Coldplay uses bizarre tech at Bay Area concert

No one has ever called Levi’s Stadium “Frisco Bay’s Santa Clara!” But Chris Martin said it so enthusiastically last night that he kind of got away with it.

Coldplay sold out 3.2 million tickets for their big Music of the Spheres concert on Sunday. The event marked the first concert at the 68,000-capacity venue since the pandemic began.

Wearing his signature neon stretch pants and T-shirt, Martin hopped around the stage like a very excited toddler. One second gave his bandmates to soothe his brother’s shoulder, the next dashed down the runway into the crowd and punched in the air, and then came back for a contemplative piano time while always thanking the crowd.

“We’ve been here for 22 years because the Bay Area is so amazing, it’s a bowl of love,” Martin said with a laugh. “We’re just a bunch of friends like you, but with more fireworks.”

The first time I saw Coldplay was in Glastonbury in 2000, where they played at 3pm, lower billing Better than David Gray, Elastica and 50 long gone British pop bands you’ve never heard of. This may indicate two things – first, I’m getting old; second, I’m getting old. Second, Coldplay has come a long way. Before playing the then-unreleased song “Yellow,” Martin said, “Hopefully you’ll sing along next year because it’s going to be a hit.”

By most metrics, Coldplay was the biggest band of the 21st century, having since sold 100 million albums.

The tour’s roster ended with an astounding six sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium, including delightful high-energy hits – “In My Place”, “Heaven”, “Clock” ‘ and ‘My Universe’ are out and about. For the latter, BTS comes in digital form.

At any other ’90s British rock band show these days, the crowd usually consists of about 100 IPA-sipping bearded men in a beer-sipping small city club reminiscing about the old days, but Coldplay Unlike other Britpop survivors. The crowd at Levi’s, seemingly divided between young pop fans and Chardonnay-sipping tech bosses, was interested in every word Martin sang. There are so many hits to reference, but the big one for me is that “The Scientist” goes right into “Viva la Vida” — two of the best pop rock songs anyone has written in the last two decades.

Coldplay, Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, May 15, 2022.

Coldplay, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, May 15, 2022.

Courtesy San Francisco 49ers

Interestingly enough, for a planetary-themed show called Music of the Spheres, with celestial bodies adorning the stage and huge screen, Martin doesn’t seem to notice the actual lunar eclipse happening behind him. He may be too focused on his timed jumps.Martin made a lot of timed jumps on stage (though none like Billie Eilish’s iconic jump). Sometimes his jumps set off fireworks, other times huge balloons, and sometimes they remotely control the crowd’s LED wristbands, forming a giant red heart that sweeps across the stadium. Everyone’s little lights turned yellow because, um, “yellow”, it felt a little pungent, but as Martin had hoped 22 years ago, everyone sang along.

In addition to the sphere, the tour also has a sustainability theme, with the band claiming that every show is powered by renewable energy. To do this, fans were asked to get on e-bikes and dance on a large trampoline — otherwise known as a “dynamic dance floor” — to power the light show between sets. Having fans who have already paid about $100 for tickets also really power the event feels a bit daring, but the trampoline looks like a lot of fun.

Before Coldplay, Vallejo’s own HER opened the program and looked at the huge venue at home. “I never thought I’d open for Coldplay,” she said in surprise, before asking tentatively if anyone in the crowd really wanted to meet her. Thankfully, the crowd responded with a hearteningly positive response.

“It’s basically my hometown,” she cheered, “OK, my area, the Bay Area,” before ending her tense arrangement of a labyrinthine, brilliant version of “We Made It.”

She may have a Grammy trophy on the mantel, but the crowd was apparently there to see the Coldplay Machine, a multibillion-dollar plastic neon ecstasy monster that now exists in a galaxy far from England’s muddy fields. Though it might be a stretch to say they used to be cool — even in the ’90s, Oasis managers famously called them “bed wetter music“—they were excited. They sampled Kraftwerk, they covered The Buzzcocks, they even experimented with Brian Eno. They had a real natural born songwriter ( Martin records the first footage of The Scientist The day after he wrote the song was very special. ) They’re a band that deftly took the mainstream world away from the tired Brit and rock ‘n’ roll, while avoiding the hellish vision of new metal. A lot of that excitement has evaporated at the big pop events right now, but it’s certainly hard to hate them for it.

Coldplay, Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, May 15, 2022.

Coldplay, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, May 15, 2022.

Courtesy San Francisco 49ers

It’s also true when Coldplay in the age of plastic pop does try to make something truly unique and acclaimed – see Hypnotic Spider 2019″Arabesque“—no one listened. Except, It’s okay to sell out nowI’m trying to remember that when the 50-foot-tall screen instructs me to scan the QR code on my wrist to buy something.

As cynical as I am, the Coldplay show was a joyous, bright, cathartic post-pandemic victory. The euphoric peak of “Fix You’s” — “When you lose something irreplaceable, tears streaming down your face” — may be the most manipulative tearjerker moment ever, but as Levi’s thousands of It still works, as the crying fans attest.

The most poignant and quietest song played by the band on Sunday was introduced with great embarrassment by Martin. “Give Ukraine, your grandmother, or Buffalo some love,” he finally decided to dedicate the “spark” to the mass shooting in Buffalo. That song was the fourth track from their stellar debut album “Parachutes,” and it was as beautiful as any song they’d ever written…and simply not fit for a giant stadium.

In the meantime, Martin looked a little frustrated, staring down at his feet for the first time instead of smiling at the crowd with 100 kilowatts of renewable power. Maybe he’s thinking about the next timed jump he has to make, or how to make a billion BTS fans happy while also pleasing cynical old fans like me who remember Glastonbury, calling him a blockbuster, but loving him no matter what. nobody said it was easy.

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