Shortly before Coldplay -- consisting of frontman Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion -- hit the stage, the venue was filled with the sounds of a Puccini aria sung by Miriam Gauci. A digital roadmap of every country the band has visited so far -- beginning in South America, through Europe, England and now America -- filled the screens, accompanied by video of local fans proudly holding their respective flags and introducing the rockers in their native languages. Coldplay just wrapped an extensive U.K. and European tour, including four sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium.
Coldplay then began the show in spectacular fashion, launching into the track “A Head Full of Dreams” with an explosion of effects usually reserved for a concert’s finale. As Martin leaped onto a constructed 50-yard runway, confetti cannons blasted the audience with a wide array of color (in a brilliant twist later, the confetti took on different forms, shaped like birds and stars) into the night as the wristbands lit up in red and fireworks blazed into the sky. The wristband lights -- controlled by backstage wizards timing the lights to the music -- shifted for each song, predictably shining yellow for the song, “Yellow,” but in other instances turned MetLife Stadium into Christmas in July with varying hues.
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Martin joyfully worked every bit of the runway and the stage all night, at one point extending his arms like a buoyant kid pretending to fly like an airplane, and at others doing that kneeling thing he does. Martin bonded with the crowd early as he held up an American flag to ecstatic cheers, bandying it in his back pocket all night and even expressing a desire to move the States on a permanent basis, a reference to Brexit.
“We’ll probably be refugees here at some point,” the singer joked.
The night was filled with uplifting anthems and sing-alongs of the group’s biggest hits -- from the upbeat “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” to “Paradise,” complete with the Tiesto dance remix, and plenty of opportunities to jump and dance.
There were poignant moments as well, as Martin laid out the French flag on the piano in memory of the 84 people slain in Nice, France. President Barack Obama made an appearance (in spirit) with his version of “Amazing Grace,” and a video of an old Muhammad Ali interview was shown on the big screen. Fallen artists were also honored with a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
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“It’s a very confusing time to be alive,” Martin said. “The only response is to send love and good thoughts.”
Martin was most effective seated at the keys for the crowd pleasing “Clocks” and inviting all to sing in unison to songs like “The Scientist." Martin also shared a moment in song with the fans, who raised their voices in empathy for the recently divorced frontman for the gorgeous “Fix You.”
Martin isn’t the only pianist in the group; Buckland, Berryman and Champion all contribute to elevate the show to new heights. Buckland, much like U2’s The Edge, creates sounds worthy of multiple guitarists, and “Birds” simply soars with Champion’s harmonies.
The concert was divided into three stages, the main stage, a platform at the end of the runway and a third location in the back of the stadium, as Martin explained he felt it was important to say hello to “everyone.”
Peering out into the stands, the singer reminisced about the group’s earliest appearance in the states at New York's Irving Plaza that resulted in him exiting the stage after two songs because he “couldn’t hack it.” In an attempt to rectify that blemish for those in the audience that happened to “be there on that fateful night,” Coldplay did a simple and beautiful version of “In My Place.”
As an added bonus, the band took requests from Instagram, and even though it was obvious they couldn't remember how to play "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" (Martin was instructing Buckland in the changes from chorus to riff), it was a sincere and endearing moment.
Martin, who shouted out to “the great state of New York and the greater state of New Jersey,” also couldn’t help making two Garden State references in his banter and performance, first by shouting out handsome bassist Berryman as “the eldest Jonas brother” (the Jonas Brothers hail from Wyckoff, N.J.) and later covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Jersey Girl” (penned by Tom Waits), referencing him as “the greatest artist, in my opinion."
Thank you for giving us your Saturday night,” Martin shouted to the audience, many of whom waited out a freak New Jersey lightning storm in the parking lot hours before. This was not lost on Martin, who thanked fans for fighting through “traffic and storms” to come to the show, and admitted the band was feeling nervous about the very first night of the tour.
“We as a band want to thank you for coming out, not just tonight but for all the nights, and for taking all the shit you get for being into Coldplay,” he said.
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Show opener Alessia Cara warmed up the show with selections from her debut album, Know it All. The Canadian native is the thinking girl’s pop star, encouraging all to accept themselves and not conform to the rules of the world in the introduction of her single, “Wild Things” and newly released “Scars to Your Beautiful.”
Cara was chatty and charming, strapping on an acoustic guitar and eagerly sharing stories for each song. She wrapped her soulful vocals around the hit “Here” and earnest “Seventeen.” Considering she performed in Freehold, N.J., at iPlay America one year ago, the Coldplay tour is a huge leap, or as the 20-year-old (born the year Coldplay formed... think about it) called it, “a dream.”
Foxes (aka Louisa Rose Allen) rounds out the bill, ably entertaining the audience with her Zedd collaboration, the EDM hit, “Clarity” and selections from her latest album, All I Need.
Here's Coldplay's full set list:
"A Head Full of Dreams"
"Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall"
"Always in My Head"
"Princess of China"
"Hymn for the Weekend"
"Heroes" (David Bowie cover)
"Viva la Vida"
"Adventure of a Lifetime"
"In My Place"
"God Put a Smile Upon Your Face"
"Jersey Girl" (Tom Waits cover)
"A Sky Full of Stars"