Live Review Coldplay, Royal Albert Hall, London 1st July 2014

Coldplay, Royal Albert Hall, London

The sheer volume of older material is a welcome surprise in what quickly develops into a career-spanning set.

Chances to see stadium-filling bands in such comparatively intimate venues are few and far between, a privilege not lost on the dedicated fans who are here to witness Coldplay this evening. With a purpose built round stage located in the middle of the stalls and no barriers between audience and band, the sense of communion is all the more intense. Despite its electric guitar solo and the crowd being on its feet from the outset, opener ‘Always In My Head’ feels more apologetic welcome than statement of intent. After a quick palm salute to the crowd it’s straight into ‘Charlie Brown’, reinvented with an electronic half rock half and ‘Paradise’ which sees the frontman take to the piano for the first time tonight.  Turning lights up at the “oh oh oh oh” parts is a tried and tested trick but an undeniably effective one.

‘Magic’ is deceptively simple, a minimalist risk in such a setting but here it shines, fired by pitch perfect falsetto vocals and given an acoustic twist with some additional guitar. “You’ve got nothing if you haven’t got home” declares Chris Martin before launching into ‘Clocks’ and ‘The Scientist’, the latter embellished with a line from Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’. The sheer volume of older material is a welcome surprise in what quickly develops into a career-spanning set. ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’ starts fairly sedately with almost mumbled vocals before lurching into an unforeseen hard rock direction, drummer Will Champion bashing the drums into utter submission and Martin cavorting around the stage like a kid after too many sweets.

After such heart pumping shenanigans it’s time for a few slower numbers, kicking off with the song they had intended as a duet with Johnny Cash, ‘Till Kingdom Come’. It’s often overlooked how versatile Coldplay are with Champion taking piano duties here. There are some glorious vocal ad-libs which really add to what is already a stunning song, greeted with reverent hush. There are screams from the very first chords of ‘Don’t Panic’, stopped mid-song whilst the frontman explains  how Jonny Buckland is possibly “the shyest man in the world” and congratulating him for singing lead vocals on part of the song, something he felt was unlikely to happen again. We’re also treated to ‘Everything’s Not Lost’, replete with raspy vocals and a smoky jazz bar vibe before taking it to church on the refrain.

‘Viva La Vida’ sees Martin and Champion move to a smaller stage, the latter banging a giant drum and the occasional church bell whilst the former is so out of breadth from Dad dancing that he struggles to get back to the main stage. He spends the start of ‘Midnight’ lying on the floor as coloured laser beams are played like instruments and chess type pieces are moved around a table to create an experimental electronic soundscape. A triumphant ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ ends proceedings, with barely a soul in the room standing still by this point.

After a short break and with lights off and white stars glimmering it’s rapturous applause which soundtracks the band’s return to the stage. The start of ‘Oceans’ harks back to their early material, led by acoustic guitar before the other instruments join in and hospital machine bleeps blend in seamlessly. ‘Sky Full Of Stars’ is pure euphoria with grown men pogoing as confetti cannons spray out star shapes, Chris venturing into the crowd before finishing the song at his piano where he would stay for the still tearjerking ‘Fix You’.

For a band who people seem to either love or hate in equal measure Coldplay’s confidence is incredibly unshakeable. They put on a great show and tonight more than deliver. 

Photo: Fizzr

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