I stand now on the precipice of a new decade of my life, its experiences unknown, its joys undiscovered, its sorrows unmeasured. I see a decade quite similar in its turbulence in my rear-view mirror. Throughout the past ten years of my life, I changed in more ways that I could ever care to count, and I greatly appreciate the very few things that, throughout this past decade, remained somewhat constant. Coldplay, as a concept if not as a band, stands among those few.
I’ve heard, in my time listening to and growing up with this band, innumerable criticisms from music writers, all in the same vein: that the Coldplay’s optimism is aimless and relentless to a fault, and that the unspecific nature of their message is irritating, at least to anyone whose job it is to ruthlessly criticize every band that they’re assigned to review. For those among us who view music as an emotionally inaccessible tool, for those who view music as many among us view painting, as an “other” art, this might ring true.
This criticism ignores however, the scores upon scores of people who take solace in an optimism undirected, an optimism that allows listeners to create a space for themselves outside the tumult of a constantly changing life. For teenagers like me growing up, this is precisely the purpose Coldplay served. I took solace in X&Y’s ethereality, in Parachutes’ and A Rush of Blood to The Head’s placidity, in the soaring melodies of Mylo Xyloto and Viva La Vida, and in the melancholy of Ghost Stories, all albums with which I was able to find parallels to in my own life growing up. Every subsequent record was a means of finding peace; no matter what fresh hell I was at that time enduring, Coldplay was there, urging me to keep my head up.
Onstage at Lincoln Financial Field, this translated into an endless, unwavering outpouring of energy, most notably from frontman, falsetto king, Apple-loving Chris Martin, who spent a majority of the 24-song set running around his immense stage setup, accenting his vocal high points with confetti, fireworks, lasers, and three-foot diameter balloons. The message that comes across immediately upon seeing this band in action is that they wholeheartedly believe in the message they push, that optimism is malleable, variable, and still universal. It’s found in the melancholy of lost loved ones, in the uncertainty of the future coupled with the height of dreams, in being a light in the dark for our friends, and in repairing our friends when they inevitably lose.
Martin and his merry men absolutely played the hits (they played every single chart-topping single from every one of their seven albums over the course of their set), but the set did have some more tender moments, moments that made that made Lincoln Financial Field seem just slightly more like a 1000-cap venue. Martin wrapped up his time on the B- stage with “Everglow”, a Head Full of Dreams deep cut inspired by a California surfer, all about the warm feelings we still get from people we’ve lost, a message amplified several times by a chorus of 60,000. The set featured two covers, one of the late David Bowie’s “Heroes”, in a tribute to Bowie as well as Prince, and one acoustic version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”, a gift that was very well-received by the crowd (one must think there’s some overlap in the fanbase). The last three songs on the A-stage were immense, chock-full of confetti and fireworks, and an explosive cap to a high-energy set.
I needn’t tell you about the merit’s of each and every song in Coldplay’s set; if you’re a big enough Coldplay fan to be reading this far into this review in the first place, you probably already know. For me at least, the set was a beautiful retrospective on a band that in every sense grew up and metamorphosed alongside me. In that regard, they’ll always hold a place in my heart, and if this set proved anything else, it’s that they’ll be just as important to me in the decade to come. Photos, a GoPro video or two from the floor, and a setlist are appended below!
O Mio Babbino Caro (Maria Callas song)
A Head Full of Dreams (extended intro with Charlie Chaplin speech)
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
Birds (with “Oceans” excerpt in intro)
Paradise (with Tiësto remix outro)
Always in My Head
Princess of China
Clocks (with “Army of One” excerpt in intro)
Hymn for the Weekend
“Heroes” (David Bowie cover)
Viva la Vida
Adventure of a Lifetime
Kaleidoscope (Muse song) (extended)
Don’t Panic (acoustic)
In My Place (acoustic)
Til Kingdom Come (audience request song)
Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen cover)
A Sky Full of Stars
Up & Up