Coldplay pulls out all its spectacular gimmicks for first of two Vancouver concerts
At Rogers Arena on Friday, April 20
If Coldplay proved anything with its Rogers Arena concert on Friday, it’s that it knows what it's doing. If you're going to play a concert in a stadium, this is how you do it: make the audience go absolutely apeshit right off the bat, and keep it on your side for the next 90 minutes. And if the band sometimes resorted to gimmicks to achieve that at the first of its two Vancouver shows, so be it. They were, after all, pretty spectacular gimmicks.
When the English quartet made its entrance, it did so to the flashing of thousands of multicoloured wristbands, timed to light up right as the band launched into "Mylo Xyloto". Then came the confetti cannons, which dumped a veritable blizzard of paper shapes—hearts, crowns, teardrops—onto the audience. And then down came the balloons, which descended from the rafters and were then batted about the room by a sea of eager hands. One headed straight for me. I swung my fist at it, and when I connected, the balloon burst open and showered me with still more of those pink, yellow, and green paper shapes.
And that was all within the first 10 minutes. Anyone not solidly in Coldplay's corner by that point was probably a cynical old fuck. Hell, I'm a cynical old fuck and even I thought it was pretty okay.
Did all the Day-Glo confetti, blinking "Xylobands", and rainbow-hued lasers distract from the music? Sure, but in that department frontman Chris Martin promised to deliver "119 percent". Despite the mathematical implausibility of that claim, the band did give its fans a lot. At least 104 percent.
Coldplay's influences aren't hard to pinpoint, but Martin and his cohorts (guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion) have avoided the excesses that have plagued its antecedents. Coldplay has never alienated large portions of its listenership by diving down the rabbit hole of experimental inclinations. (And yes, that is a dig at Radiohead.) Nor has Martin, despite fully embodying the persona of outsize rock frontman, become infuriatingly self-important. (And you know perfectly well who I'm talking about there.)
All of which may position Coldplay in the middle of the road, but there are worse places to be. Leaving aside the bells and whistles—to say nothing of the lasers and confetti cannons and video-assisted duets with Rihanna—a Coldplay concert is an event because Martin knows how to connect with an audience. Yes, he skipped up and down the catwalk clapping his hands like a ponce on Friday night, but even that was endearing, in a dorky kind of way.
Also, Coldplay can rock the fuck out when it wants to. Well, okay—no, it can't. But it came close with "Yellow". And with "Viva La Vida", it showed that it can do anthemic on a scale grand enough to get a whole arena singing along. Everyone, with the possible exception of one cynical old fuck, that is, and even he was tempted, for a second.