The festivities began at 7:00 pm with Emeli Sande, one of England’s brightest new upstarts. I arrived at the venue just as she hit the stage to promote her debut album, Our Version of Events. I experienced half of her set from the hallways, trying to find my section and debating on how to deal with the humidity blanketing the ACC. From my vantage point, Sande’s sound was pretty muddled and her vocals had to fight through the din to be heard. Closing the 30 minute set with her single, “Next to Me,” she saved the best for last with a percussion-heavy track that saw improved sound and delivered on her debut’s promise.
Next up and also via England, Marina and the Diamonds. Again, sound was not great for glittery Marina and her band. I’m not overly familiar with her music, but the set bounced between two distinct musical styles; the Goldfrapp-like dance numbers had the most bite and drew the biggest response from a surprisingly quiet crowd. Other songs recalled The Smiths. I can’t say I was won over, but I’m definitely curious.
Now, I’m not the biggest Coldplay fan. The only album I have in my collection is 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head. But this was my fourth time seeing the band and what they lack in edge, they make up in spades with enthusiasm. Ticket holders were given wristbands when they arrived at the venue with no explanation. After Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” the lights went down and the purpose of the wristbands became clear; the thick bands were like glow sticks, each a different colour and were controlled by the lighting board. The effect was like Christmas lights gone overboard, but truly looked amazing.
Opening with the title track from their most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, singer Chris Martin wasted no time in expending as much energy as possible, running and jumping all over the large stage and even giving some attention to the poor souls that bought tickets behind the stage. By the third track, “In My Place,” the band’s production would have the cleaning crew working overtime as explosions of confetti filled the room. Large beach balls also filled with confetti were unleashed bouncing over the eager heads.
While Chris Martin promised the best gig of their career, the band - and crowd for that matter- didn’t live up to the pledge. Maybe it was the humidity, but for a Coldplay gig this was the most subdued I’ve ever heard the crowd. The band definitely tried though and I have to give a special shout out to drummer Will Champion who beat his drums like his life depended on it. He also sings and plays guitar!
The four-piece moved about 20 rows into the floor to a secondary stage and played a few songs including their latest single “Princess of China” complete with Rihanna on the video screen for her parts in the duet. Then back to close the set on the main stage, with “Paradise.”
An impressive encore followed with Martin appearing in section 120, eventually joined by his band-mates for a couple of songs. Between all this interaction with the crowd and a set-list generous with hits, you would have to be hard done by not to leave impressed. Instead of disappearing into the hollows of the arena, the band sprinted down to the floor and back on to the stage to close out the evening, highlighted by a muscled up “Clocks," which was accompanied with a spectacular lighting display and sounded great.
I do have one gripe about the evening, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the band. When the band had moved to the secondary stage, everyone around me scrambled to get pictures, not of the band, but of themselves with the band in the background. I'm baffled by this behaviour because it is distracting for those of us trying to watch the concert. I hope that we can live our lives without having to desperately prove through our phones that we have a life, when life is actually passing us by.