Coldplay has been consistently selling out stadiums worldwide for two decades, and for good reason. Their live shows are more than a concert: they are unique, colourful, active participation events. The audience does not just experience the show, but they become an essential part of it.
Opening acts comprised of hip-hop artist Bobby Gonz, pop-rapper 070 Shake, and R&B singer H.E.R.. H.E.R.’s set was especially fun, featuring a full band. The artist played multiple guitars and even the drums while singing, and performed multiple rock covers. A mashup of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” and “We Will Rock You,” followed by Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way” to close the set really warmed up the energy for the main event.
Of particular note for this tour was the efforts Coldplay took in social responsibility and sustainability. Videos detailed how the tour dollars went to support global environmental initiatives, and how much of the show was powered by renewable energy. The set was opened by members of local First Nations, who gave a speech welcoming everyone to their shared lands. The young people and elders on stage gave gratitude to Coldplay for being the first group to create this space for Indigenous peoples of the area.
Each audience member was given a biodegradable LED bracelet that lit up in different colours. Throughout the show, a sea of lights soared across the stadium. This created a really neat, gorgeous visual effect. Thousands of pinpoints blinking in tune and hue. It’s really unlike anything I’ve seen at a concert, particularly with the number of people involved and the amount of detail put into the synchronization. There were lasers and balloons as well, as if BC Place had become a giant rave party.
The majority of Coldplay tracks are upbeat, dance-worthy tunes. But even the mellow piano-focused tracks (“The Scientist” and “In My Place”) were accompanied by a sing-a-long of thousands, creating a unique, warm energy in the vast room. In fact, every single track – no exaggeration – featured people singing along. I’ve never experienced a show quite like that.
No doubt, part of Coldplay’s longtime appeal is their direct, personal connection with the fans. It’s obvious these guys are so grateful to be on stage and appealing to so many two decades later. Chris Martin profusely thanked everyone for their work in making the show happen, from stage crew to bus drivers. He gave gratitude to the audience for enduring the high prices of tickets to parking to beer – and for giving the band their Friday night.
Chris scanned the pit for signs and flags, trying to shout out as many as he could. “You came from Australia, you came from India… Wow! Happy birthday! Happy anniversary!” As with every show, they brought someone from the audience up on stage – in this case, a young married couple. They joined Chris by doing backup vocals for “In My Place,” the lady going so far as to have written the chords on her arm to help. It was a sweet, endearing way to bridge the gap between artist and audience.
Perhaps “Yellow” was the biggest shine of the night. The whole venue lit up with tens of thousands of bright yellow points as the band performed their most popular song. The loudest, most intense singing, dancing, and rocking occurred at this time. It was physically impossible not to smile and feel the joy in the room. Any energy that hadn’t been captured yet was released at this midway point.
The visuals got extra strange towards the end of the set. The band wore alien head masks and LED motorcycle helmets for “My Universe” – part of the concept for their whole Music of the Spheres album. The last song of the main set was “A Sky Full of Stars.” We were politely asked to put “our hands in the air and our phones in our pockets” for this one, leading to a phone-free, shared moment of 50,000 people, shining lights, and a chanted chorus across the stadium. It really did resemble a sky full of stars.
The encore did not let up with the energy and visuals. Large balloons resembling planets floated around the pit, as if the floor was a solar system. This echoed the theme concept for Music of the Spheres. At this point, the band brought out a surprise guest: Vancouver music icon Bryan Adams. Apparently this was a last-minute decision made by everyone backstage. They all performed “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” primarily sung by Bryan and backup vocals joined by H.E.R.. It was a big hit with the crowd.
Even the grand finale was an impactful image. For one of their latest singles “Biutyful,” Chris was joined on stage by a female alien puppet known as Angel Moon, part of the album concept. It was rather odd – particularly if one doesn’t know the context – but also “biutyful” in an alien way.
I was a little disappointed to not hear more of their earlier work, especially with only one track played from Viva la Vida. But with nine albums and dozens of singles, there’s always going to be some shuffle. There’s truly nothing like a Coldplay tour: whether a longtime or new fan, casual or devout, few artists bring people together and create memories like these men. Their style may have evolved, but this tour has proven the show is only getting bigger and better. I already can’t wait to see them again.