There is nothing subtle about Coldplay. Every move is exaggerated. From frontman Chris Martin’s strut and “someone take a picture while I’m in mid-air” jumps, to Will Champion’s animistic assault on his drum set, to the confetti cannons that dropped a small forest on the HP Pavilion crowd Friday night, it was clear Coldplay wanted to give their fans the most extravagant show possible.
And for a majority of the show, it worked wonderfully. When a few over-the-top moments distracted from the band’s performance, it didn’t.
Coldplay long ago stopped listening to critics who accused them of making over-the-top, grandiose pop. What they care about most is pleasing their fans; making them “ooh and aah” as often as possible. That’s why their Joel Schumaker-inspired stage was slathered in enough neon graffiti and lasers to make ‘90s Batman, the one with the nipple-suit, blush.
See-through hoops that would later light up with neon colors were scattered on the stage, and a large circular video screen was suspended from the rafters in the middle. A catwalk reached halfway from the stage down the floor and ended at an X-shaped platform; for Mylo Xyloto, the new album the band is touring for. Following along? There’s more.
All concertgoers were handed a radio transponder wristband, called a “Xyloband,” that not only lit up on the band’s production crew’s command, but flashed in-sync with the songs being performed. This was by far the best production element of the show and lit up the building like a sparkling Christmas Tree.
Taking the stage to the Back to the Future theme, Coldplay launched in to two new songs, “Mylo Xyloto” and “Hurts Like Heaven.”
And the confetti cannons begin going off. And going off and going off. The confetti was cut in the shape of band branded “M” “X,” butterflies, hearts and other cutesy symbols. As much of it as was pummeled on the fans on the floor, it wasn’t used as well as the Flaming Lips tend to do at the start of their shows, or Mika, who filled the Warfield with flying strips of paper a few years ago.
There was so much of the stuff centered over the stage that it became difficult to make out the band.
A couple songs later, during “Lovers in Japan,” large confetti-filled balloons were tossed from above. At this point, it became a distraction from a really good song. Most of the songs, in fact, were performed very well.
I may quibble about the set list lacking personal favorites like “Moses” or “Politik,” the band’s performance was nearly spot-on. It was, however, very easy to get distracted from it on several occasions. When the band abruptly switched gears to the melancholy “The Scientist,” for example, confetti was still raining down from the previous song.
Two songs got the mellow-intro treatment. On “Yellow” it worked great, with Chris Martin performing the first verse alone on piano and the audience singing along. On “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face,” it didn’t. While the band played in one key, Martin sang in another. The song then went full-throttle rick ‘n’ roll with Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland squaring off on the catwalk.
Following a trio of crowd favorites, “Viva La Vida,” “Charlie Brown” and “Paradise,” to round out the main set, Coldplay took to a small platform hidden amongst the seats in the middle level at the back of the arena – just as they did their last time through San Jose a few years ago – to perform “Us Against the World” while surrounded by fans thrilled to have the band so close to them.
The British quartet did not let up for any part of the show, putting all its efforts in to every song; be it the slow burner “Fix You,” off 2005’s X&Y, or 2011 single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” Once again, they gave the audience what it wanted.