Show Review: Coldplay with The Pierces and Metronomy at HP Pavilion, 4/28/2012

by Stacy Scales on April 30, 2012

Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin (with Guy Berryman in background)

To most of the fans in attendance at HP Pavilion this past Saturday night, I might have seemed crazy… or at least like I’ve been living under a rock since 2000. That’s not to say that I’ve never heard of Coldplay, or don’t enjoy the singles I’ve been hearing over the years, or that I dislike them. I just never caught the fever. Much like U2, Coldplay was always a band I liked, but had never gotten rabid about like their hardcore fans. In my experience, when I feel that ambivalent about a band, I often think that most of their songs sound the same. I remember when “Yellow” came out: I was 21, and I loved it. And after that, for some reason, I never paid much attention. But here I am, 12 years later, and the opportunity to see (and review) them falls into my lap – do I go? Hell yes! I couldn’t pass up a chance to see what all the fuss was about, and I knew I’d leave the show with a forever “meh” attitude about them, or come home having caught the fever…

The evening started early due to two stellar opening acts. The first, The Pierces, went on as people were still slowly filing in, around 7:15. This duo of beautiful sisters have pretty voices, nice harmonies, and best of all, lyrics I can sink my teeth into. They began with “Love You More” from their brand new album, You & I. I admit, the subject matter of this song didn’t interest me as much as it could have, but the overall sound is enjoyable enough that I didn’t care: I didn’t get anxious about wanting to see Coldplay; I just savored the sound of the opener. It was during the third song, “Drag You Down,” that I started actually listening a bit more intently to the lyrics (“if the weekend starts on Wednesday and it lasts till Monday night, then when Tuesday comes around you better treat your body right”). “Kissing You Goodbye” came next, followed by a cheer of appreciation when one of the girls announced “Secret,” which turned out to be a highlight for me, too. (How can you not enjoy a song that says “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead”?)

The lovely Pierce sisters

Before they began “We Are Stars,” Allison explained that it was one of her favorite of the songs her sister Catherine has written. It was about admitting all those things we’re basically ashamed to admit (whether to ourselves or to someone else) that we feel: like simply wanting to be with someone. As it turned out, I agreed with Allison: this was my favorite song of their set. “You’ll Be Mine” followed, and then the girls joked that they wanted to meet people and sign anything after the show, that maybe they’d make a contest out of it, and the winner might get a big kiss. They explained that their new record had been produced by Coldplay’s own bassist Guy Berryman and producer Rik Simpson. As their set finished, I was trying to pay attention to the crowd’s reaction. I know most that were already there were antsy for Coldplay, but even so, I think that many were enjoying this rocking folksy duo as much as I.

The Pierces with (most of) their band

Metronomy came next, and while I had a hard time seeing (and photographing) them from my seat, I could hear them just fine, and I liked them right away. Their sound is a very happy, poppy electronic, and I immediately found it delicious. They played “The Bay,” said hello, and upon explaining that it was their second night ever in San Jose (as the band is English), began “Heartbreaker.” Metronomy’s music makes me imagine a night out in sweaty “underground” clubs in London dancing with cute boys, which is to say: what’s not to like? At this point, I had to give up on song titles, but my notes say this: “can’t figure out any song titles, but I want this album!” Shortly thereafter, one of the band members mentioned their new album, The English Riviera, so I now know where to start. Following a brief admission that member Oscar had hit a deer (who ran away, leaving Oscar to fear the worst), the band dedicated their last song to the deer, and I blissed out to their sound once more.

Half of Metronomy

The next thing I knew, I had a beer in one hand and a funny-looking bracelet in the other. The bracelet said “Coldplay” on one side, and “Twitter” on the other, but I was told I’d want it for the show; that it was part of their set. Just as the arena lights started going down, my bracelet lit bright blue: and those around me did the same: a myriad of rainbow-colored lights: red, yellow, pink, blue, green. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen at a show before. Before they even began, Coldplay had taken glow sticks to a whole new, beautiful level. It was like a black light parade, with the whole stage decked out in black light-responsive paint. And then a gorgeous light show, too? Impressive. The band made something of a grand entrance to music that sounded, to me, very reminiscent of Star Wars, though I’m not cool enough to know whether or not it actually was from the films, or just similar in nature. Either way, the fun had begun.

After the title track from newest album, Mylo Xyloto came “Hurts Like Heaven,” and Chris Martin began waving to the crowd, being certain to turn to all angles so as to leave no one out. I immediately became fond of what I can only describe as an innately childlike quality: several times throughout the night I noticed that he seemed to be genuinely having fun: he ran, he jumped, he spun in circles, he fell to the floor, he played in confetti. And oh yeah, he can sing his ass off, play the piano, and the guitar? Already, I’m starting to understand why the world has loved Coldplay all these years. “In My Place” came next, followed by a quick “welcome to night two in the Shark Tank!” Mr. Martin explained that they know what a hassle it is to come out these days, what with crazy traffic, etc. “It means a big deal you’ve made it through,” he said, so they were going to “give you everything we have tonight. Give us your best too, ok?”

During “Major Minus,” Chris continued to wave to specific people he made eye contact with in the crowd. When he said “I see every one of you!” I was again impressed with the level of connection he strives for. For so many diehard fans of bands, they love the music, but just as much (or in some cases, more) they love the band, and the relationships they develop. It’s easy to understand that Coldplay’s fans are probably among those who love fiercely, just as for me, it was easy to see why. Out of seemingly nowhere, as “Lovers in Japan” began, giant beach balls descended all over the arena. Really they were humongous balloons, as they were thin and popped easily, spraying everyone around with even more confetti. As the crowd sang along with the chorus of the next song, “The Scientist,” Chris remarked that it was some “unbelievably good singing.”

