Beige no longer, Coldplay’s stadium stint in north London this weekend proved to be the most colourful live spectacle I have ever witnessed.
While it was pure red, white and blue for the Queen down on the Mall, up here umpteen thousand wristbands flashed red, white, blue, green and pink in a bewildering sight that dazzled far beyond expectations. Everybody’s bands started flashing during the whizz-bang opener, Hurts Like Heaven, during which they were outshone by so many fireworks that the stadium was awash with smoke. Then they stayed off for just long enough to be forgotten about, until the sun went down, Charlie Brown and its line about “glowing in the dark” came on, and the space exploded into light in perfect time to the music.
It was a sight that will not be forgotten by those who saw it, an audience that included stadium-filler-in-waiting Adele, for a very long time. An expensive gimmick, perhaps, but it united the masses in a manner that has become Coldplay’s trademark. When the fans weren’t bellowing the “woah-oh-oh”s of Viva La Vida as one, they were howling approval for the band’s return, one by one with the addition of honorary harmonica player Simon Pegg, to a small stage at the back for the first encore.
The song was Us Against the World, but there was no conflict here. “I can see you at the back,” Chris Martin assured us. “The more you give the more we give.” There was no divide between crowd and band, no stars versus plebs – if anything Coldplay seem to look up to their audience. Musically they have brightened up too. Having moved beyond the need to match U2’s gravitas that drags down any young band lucky enough to start filling arenas, they now revel in Martin’s dayglo gift for melody.
Rihanna appeared brandishing dangerous fingernails on the five big screens during the glorious synthpop of Princess of China. Those amazing wristbands sparked up again when they played the supremely catchy Paradise. Even quiet guitarist Jonny Buckland had a dance down the ego ramp during his solo on a pounding God Put a Smile upon Your Face.
The stadium staples were ticked off – confetti blasts during In my Place, giant bouncing balloons everywhere for Lovers in Japan, yet more fireworks for the hyperactive finale, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall. For sight and sound, it was surely the pinnacle of one of London’s most spectacular long weekends.