional confetti showers, pyrotechnics and release of multi-coloured balloons into the audience enhanced its carnival feel.

Making it even more NDP-like, each member of the 50,000-strong audience was given an LED wristband that lit up in time to the music, making everyone a part of the spectacle and not just mere spectators.

By filling the setlist with hits, ranging from early songs such as Yellow (2000) to Hymn For The Weekend from their latest album A Head Full of Dreams (2015) to new single Something Just Like This (2017), the band also gave their fans a chance to sing along with gusto.

If anyone wanted proof that Coldplay tunes are middle-of-the-road, strive for positivity and inclusivity, are never offensive and have extremely broad appeal, he needed only to look at the crowd. It was a wide demographic. There were many parents with their teenage children and an even mix of men and women, locals and expatriates.

Coldplay's songs are not for fans who prefer their bands edgy or insufferably cool, certainly not with frontman Chris Martin's frequently goofy dances, unbridled enthusiasm and wide-eyed sense of wonder.

Songs such as Fix You (2005) offer encouragement in the face of trouble, Yellow is a paean to love and devotion - these are the types of tunes that many can easily relate to.

The band did not even start the concert fashionably late like many other rock stars have done here - they came on exactly on time at 8pm, after Australian singer-songwriter Jess Kent warmed up the audience with a brief opening set that began at 7pm.

The concert, the band's fourth time playing in Singapore, was their largest here to date.

With another 50,000 at the second show last Saturday, the Grammy- and Brit Award-winning band's performances here are some of the biggest rock shows by a single act held here.

To get closer to fans who were located farther from the main stage, Coldplay performed several songs at two smaller stages - a circular one at the end of the long runway and another situated at the opposite end of the main stage.

An extremely sprightly Martin ran tirelessly up and down the long runway when he was not sitting at the piano or strumming on an acoustic guitar.

The other members of the band - guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion - supported him with solid musicianship.

While previous large-scale concerts held at the same venue had fans complaining about muddy sound, Coldplay's audio mix was pretty decent, if not quite the quality of Esplanade Concert Hall.

The only time the sound was sub- par was during opening song A Head Full Of Dreams (2015), when one could barely make out what Martin was singing due to the muffled mix, but this was quickly rectified by the second song, Yellow.

Like in their other stops in the tours, the band performed a rarely played song chosen by a local fan, in this case, Til Kingdom Come, a hidden track in 2005 album X&Y.

"No YouTube, let's maintain the illusion of professionalism," Martin said self-deprecatingly after the band botched up the middle part of the song and had to start again.

It was an almost perfect illustration of how Coldplay are rock stars who are also everyman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Vivid rock carnival of everyman'. Print Edition | Subscribe