Coldplay concert review: It’s a big, fun singalong for Vancouver fans

Friday was the first of back-to-back B.C. Place gigs for Chris Martin and Co., which means more than 100,000 fans be singing along to Yellow and other hits this weekend

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There are big bands. Then there is Coldplay.

The U.K. group fronted by lead singer Chris Martin and backed by some other guys is one of the only musical acts in the world who can pull off back-to-back gigs at B.C. Place. To put that in context, more than 100,000 fans will get to singalong with Martin on Yellow and other hits this weekend.

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Breaking both ticket sales and attendance records in 2022, the Music of the Spheres tour is also receiving some of the most consistently positive reviews of Coldplay’s career.

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Given how well this crew crafts songs to suit the arena experience and how meticulously managed all elements of its live shows have been in the past, even non-fans tend to walk away from their concerts nodding in approval.

Where some groups go for grandiosity and gravitas, Coldplay prefers to deliver good vibes and grins. Its music may pile on the pathos, but the end result is downright pleasant and unwaveringly positive.

Kind of like the ultimate dad band done incredibly well bringing everyone else along for the fun.

Here’s how it all went down on Friday night:

After a slew of openers, H.E.R. arrived to give a lesson in what it feels like to be an acclaimed band reduced to playing medleys that included snippets of everything from Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll to Queen and Lenny Kravitz. Yawn.

After a round of adverts for different global environmental groups, Coldplay brought on youth from local First Nations groups to do a proper land acknowledgment, which was powerful in being more genuine than most.

This was followed by the explanation of how the group is aiming for carbon neutral touring. Very worthy, if doubtful.

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Downloading the Music of the Spheres app provides more information. More bands should do this. Period.

Opening with Higher Power, the L.E.D. wristbands went right to work, playing a variety of colours across the crowd — and it looked great.

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Martin was everywhere on the giant stage, skipping around, smiling and hugging bandmates as beach balls bounced around the stadium.

By the third song, Paradise, the crowd was completely under Martin’s sway as they followed his conducting and nailed the chorus. The Scientist came next and people hung on every strum of Jonny Buckland’s guitar. The stadium singalong was in full force.

While it wasn’t needed, Martin did a shout-out to the house, recalling that Vancouver was the place where the band played its first North American show. Many more than the number that caught that Commodore gig voiced wild approval.

Viva La Vida followed on the B-stage in the middle of the floor. You could almost make out the lyrics over the crowd. Almost.

Drummer Will Champion — an utterly invaluable contributor to the hook-laden whoah-whoah background vocals — often took control of the crowd choruses. This gave Martin a moment to catch his breath. Albeit a brief one.

The fact that the sound is so derivative of almost-huge past acts such as the Alarm and Big Country and huge acts like U2 doesn’t matter to the fans. Why should it?

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Coldplay has tapped into a near-perfect mix of melodic familiarity and feel-good lyrics that taps universal emotions.

Of course, this depends on who your are. With its sensitive man lyrics and puppet duet, Human Heart is sure to run afoul of right-wing groups for its rainbow flag waving.

As for the whole robot heads thing, let’s just say that if they sold those masks at the mercy table, they would have sold out. It was a ridiculously fun moment in a universally fun event.

All told, Music of the Spheres is a tour de force for everyone who sees it.

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