Coldplay opened its North American tour last night (July 14) at the Forum in Los Angeles, treating the sold-out crowd to a career-spanning, 20-song set list. The 90-minute show, complete with floating video globes, confetti and flashing laser beams, went heavy on new material in various different incarnations on multiple stages throughout the venue, including a two-song jaunt up in the top most colonnade of arena seats.
"I can tell it's gonna be a good one," singer Chris Martin told the audience while catching his breath after "Violet Hill" -- the first single from the band's new, chart-topping, "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends."
Content to let layers of pre-recorded backing tracks fill out most of the new songs, Martin was free to spend much of the evening hopping, skipping and jumping around the stage like an over-caffeinated gymnast, while his bandmates -- guitarist Johnny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion -- tucked into their instruments behind him with satisfactory aplomb.
Barring a few to-be-expected missteps along the way, (missed instrumental cues in "Death and All His Friends," botched parts in "Speed of Sound") the show moved like clockwork, as teams of stagehands hustled to move pianos and makeshift drum kits back and forth onstage between songs.
Clever enough to try and keep the audience from getting too bored at any given time, the group successfully interjected a variety of audio and visual amusements throughout the evening. Peppering new material with at least two songs from each of its previous three albums, Coldplay offered older hits like "Clocks" and "In My Place" early in the set.
Eight songs in, the group decamped to a smaller platform that extended outward from the right side of the main stage into the crowd for "Chinese Sleep Chant" and "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face", both of which featured a leaner guitar-and-bass arrangement, as well as sampled 808 electronic drums.
Back on the main stage, the group wisely ditched the orchestral backing tracks, albeit temporarily, for stripped-down versions of "Trouble" and "Speed of Sound," the latter of which sounded refreshingly under-rehearsed.
Later, the group was led by security onto the floor and up the stairs of the venue to a third platform all the way up in the highest group of the Forum's seats, where, huddled together like sardines, it performed acoustic versions of "Yellow" and "Death Will Never Conquer," which featured Champion on lead vocals.
Los Angeles in certainly no stranger to big-budget, high-production-value extravaganzas, and as Martin befittingly joked, "Where better than to kick off the paid professional entertainment portion of our tour!" Coldplay returns to the Forum again tonight.
Here is Coldplay's set list:
"Life in Technicolor"
"In My Place"
"Viva La Vida"
"Chinese Sleep Chant"
"God Put a Smile Upon Your Face"
"Speed of Sound"
"Death Will Never Conquer"
"Lovers In Japan"
"Death and All His Friends" / "The Escapist"