Every concert emits a certain aura, whether it is a laid-back coffe-shop jazz quartet or a head-banging arena show. For more than a decade, Coldplay has colored crowds with concerts that near reckless joy, leaving sold-out audiences with permanent grin marks. The current Mylo Xyloto tour is more of the same, and for a Coldplay concert virgin, I must say I wasn’t wrong in my effusive confidence that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
I was blown away by Coldplay’s ability to perform a concert with tremendous production value that does not take away from the music (but rather adds to the songs). In calculated moments, props were added to songs (beach balls, glowing blown-up shapes, confetti), and these elements added color to the rainbow rays of laser light that shot around the IZOD center in New Jersey on Friday. The true bulk of the entire production was colored remote-controlled bracelets that were electronically lit up at certain points of the show, creating a multi-colored graffiti of light that brightened the dark and flashed collectively as the sold out arena aided lead singer Chris Martin with every lyric.
Graffiti, the theme of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto and their current tour, is generally considered disorganized and splotchy. But when you look through the lines of sprayed color and chalky pictures, it is not difficult to see a hint of togetherness in the art. This is what was perhaps most striking about the concert. There was an incredible element of family and togetherness, and the band played to this successfully.
It is Coldplay’s comfort on the stage that has most likely influenced their staying power. While they may not be flawless performers, they are damn near close. Martin’s voice is unchanged from recordings to stage, and I always respect a vocalist who is actually a damn good vocalist. The music was tremendous throughout the 21-song set. The acoustics of the IZOD center are a little better than decent. The sound can get a little absorbed by the stadium creating a slight echo that drowns out some of the bass. It was obviously best when, in the encore, the band, who had now moved to a mock side stage in the right stands (lucky people who had seats there), slowly added instruments.
Of the entire set, “The Scientist” stood out to me. It was not only because of my absolute enjoyment of that song, but also the loud sing-along that overcame Martin at times. But, who am I kidding, the entire show was pretty much a joint sing-along. “The Scientist” was followed by an acoustic performance of “Yellow.” Did you know “Yellow” is more than a decade old. Wow. I realized that during the show as I sang it with reckless abandon of my vocal chords. My chops took further shots during “Clocks” and “Fix You,” and, heck, I’ll admit it, “Viva La Vida” and the concert finale “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”
Say what you want. Say the band sold out from its Brit-piano-pop roots. I wouldn’t call what Coldplay did selling out. They evolved. And this was quite evident by the diverse crowd at the show. 30-40-year-olds mixed with 14-15-year-olds singing past and present songs like they were part of a church choir. Coldplay’s electro-pop Mylo Xyloto was just one more notch in Coldplay’s belt. The next album and tour will certainly be even more creative, and I am looking forward to attending.