No Clever Title Needed, Coldplay Was Unbelievable
TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
Monday August 4th, 2008
Yep, that title says it all. They were that good, and somehow made spending $120 to not sit all that close to the stage seem completely justified. From the laser show and confetti to the surprise mini-set they played at the top of section 10 and their terrific rendition of of “Death and All of His Friends” to end the show, there wasn’t a second of their 90 minute set that I wasn’t completely impressed by, to put it mildly.
Opening the show were two acts, a local band The Luxury, and hip-hop group Santogold. We missed most of the Luxury’s set, but did have the misfortune of sitting through Santogold’s half hour on stage, which wasn’t all that enjoyable. It was obvious that this nigh would belong entirely to Coldplay, undeniably one of the world’s biggest and most popular rock bands.
After a transparent black screen was lowered in front of the stage, the band walked out to a huge roar from the sold out Garden crowd and tore into an arena-worthy version of instrumental Viva La Vida album opener “Life in Technicolor.” From there, the screen lifted and it was on to “Violet Hill,” the song which, when I first heard it, made me step back and say “wow, this new Coldplay record is going to be amazing.” Throughout the entire show, Chris Martin jumped and shook his way around the stage, working up quite a sweat and making good use of the ramps which extended out from each side of the stage. After “Violet Hill,” a piano was wheeled out and the band played crowd-favorite “Clocks.”
The next two songs turned out to be, in my opinion, one of the huge highlights of the show, as the band played an enormous sing-along version of “In My Place,” which included Martin at one point walking to the edge of one of the ramps and simply admiring the thousands of people singing and swaying along in front of him. Then came “Viva La Vida,” which I think is pretty much one of the best songs ever. One of the great things about this show as the fact that every song seemed to leap off the stage and out of the huge speakers in a way they don’t on CD, and I was amazed at how arena-ready the band’s otherwise more mellow songs sounded in this setting.
Coldplay would then go on to play equally great renditions of “Yes,” “42,” “Fix You,” and “Strawberry Swing” before moving to a small stage set up at the end of the ramp at the right side of the stage. Here they would play acoustic-ish versions of “Chinese Sleep Chant” and “God Put A Smile On Your Face.” I would have rather seen a full electric version of the latter, but it was interesting to hear a different take on the song and it didn’t sound bad by any means.
The band would then return to the stage to play “Speed of Sound,” “Yellow,” and “Lost!” During this part of the set, a rather amazing visual display took place on a giant screen behind the band, at times showing images that related to the songs, and at other times showing live shots of the band. One camera angle I especially liked was the one mounted on the side of the keys on Martin’s piano. Also, live shots were somehow displayed on giant white balls hanging from the ceiling, another nice touch.
After “Lost!,” the band suddenly decided to run down one of the ramps and though the crowd assembled on the floor. They then ran up the aisle of the section where we were sitting, passing about ten feet away from us to the next section over, located toward the back of the first level of the arena. While this expectantly drove the crowd around us wild, the band went on to play an amazing version of “The Scientist” on a small platform about 30 feet from us. This was possibly one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a show (and it’s also pretty high up there on the list of coolest things I’ve seen, period). After Martin explained how useless attempting to play the harmonica was, the band played “Death Will Never Conquer,” with drummer Will Champion handling vocals and Martin on the useless harmonica.
While there wasn’t a great deal of between song banter from Martin, I was surprised by the fact that the things he did say were always amusing, and while many would consider them to be “rock gods” the band never seemed to take themselves too seriously, for Martin was often too busy making fun of himself or thanking so many people for coming out on a Monday night and missing Seinfeld reruns (Jerry Seinfeld, along with Tom Brady and Gwyneth Paltrow were apparently in attendance).
After their section 10 set, the band disappeared from view and readied for the encore while some type of political video played. I’m not really sure what it was about because I was still trying to catch my breath after all that excitement. The band then returned to stage and began the encore with “Politik” and then “Lovers In Japan.” This is where a huge amount of glowing confetti was dropped from the ceiling, always a welcome addition to any show. After this, the screen in at the back of the stage dropped to reveal a huge “Viva” backdrop, and the band broke into “Death and All of His Friends,” undeniably the perfect song to close both a record and a live show. Following the song, the band took their bows to a thunderous applause and left the stage, ending the North American leg of their “Viva La Vida” tour.
While Coldplay’s amazing performace made the night great, it was the crowd that made it so memorable. While I wasn’t around when the Celtics won the NBA championship in June, I’m guessing that the same level of euphoria was felt by the thousands of people streaming out of the Garden that night. A bunch of my friends were at the show, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them so excited and so happy. The energy in the building before, during, and after the show was unbelievable, easily making this one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever seen.
Life In Technicolor
In My Place
Viva La Vida
Chinese Sleep Chant (B-Stage)
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (B-Stage)
Speed Of Sound
The Scientist (Acoustic Set)
Death Will Never Conquer (Acoustic Set, Will on vocals)
Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends