Coldplay quite literally lit-up Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium Wednesday night during a tour-wrapping show in which Chris Martin dropped big hints that his band won’t be back for some time.
This was a proper open-air event, complete with fireworks, giant inflatable balls, glowing hearts and butterflies, lasers and confetti, all framed within a sea of glowing light. And the British four piece — Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion — pulled off a joyful, exuberant set.
It’s almost unimaginable the leap this band has made from the melancholy of their first album, 2000’s “Parachutes”, to the stadium-fillers they are today. They’re surely the mainstream rock group of their generation, a group who can shut down parts of a city on the other side of the world like they did here, and count small children and grandparents among the fans.
In Brisbane, like on the earlier dates in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, they gave a workout to songs from across their canon. There’s a big push for their new album “Mylo Xyloto,” its title track the opening number of more than 20 tracks played.
Early on, Martin thanked the crowd for coming, and promises “that we’re going to play for you the best fucking show in our life.”
The biggest rise accompanies the older stuff – “The Scientist,” “In My Place,” “Violet Hill,” but there’s a lot of love for the new. Rihanna appears dynastic across three big screens during “Princess of China.” But there’s a strangely muted initial response for “Yellow,” the audience not tuned-in to the stripped-back piano reworking of the first verse. Normal service is resumed when the familiar guitars drop.
In an age when every band is desperately trying to harness technology to connect with a mass audience, it seems Coldplay have actually cracked it. On entry, ticket holders were given a wristband with a chunky element which, during the performances, activates into a pulsing light. The stadium becomes a sea of flashing color; everyone is part of the show and there’s a neat memento to show your friends. In years past, bands used to asked audience members to wave a lighter in the air. Since the ’90s, fans held their phones aloft. That’s all so old-school.
Coldplay haven’t shied away from taking the long haul to Australia. They played arenas – and the “Sound Relief” Sydney show — on their 2009 tour. And they headlined Splendour in the Grass festival last year when it was still in Woodfordia, Queensland. Martin clearly has fun working this crowd, and working colloquial expressions into the songs.
“God put a smile upon your face,” he sang. “50,000 Queenslanders in this place.” Actually, it was 52,500. “Thank you for the greatest job on earth,” Martin enthuses. “We’re in the greatest place in the world.” And during a pause in “Clocks,” Martin drops the line, “We come from a land Down Under.”
One of the biggest cheers came in “Miss You,” which segued into “My Happiness,” one of the indelible songs of Brisbane rockers Powderfinger, which broke up in 2010. The members of Powerfinger became friends with Coldplay when they supported the Brits on U.S. dates a decade ago. “We miss you Powderfinger,” Martin tells the audience.
The last leg of a tour is typically cause for a good celebration. Though on this night, Coldplay had more reason to party. “This is the last big show for three years or so,” Martin told the stadium crowd. “I don’t want to stop.”
(Coldplay has three arena shows lined up for the end of December, but after that their schedule is cleared.)
They also played a mini-set at the end of a catwalk and later at the far end of the venue. “You can’t come to the other side of the world and not visit the back of the stadium,” says Martin as he launches into “Us Against the World” on the acoustic guitar, as each member clamours on stage to growing applause.
The anthemic “Fix You” arrived during the encore, a song Marin dedicated “for all you boys taking part in Movember,” a cancer fundraising initiative where all participants leave their upper lips to sprout hair during the month November.
In the afterglow of this show, an online poll conducted by the local Courier Mail newspaper found almost 1,000 music fans rated this show as the city’s best ever stadium performance. Bettering shows by AC/DC, Robbie Williams, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and other luminaries.
Coldplay now moves on to the U.S. for a trio of arena dates culminating in a New Year’s Eve pairing with Jay-Z at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.