Coldplay has been my favorite band since 2011, when I was in eighth grade. On August 1st 2016, I saw them live in concert.
Dreams really do come true.
I’ve been burning to see them live since Mylo Xyloto. The Xylobands, the butterfly confetti. Sweaty Chris slinging his arm around Jonny, praising handsome Guy, and harmonizing with Will. Most of all, I wanted the haunting, powerful “Viva la Vida” chant.
Somber, aching Ghost Stories came and passed with its intimate and starry performances. I watched their live clips on YouTube and prayed on every birthday candle. I feared it would never happen. The band was aging (and declining), and they haven’t touched upstate New York in years.
A Head Full of Dreams, fittingly named.
On the car ride to the venue with my friend Priyanka and her brother, I kept saying “I’m so excited, I’m so excited,” but it still felt so impossible even as I studied a setlist I found online. I had been to two concerts so far, both at the same local venue with general floor admission. This was my first concert in a stadium with reserved seating.
We missed most of the first opener, Foxes, but found our Club second-level seats by the time Alessia Cara settled into her second song. I had “studied” her album Know it All during the week, and I seriously can’t tell you how much better she sounds live. Her voice was so powerful, unfazed by pitch jumps in “Overdose” and so chilling and piercing when she sang “I thought that you would be the hero, come and save the day. But you’re the villain.” She was just amazing. All the while the famous Xyloband lay on my wrist. It looked so plain and white, I could barely believe it was merely asleep, not dead, about to wake up at any moment.
Coldplay announced their arrival through an opera song, and I’m still not sure why. “Oh my God I’m definitely gonna cry,” Priyanka insisted.
“Oh, me too,” I assured. All the Coldplay bloggers on Tumblr said they did. And I always imagined losing my shit during Yellow, or The Scientist, or especially Viva la Vida. But for the other performances I’ve been to, the tears I expected never came. I was half-convinced that I got too excited during concerts to cry.
But then the arena was plunged into darkness and the center screen fizzled into homemade video clips from Coldplay fans around the world. It was the most touching universal declaration of adoration and affection, squeezing my heart and making me think nothing but I love this band I love this band I love. Despite my new musical interests, they remain important to me because they uplift and steady me during my worst and most distraught moments.
“I’m gonna cry!” Priyanka said again, turning to me to see my pouched corneas, held back but dangerously brimming over my lashes. “Are you already crying?”
“A little,” I blubbered as the clips closed to blackness again. Suddenly, the excited roar of the crowd rose to hysteria as my wrist and the world lit up rose-red. The sea of a thousand ruby flecks smeared in my vision.
I whimpered as the pure notes of Jonny’s guitar burst through “A Head Full of Dreams” shimmery intro. This is actually happening. Then Chris skipped onto the extended walkway and we lost it. My breath hitched again because he was so real, he was right there, just spinning around, a real person, my heroes. I could not cheer or sing along. I had no breath.
The song ended with Chris singing “dreams!“, and a shimmering rainbow of confetti showered over the crowd. Then it was dark again, and we were all rainbow sprinkles in black frosting. Then we were all tennis-ball green. Chris had his acoustic in hand and started “Yellow.”
That whole opener was probably the best part of the night and possibly a highlight of my life. After swallowing the last sob — God bless waterproof eyeliner — I was happy and stable for the rest of the night. If stable means grinning maniacally and squealing and pointing at the screens whenever Guy appeared. But yeah — stable.
I’ll take this part, after that awesome moment, to say one thing: the people sitting around us were lame as shit. Literally the sections next to us, below us, and probably above us were on their feet the second the first song started. Our lame as shit section was seated for almost the entire thing. In venues like this, people are urged to stand when the rows in front of them do. We were the second row of the section, and the first row was somehow full of mildly-disinterested teenagers. Two of them casually had their feet up the whole time. What a waste?? And when Priyanka and I stood during an early song, some crotchety old man behind us told her to sit down. Honestly. It’s a concert, not a movie screening!
I was pretty satisfied just dancing in my chair until I finally got fed up and stood during “Hymn for the Weekend.” After that mostly everyone stood for the rest of it, anyway.
