Last week, the world-class soft-rockers Coldplay brought a nearly sold-out show to the final weeknight concert to be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
With a local ordinance setting a weeknight curfew at 10pm, many artists, such as Ed Sheeran, have cancelled or outright refused to schedule shows at the stadium, leaving officials to deem the Coldplay concert the end of the debate.
By the time they started, stopped, and restarted “Charlie Brown” from 2011’s Mylo Xyloto, it was 10:02pm. The band ended up performing ten more songs for a total of 22, stretching the performance nearly to 11pm in a blazing middle finger of abandon. The rulebreaking earned the 49ers a measly $750 fine, according to CBS.
For the first time that I recall, I found myself agreeing with frontman Chris Martin. I was a first time visitor to Levi’s Stadium, at my first Coldplay concert, accompanied by a good friend and former stadium employee to show me the ropes. There were moments when even he was at a loss. Parking was a mess – and heaven help you if you need to get to or from will call: you’ll have to walk around half the stadium and cross the street twice. I’m not usually one to get hung up on the atmosphere too much, but I wasn’t stoked on the initial flavor.
This was definitely the largest concert I have ever been to, and I found myself missing the intimate confines of clubs like The Independent or the Catalyst. Inside the stadium, the immediate vibe was more like the hustle and bustle of an airport. The constant fly-overs from San Jose International Airport may have played into that, too. But at least the sound inside of the concert while the band played was enough to drown out the planes’ roaring engines.
Between opening act Tove Lo and Coldplay’s set, there was also a strangely discordant minor-key piano motif that played over the speakers for nearly the entire hour it took to change over the stage. The audience started throwing a ‘wave’ around the stadium bowl that eventually gave way to an abrupt operatic song coming over the loudspeaker just before 9pm.
Martin, lead guitarist Johnny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion took the stage following the opera tune as a video package featuring children from each previous stop on this leg of Coldplay’s tour welcomed fans to the show.
Coldplay exploded into their set with several rounds of fireworks, “A Head Full of Dreams” and an arena full of confetti and glitter cannons that left a runway-bounding Martin looking like an EDM festival attendee by songs’ end.
Multi-colored LED bracelets that were handed out to fans as they scanned their tickets (as well as a free button that reads “Love”) lit up and flashed intermittently, making the crowd sparkle and really allowing the band to conduct the mood of each moment. They highlighted this effect during the second song of the set as Levi’s Stadium became a sea of “Yellow.”
Martin’s energy was infatuating, and I found myself genuinely enjoying every moment — when he pointed in a general direction, at least a hundred people took it personally. It was powerful to behold; I was willingly swept into the madness and surrendered to the flow early, eliminating that disconnected airport feeling from less than an hour earlier. In a moment of serendipity, Martin touched on the recent tragedies that have struck the music world.
“It’s a crazy mixed up world, so we’re going to play the best show of our lives,” he said. “It’s all we can do.”
For the rest of the show between verses, songs and any moment he could, Martin encouraged the audience to release and feel alive, and even displayed some humility during a half-fumbled-but-still-scoring-a-touchdown literal splitting of the crowd. The right side he led in a sharp “Woo! Woo!” while the left screamed.
At the end of the song “Paradise,” Martin and Buckland faced off in a short, sweet, and spicy guitar duel among the glitter and confetti cannons while a Tiesto remix of the song built up tension into the drop.
“Thank you for coming, through the price of parking, the price of tickets, the price of sitting so far away, the price of standing behind someone tall, thank you. You are wonderful people. I don’t know if you are confused about what’s going on, but I was. I asked a wise person how one is supposed to behave. You got to do to each other as you’d be done by, is what it boils down to,” Martin said. “Put faith in the goodness of people. I don’t want to get too hippie, but send the California loving to everyone that needs it — to Houston and to Florida and to Puerto Rico, to Mexico City, to all of the places — even the White House. To Tom Petty.”
The rest of the show included the usual hits, “Clocks,” “Hymn For The Weekend,” and a handful of acoustic numbers, “In My Place” and “Don’t Panic.” A take on “Something Just Like This,” their collaboration with the Chainsmokers, and the infamously inspired “Viva La Vida” were played as well.
Opening act Alina Baraz played a brief, six song set that included the new track “Buzzin’.” Main support came from Tove Lo, with highlights including her popular tune “Disco Tits” and a cover of Flume’s “Say It.”