In a growing demographic where fans like their music like a fine wine, bitter and aged 20 years, Coldplay stays true to a an original flavor of music; peace, love, and colour. In support of their seventh studio album, A Head Full of Dreams, Coldplay offered both a visual and performance art display to the sold-out crowd at the First Niagara Center this past Monday.
Opening the evening with the Album’s title track, the band didn’t waste time getting the crowd into the show with their energetic entrance accompanied by the glowing Xylobands on the wrist of each concertgoer. The wristbands contain multi-colored LED lights that are controlled and synchronized to the music through radio frequencies. Coincidentally, the arena appeared to be an upside down observatory, each fan a star within the arena’s sky. In addition to the Xylobands, the show included a cosmic array of lasers and confetti, creating a visual melody for the fans, and a mere horror for the cleaning crew.
Cavorting the catwalk-like stage, Martin proved to be a passionate and somewhat overly happy front-man. Being in an industry where performers are constantly criticized for falling off the stage didn’t stop Martin from jumping, spinning, and dancing over a stage concealed with confetti. His shock and appreciation for the tremendous turnout of Buffalo fans on a Monday night sent him sky high, he must not have ever attended a Bills game. Prior to the show, he even went as far to thank the photographers who passed him backstage for being there to take part.
Following the opening number, the band dove right into their first single from their 1999 debut album, Parachutes, titled “Yellow.” With the first strum of the notable chords and the burst of yellow lighting, the crowd erupted. It brought the crowd back to their music video for the track that features Martin in a continuous, slow motion clip walking alone on an empty beach; the live performance portrayed mostly the same. Guitarist, Jonny Buckland, without expression at house left, bassist Guy Berryman swaying in a single spot at house right, and drummer Will Champion fixated on each drumhead. All while Martin captivated the attention of each fan in the audience.
Whereas most bands would continue to feed from the energy of the fans, Coldplay did the opposite and slowed things down, playing “The Scientist,” from the follow-up to their debut album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. A ballad this early in the set would normally cause fans to rush to the restroom, or grab a new beer, but all the fans remained enchanted, standing, and singing along to the ballad of a man eager for love.
As the show progressed, Coldplay played a third of set comprised of their most recent album. Reaching number 1 on the UK charts, and only topped in the United States by Adele’s 25. With this faster paced, Electronic Dance Music style album, I would assume Coldplay is trying reaching out to a different musical demographic, while offering a new catalogue of tunes for their current fans, providing more energy, lights, sound, and colour.
Surprising to most fans, they played a 4-song acoustic set on a small stage in the 100-level a few rows up from the blue line. As they walked to the stage in the dark, the voice of President Obama singing “Amazing Grace” was played over the speakers. Thanking the crowd, Martin introduced each band member and gave a short bio of the band’s formation. “We all met seventeen years ago on Americas Top Model. When none of us made the final round, we said ‘F*ck this, let’s start a band.’”
Continuing the theme and urgent need for peace, love, and unity in the US, Coldplay honored the late Muhammad Ali with a clip of the boxer professing his views on peace. Ali spoke:
“He wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other. So I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people…..we need somebody in the world to help us all make peace. So when I die, if there’s a heaven, I want to see it.”
In a world marred by political differences, hate, and violence, Coldplay gave a visual and musical message of the need for unity. Like music, the world is ever changing. But like Martin sings in “The Scientist, “Nobody said it was easy.”
Article & Photos by A Ellis Cairns