The next song was “Yellow,” which began with Chris at the piano with his guitar strapped to his back, and immediately the crowd began to sing along with the entire song. As soon as Chris got up to play the guitar and finish the song a bit more “plugged-in,” the piano was pulled back off the stage and out of the way. I noticed the entire band’s love of color at this point, when I spotted drummer Will’s pink pants. Guitarist Jonny, too, was wearing a bright aqua color, and while Chris’ pants were black, they were painted with some kind of paint that looked like puffy paint, but might have been black light-responsive like so much of the stage set. During “Violet Hill,” the bracelets lit up again, and Chris mentioned something about “18,000 Californians in the same place,” which was answered by a roar of appreciation. Next came “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face,” where again I noted how much Chris Martin seems to really love what he does. He paused on the stage’s catwalk, a hand to one ear, a huge smile on his face as the crowd cried out even louder, and threw his guitar into the air as the song came to a close.

A man and his piano.

The next segment took place from a much smaller stage at the end of the catwalk, beginning with “Princess of China.” Rihanna’s part was played on the loudspeakers as the band played theirs live, showing her face on the big screen. From below the stage, a fantastically brightly-painted piano rose up to the small makeshift stage for “Up in Flames” and “Warning Sign.” As the band walked back down to the main stage, Chris remained at the piano to finish “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart,” and another light show began as the song concluded. “Viva La Vida” took place mostly from the main stage, but the obviously happy and hyper front man ran around the entire length of the stage and catwalk, giving attention to as many people in the crowd as he could as everyone in the audience sang along with the chorus. At this point, I literally made a note: “catching Coldplay fever from CM” because as it turns out, while I’ve always found their music to be enjoyable, it’s the undeniable, not to mention contagious joie de vivre of Mr. Martin that I couldn’t get over. As the song finished, he once again fell to the floor, on his back in the middle of the catwalk. He mimed several “attempts” at getting up, but it wasn’t until the bracelets started to flash all around him again that he “managed” to revive and get up.

What a fraction of 18,000 light-up Coldplay wristbands looks like

After “Charlie Brown,” Chris returned to the piano for the beginning of “Paradise.” The sound of nearly 20,000 voices singing along to one of my current favorite songs is one I’ll try to keep etched in my mind for years to come: it was fantastic in the way that only a band good enough to play epic arena shows can be. When it was nearly over, it was time for the fake goodbye, including “we fucking appreciate you being here! Thank you for giving us the best job in the world!” As the crowd went crazy, so did our blinking bracelets, and then all the lights went out, leaving us momentarily in blackness. When the lights came back, even the house lights came on, revealing an unexpected tiny stage up in the crowd. Chris stood there along for a moment, talking to the crowd, commenting on what an “attractive bunch of people” surrounded him, adding, “I wish we could meet you all personally to say thank you,” and apologizing for those nearest who were going to be “spat on and sweat on and stuff…” He was then joined, one by one, by the other members of the band, each to cheers of appreciation. They played “Us Against the World,” and then ran down through the crowd, back up to the main stage for “Clocks” and “Fix You” before Chris asked if we had “time for one more?” I laughed out loud, as though any of those thousands of fans would have said no to that. The final song, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” had Chris running around the stage like a kid again, spinning, jumping, and singing his face off. The house lights came up a bit as the song came to an end, and members of the band walked the lengths of the stage, applauding the crowd in a sincere gesture of appreciation. After a group bow, Chris Martin paused to kneel and kiss the stage, and then they were gone.

So there I was, having just witnessed my first live Coldplay show. I asked myself if I felt differently. No. But do I feel differently toward this band, and especially its front man? Most definitely. Did I hurry home and download all five albums? No, but I wanted to. (Today was the first chance I had to actually do it, and I did.) Did I buy a t-shirt on my way out? No. Will I be sure to pay attention from here on out to singles, albums, and tours? Yes. Because at the end of the day, any band that I’ve enjoyed steadily for more than a decade without even trying, and who sound better live than on their records, is a great band in my book. Add to all that this enthusiastic and adorably joyful front man that I couldn’t take my eyes off, and yes, I’d say I did leave as a bonafide Coldplay fan. Like I said, this show was going to make or break me as a fan, and indeed it did: thanks to Chris Martin, I caught the Coldplay fever. Finally.

Stacy Scales

California native. Word nerd. Music lover. Linguaphile. Amateur foodie. Basketball junkie. Travel enthusiast. Future therapist.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

CJ May 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I actually thought their opening act selection could have been better. I was hoping for bands that were similar to Coldplay’s sound that i would look up as i got home. Turns out one was a folk indie sound while the other was electropop with limited lyrics.

Coldplay didn’t disappoint as i thoroughly enjoyed my first concert with them. I was in 110 (1st deck-left side of the arena) and I could feel the energy from all of them despite being relatively far away. I must say it was disappointing to see many of the floor seat audience standing still for much of the concert and even more so reading CM’s blog about how some of the floor audience was looking up at the screens to see themselves when he was center stage despite being so close to him.

I had seen the The Xylobands online and they definitely played a big part in embellishing my Coldplay concert experience. Without a doubt, I will be there at their next bay area concert.

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Donna Quisenberry August 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Chris Martin has a blog? What is the address?

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