With their debut album ‘Parachutes’ released in 2000, the year I was three, and the latest LP ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ released in 2015 when I was 18, it’s fair to say I’ve grown up listening to Coldplay, especially with my mum and brother being committed fans like myself. Having been lucky enough to have seen them live twice at Wembley and Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year, my family and I were eager to get our hands on tickets to one of the group’s Cardiff dates announced last autumn.
Fast forward several months, and Coldplay were due to perform their final UK date of their A Head Full of Dreams Tour, and the centre of Cardiff was buzzing with fans of all ages, many proudly wearing previous tour t-shirts and cementing their adoration for the band since their early days performing under the name Starfish. With the roof open and a clear sky for the evening, it was time to take our seats and watch the atmosphere grow.
‘Alt soul’ group LYVES and West Yorkshire-based indie rockers Embrace both gave strong efforts to warm up the crowd, as it soon became the turn of the main act of the night. Instructions for the tour-specific app, ‘Hypnotised’, appeared on huge screens in Welsh and English, along with guidance to setting up our Xylo bands, wristbands programmed to light up in various colours through the night, with both showcasing Coldplay’s ability to play host for the evening and their use of technology presenting their ability to seemingly easily put on a show and include every member of the audience. Excited and enthusiastic fans were soon cheering over a track of Maria Callas’ ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’; an introductory piece few bands could get away with. Seconds later, the four artists had taken their positions on the main stage as Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator segued into a ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ among strobing lights and rainbow confetti canons bursting like the audience were with excitement.
Crowd favourite ‘Yellow’ followed up, with Chris Martin teasing that ‘even the people in Wales who can’t sing, sing better than me’, and confirming that the night was the ‘last concert in the United Kingdom for some time and we couldn’t have picked a better place’. Working their way energetically through tracks from all seven albums in their catalogue, it soon became clear that Coldplay were masters of putting on a show.
With hits such as ‘Paradise’, ‘Clocks’, ‘Magic’ and ‘Viva la Vida’ just a few of Coldplay’s stadium-filling anthems performed on the night, the group also moved between three stages allowing a well-rounded engagement with the audience. Asking the crowd to put away their phones for one song so everyone present could temporarily ‘forget social media’, as well as inviting an opera singer fan onto stage to play the instrumental piano opening to ‘Everglow’, it was clear Chris Martin and co. are among the best at engaging with each and every fan and holding them in the palm of their hands. Performing their cover of ‘Till Kingdom Come’ as their audience requested song before covering another of Johnny Cash’s pieces, ‘Ring of Fire’, the eight-time BRIT Award winning group triumphed at putting on a truly electric gig atmosphere and acknowledging the patriotism of the predominantly Welsh crowds.
Heading back to the main stage for the final few songs, and having spoken of a gig roughly two decades ago at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, it was touching to see Coldplay’s respect and admiration for Welsh pride, particularly illustrated towards the end of the gig as Chris Martin stood on-stage illuminated under a spotlight with a Welsh flag tucked in his back pocket. With ‘Up&Up’ being the closing number from the four as they thanked the audience again, it was time for a surprise for the audience and what is sure to be a concert highlight for many, as two guests plus Rob Brydon were invited onto the stage to close the night with ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’. If Coldplay needed any more evidence of their status as a band who radiate love and positivity in their music and towards their fans, this unforgettable night was sure to have proved this as the group and guests joined on the centre of the main stage for a final bow, over a backdrop of cheering and applause from euphoric fans.
5 Stars *****
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