May 23rd 2009
Comcast Theater, Hartford CT
After releasing a hugely successful, Grammy winning album and touring the world non-stop for the past year, you would think Coldplay would be ready for a nice long vacation. However, the band did not become one of the world’s biggest by sitting on a beach in the Caribbean, and they won’t be doing that any time soon. Instead, they are spending their summer playing amphitheaters in cities that most do their best to avoid. One of those cities is Hartford, Connecticut, where Coldplay would continue their Viva La Vida tour at the Comcast Theater. While their live show hasn’t change much since I saw them on the first leg of the tour last summer, they amazed me once again, belting out their biggest hits along with a few new surprises in another memorable performance.
New Jersey native and Syracuse graduate Pete Y0rn opened the show with a sleep-educing forty minute set of dull ballads and soft rock numbers that were better suited for an elevator than a packed amphitheater. Yorn sauntered around the stage for most of the set, barely acknowledging the crowd and saying little between songs. The rest of his band looked even less interested, often blankly staring off into space while playing their instruments with as little enthusiasm as humanly possible. While Yorn’s songs have been featured in TV dramas such as House and in romantic comedies such as Me, Myself, and Irene, they simply didn’t come across well in this setting.
Thirty minutes after Yorn and company left the stage to a small smattering of applause, A semi-transparent black screen was lowered over the stage and the lights were dimmed. Lead singer Chris Martin led the rest of the band, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion out on stage. With sparkling torches held aloft, the band jogged to the drum set, extinguished the flames, and began the show with the customary opener, “Life In Technicolor.” After the screen dropped and the band was finally revealed, they segued into “Violet Hill,” which inspired the first giant sing along of the night. The setlist focused mainly on the band’s older hits, as well as a good deal of material from their latest full-length, Viva La Vida, and it’s follow up EP, Prospect’s March.
An early highlight of the set was the band’s first big hit “Yellow,” which featured an impressive laser show that stretched all the way to the lawn, as well as confetti-filled yellow balloons bouncing all over the venue. Another early highlight was the performance of “Fix You” from 2005’s X & Y. After jumping around the stage and working the crowd into a tizzy for most of the song, Martin simply sat at his piano and listened as the 13,000 in attendance sang the last chorus back to him in (not quite) perfect harmony.
After an upbeat performance of “Strawberry Swing,” the band ventured off stage and into the crowd, stopping at a small platform located in the center of the pavilion. The quartet has been doing this throughout their Viva La Vida tour, to the delight of those in the cheap(er) seats, who got an unexpectedly close view for these three songs. Without a drum set, the band presented “techno” versions of “God Put A Smile On Your Face” and “Talk.” Both sounded slightly awkward and didn’t live up to their full band versions, but they seemed to please the crowd nonetheless. Champion, Buckland, and Berryman then returned to the stage, leaving Martin alone on the platform with his piano. The lead singer announced that this would be the boring part of the set, and he instructed those in the audience who might be craving a hot dog to head to the concession stands. While few took him up on the offer, Martin’s rendition of “The Hardest Part” certainly wasn’t the highlight of the set. That would follow shortly.
As Martin made his way back through the crowd and a recorded version of the instrumental track “Postcards From Far Away” was played, an enormous bongo drum was rolled to the front of the stage, where Champion stood ready. Just as Martin made it back, the opening notes from “Viva La Vida” could be heard, and the crowd instantly roared its approval. As he would do all show, Martin bounced around the stage , getting up close and personal with as many fans as possible. He ended “Viva La Vida” singing the melody on his back, and the crowd ate it up. After performing “Lost!,” the band would once again leave the stage.
This time, Martin and Co. would venture even further from the elaborately designed set, making their way to a platform on the lawn, nearly causing a stampede of fans who had been lounging on blankets and folding chairs only minutes before. Martin would then string together a series of cheesy but humorous rhymes about Hartford and playing for the fans in the back, one of which went “When you’re depressed and sitting on your butt, come play a show in Connecticut.” The band would then perform “Green Eyes” from A Rush of Blood To the Head, as well as “Death Will Never Conquer,” a short folk-ish track the band released free on their website featuring Champion on lead vocals. Martin had introduced the drummer with a rhyme that sounded something like “Now you’re all in for a thrill, for here’s our drummer Will.” Is Martin preparing for a future career as a children’s novelist? I hope not.
After finishing their set on the lawn with a sing-along cover of Neil Diamond’s “I’m A Believer,” the band would take a short break before finally returning to the main stage. Here they would preform one of their most rocking tracks, Politik,” and then “Lovers In Japan.” The latter brought a blizzard-like storm of brightly colored confetti that nearly obscured the entire stage. After grabbing not only a Japanese umbrella but also an enormous dragon head costume (seriously), Martin would bring the song to and end and then end the set with “Death And All His Friends.”
After the band left the stage, the crowd began to sing the melody to “Viva La Vida,” and before long, the quartet returned to the stage to preform a two song encore. It began with “The Scientist” and then concluded with “Life in Technicolor II” from the Prospect’s March EP. Surprisingly, the crowd was as into this song as any the band had played, singing along as if the tune was their biggest single. Coldplay then took their bows and made their exit. As thousands of very satisfied fans did the same, they continued to sing the melody to “Viva La Vida,” and it could be heard on the concourse and even as the throngs made their way outside the venue and back to the parking lots. With this most likely being Coldplay’s last visit to Hartford for some time, it was obvious the band had left their mark with this performance. At the beginning of the show, Martin brought up the fact they were trying to make up for a sub-par showing during their last visit to the city. While they may not have given the “eight billion percent” effort the lead singer had promised, they certainly made their previous missteps seem like a very distant memory.
Life In Technicolor
In My Place
Glass Of Water
Cemeteries Of London
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (techno version, Pavilion)
Talk (techno version, Pavilion)
The Hardest Part (Pavilion)
Postcards From Far Away
Viva La Vida
Green Eyes (Lawn)
Death Will Never Conquer (Lawm)
I’m A Believer (Neil Diamond Cover, Lawn)
Viva La Vida (remix interlude)
Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends
Life in Technicolor ii