More highlights. I screamed like a little bitch when Chris pulled out an American flag during “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” I might have cried more during “The Scientist” if Chris wasn’t so humping the piano chair so enthusiastically like that.
Okay I lied a little about being “stable,” because I almost lost it again when Chris took a break between songs for his first little speech. His slightly drawled, completely adorable British accent reminded me again that he was real and right there and my hero, and so nice and appreciative. The most exciting thing about this part was that he announced that Coldplay would perform in Canada next summer! That means another album, right??
I was always so constantly afraid that the pounding BUM BUM BUM BU BUM BUM of “Viva la Vida” would come out of nowhere and possibly kill me, since of course I had already forgotten the setlist order I’d stared at for hours. I felt that anticipation when Chris said in his shamelessly excited voice “I don’ wanna stop I don’ wanna stop, Will, let’s go let’s go let’s go!” But instead they hit us with the loudest and most disorienting EDM remix I had ever heard in my life. It was wild.
When they moved onto the C-stage for some Ghost Stories-type songs, the older woman beside me turned and asked, “Would you like to see them?” She offered us her pair of binoculars, and we could see so far that they looked close enough to touch.
“That’s so cool, thank you,” I said as I returned them.
She rose her brows. “Gwyneth Paltrow is so stupid,” she said firmly.
I laughed awkwardly (because I was caught off guard), but a second later I had to ask for the binoculars back because Guy was killing the riff in “Magic,” and it was super hot.
Admittedly, when listening to AHFOD, I wasn’t very into “Everglow.” However, Chris brought so much tenderness to his live performance, I felt instantly transported to his heartbroken, recently-divorced mindset. It felt like he was remembering Gwyneth with every note, a sentiment I somehow missed when listening to the recording.
That slow, somber segment was beautiful, but the next section was lit. They nailed their greatest hits: Clocks, Charlie Brown, Hymn for the Weekend, Fix You. And of course: “Viva la Vida.”
I had fantasized about seeing VLV live for so long that the real thing was pretty surreal. I went ham. I have to say that in my visions I did not get out of breath so quickly. I also wish they lingered on the chant, like they did in their 2012 live album, instead of jumping straight into “Adventure of a Lifetime.” But still. The energy of it — from Chris, from Will nailing that bell, from the frenzied audience — probably made it my second highlight of the night.
At this point in the concert I was obviously enjoying myself, but chilled with the disturbing thought that I had watched too many of their concerts online to be truly astonished. Like, I could sing along with the little voice inflections that Chris reserved for live performances. Luckily, when the band migrated to a small platform among the audience (across the arena from us, sadly), they did not disappoint.
They sang “Green Eyes,” which I did not expect in a million years. They sang “In My Place” and I screamed like a dying banshee. I hadn’t spied it on any recent setlists and it happens to be my #1 go-to jam for a shitty day. And then Chris introduced the band members and made a thousand jokes. I was melting.
I had been anticipating”Til Kingdom Come” with bated breath and it still 1000% exceeded my expectations. First of all, Chris and Will harmonizing is just the best, and I somehow never knew that Guy played the harmonica part during that song.
BUT THEN, ANSWERING MY MOST FERVENT PRAYERS, CHRIS MESSED UP THE LYRICS, AND THE CUTEST APOLOGY AND JOKE ENSUED. THIS WAS PROBABLY THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.
Sadly there were only three songs after that, none quite as magnificent as the preceding performance (“A Sky Full of Stars” was lit as fuck, though). I don’t even wanna talk about it ending. Here’s a picture of all the stuff I got from the concert. Everything was “free” except for the $40 shirt, my new pajamas and favorite article of clothing. I didn’t give two shits about the price, honestly. After that performance I would’ve fought on a battlefield for Coldplay.
Thanks for reading my long ramble about this concert. I am so thankful that this band is in my life and that I got to see them with my own two eyes. Who knows if I’ll see them again, but I do know that I’ll be happy for a very long time. I only hope that you’ve felt this way, too.
All photos are mine unless otherwise stated (from tumblr)
Comment below your favorite concert experience/who you really want to see!