Coldplay fans are either too old or too young to know who Simon Pegg is.
Coldplay fans don’t appreciate Robyn, but they do recognise ‘Heartbeat’.
Chris Martin doesn’t interact with people in the crowd by winking, nodding his head or pointing - he just widens his eyes at people as if to say: ‘Yeah, I’m bloody excited, too!’. It’s cute and very sincere. He’s deferential and void of charisma to the point where it stops seeming just like a defensive mechanism and loops back around to being very endearing.
Partly thanks to the quality of the hooks and the ‘casual’ nature of the average Coldplay fan, their songs live are these really weird wormhole-y things that inspire people to either start ‘Whoooaaa-oohhhhh-oohhh’ing a good minute too early or continue to do so over the rest of the song. Language and song structure be dammed.
Coldplay are the kings of that wordless hook and the more recent trend of syllable hooks. Para-para-paradise etc. Even though they’re the tamest pop centrists around they’re probably quite a big subconscious influence on the post-dubstepp-y fractured vocal thingy.
Fireworks watched from the distance, preferably from the comfort of your own house on a windswept new year’s eve, are really nice, and somewhat elegiac and solemn. Fireworks up close just seem really vulgar and shallow. I’m kinda aware of some really serious aesthetic criticism that lionises fireworks as the perfect metaphor for art (Goethe, maybe?), but - at a Coldplay gig at least - they’re really not.
They are the perfect metaphor for how I feel about Coldplay’s music, though. They are very impressive, very forceful, very catchy, very sublime. But they just leave me feeling really hollow. My last stadium gig was seeing Muse about four years back. I now find their music just as unimpressive, but at least it was exciting, funny, playful stuff. It might just be my Radiohead-fan bias talking, but hey.
Those who arrived early enough where given these blinking wristbands. ‘Tighten them around your wrist. Raise your wrists into the air. It’s part of the show!’ we were told by a slightly patronising message stuck on the big screens. Admittedly, the effect was really impressive: rather than just flashing, the lights blinked in time (sort of) with certain songs and, along with the whole multi-coloured tie-died aesthetic Coldplay are doing on this album cycle, it made the Emirates look like some fantastical, neon-lit Great Barrier Reef once it got dark. That said there was something very Nazi salute about the way people ended up thrusting one hand into the air to facilitate that effect, which, combined with the whole populist Big Music Coldplay play, and the odd Union Jack flag, hat, phone cover, piece of clothing that contaminated the stadium, made the whole thing feel a bit fascist-y, brainwash-y. And the Marxist in me couldn’t help but think that they should be providing their own labour for their impressive light show, not contracting it out to us, the exploited worker trying to enjoy his or her leisure time. It’s like the pop show equivalent of websites that ask you to rate and categorise their own content. On an individual, superficial level it’s nothing really, but there’s a moment when you stop and think about the economics and politics of it and it feels really suspect just for a brief moment before you start wow-ing at the pretty lights again.
There’s something to be said about that moment at stadium gigs like this where, whilst milling around the toilet/overpriced merchandise area, you first spy the stage and all it’s outlandish furniture through one of the entrances.