Coldplay @ Wells Fargo Arena 7.6.12

by Erica Moser (Journalism), published July 19th 2012

photos by Jeremy M Farmer

Music history has shown that people often don’t agree, and Coldplay’s polarized reception is no exception. The band has its avid fans and equally zealous haters. Some find the lyrics relatable; others condemn their simplicity. Coldplay’s fifth and most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, has both alienated old fans and attracted new ones. Regardless, they have achieved a difficult feat: bridging the mainstream and indie-loving worlds while garnering generally positive reviews. Moreover, they put on a wildly energetic live show.

The concert openers were British alt-rock band Wolf Gang and Swedish songstress Robyn. The latter performed Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” to a seemingly confused and displeased audience. Before Coldplay came on, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” began blasting. (Coldplay might have 99 problems, but selling out a Philadelphia arena two nights in a row ain’t one.

Circular screens overhead instructed audience members to put on their wristbands, which were handed out at the doors. As Coldplay started “Hurts Like Heaven,” the wristbands lit up, creating a Christmas-like effect of green, blue, yellow, red and pink dots throughout the stadium. They followed with “In My Place” – and an explosion of confetti.

“Last night we did a fantastic dress rehearsal for what’s going to be tonight,” frontman Chris Martin said afterward. Two songs later, there were splatter-painted beach balls flying through the crowd. It was like being at Blue Man Group, except instead of everything being blue, it was all yellow.

True, Coldplay puts effort into the commercial side of the music industry and caters to the masses. (Prime example: Martin said at the end of “The Scientist,” “I know Lady Gaga says she has the best fans, but she’s wrong, ‘cause we do.”) People often perceive such musicians as sell-outs. Yet, Coldplay has talent and performs like there is nowhere else they would rather be. Their live songs sound nearly identical to the album versions, showing they don’t use Auto-Tune, enhancements or gimmicks on the latter. This brand of purity is getting harder to come by.

Listening aside, Martin is incredibly enjoyable to watch. He runs and jumps with boundless enthusiasm, sometimes with the dance moves of a stumbling drunkard. During “Trouble” – which he said was “written in 1956, when we were just 12” – he stared up from the piano with a look as starry-eyed as those in the audience. At the end of the tour-de-force “Viva La Vida,” he collapsed, and the audience continued singing the “whoa-oh-ohhhhh-oh-ohhhhh-oh’s” while he lay there – silent, smiling and breathing heavily.

The group left the stage after “Paradise” and reappeared in the audience for “Us Against the World” and “Speed of Sound.” They closed with “Fix You” and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” The experience was like a giant party with Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and 20,000 of their closest friends. Coldplay was entertaining, and at a concert, that’s the best you can ask for.

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