Coldplay blow roof off Rogers Arena in full Technicolour
//JJ Brewis

Coldplay, riddled in duality. They take themselves very seriously, as well as know how to enjoy every moment onstage. For a band who enters the stage to the triumphant "Back to the Future" theme, they have a lot to prove. Before even stepping foot on the massive arena-sized platform, the backdrop shone in a cinematic glow, with black lights showing the rainbow graffiti motif which has accompanied the UK group on this, the "Mylo Xyloto" era of their monumental career. Where the band previously donned sophisticated military wear for "Viva La Vida" or the sombre all-black garb for "X&Y", this time they switched it up yet again. And props to whoever is responsible for the themes and art direction here, because the "Mylo Xyloto" tour shone in full neon colour, a spectacle unlike any I'd ever witnessed before. Just before the band entered the stage, the 20,000+ wristbands, which had been mysteriously handed out by the group's street team in the lobby, all started flashing every colour of the rainbow, matching the bright hypnotic lasers and backlights onstage. For a city that rarely gets a look at the stars in the sky, the moment was exhilarating for the crowd, bonded together in a flashing pulse: the realization that we were all part of the show was a special one.

The colour bonanza hardly stopped there. Within the first half hour, the crowd would witness no less than three massive confetti cannon blasts, a plethora of neon beach balls dispensed among the crowd, and two of the band's many top-ten smash hits, "In My Place", and "The Scientist". The customized Mylo Xyloto confetti, which mimicked the symbolic iconography of the band's latest disc and incarnation, would remain splattered among the arena, including the stage, for the remainder of the performance. While confetti is a customary arena show staple, most artists have it discarded off the stage by a leaf blower moments after it lands. Vocalist Chris Martin, on the other hand, chose to frolic in the yellow and pink piles, leaping through the air and rolling about like an excited child in a flower garden. 

Openers Metronomy managed to make an impression on the half-capacity crowd, who trickled in slowly near the tail end of the London act's set. The electro-pop quartet worked the room to the best of their ability, despite obviously more familiar with club sized gigs. "It's very nice to be in such a big room," proclaimed singer-keyboardist Joseph Mount. Aside from the crowd gaping in certain spots, the outfit captured the attention of those lucky enough to catch their performance. The set was a quick introduction into the group, highlighting their diverse catalogue. It ranged from electronic trumpet solos to the slow Calypso styled drum portion of "Everything Goes My Way" at the hands of percussionist Anna Prior, who also sang the track. A lot of the set was fused together in a dark electronic-heavy tone that read similar to a more lyrical Daft Punk, like a narrative-style video game, which had me visualizing the most fashionable chase scenes possible. Metronomy came across as a younger, more video-game influenced Bloc Party, with confessional lyrics reading "I hear she broke your heart again, so now you're gonna come and see me", from their single "Heartbreaker". The band show some clear influence from Coldplay's usage of stage light trickery, with each member of the group sporting a circular light-up oversized lapel which pulsated along to the beat of the songs, like light-up hearts feeling the sensation of the music within each member of the group.

Coldplay was set on giving the audience their money's worth, and the massive hockey rink was actually perfect for the show. The acoustics lent themselves well to the songs, in Coldplay's case, that would include a full spectrum with everything from anthemic ("God Put A Smile Upon Your Face") to ballad-like ("Fix You"). Early on in the set, right before launching into the band's breakthrough single "Yellow", Martin turned to his bandmates and said "We have the best fucking job in the world, you know?", a rhetorical question he likely spurts out at every show. But who cares? He does have a point, and at least the guys seem gracious, delivering a hell of a show that is not cheap in either the set list or theatrics.

Martin proved himself a jack-of-all-trades during "Yellow", moving from keys to guitar mid-track without a hitch. The flawless transition was a perfect response to those curious of the band's popularity. At this point, Coldplay are likely in the top ten most successful bands touring today. In a live setting, Coldplay make testament that some bands get famous and successful for a reason, that reason simply being that they are good at what they do. Martin as a front man is undoubtedly charming, asking the crowd at one point "Is it really true that right now everyone in Vancouver is stoned? That makes us the perfect band for today." While not precisely the champions of stoner rock, the band's psychadelic stage show would likely be a trip for those in the crowd who partook in the '4/20' daytime festivities downtown. The remark just came off as cute and witty, where as if someone else would have said it, it would likely seem obnoxious. The magic and charm of Martin and his bandmates just somehow manages to buy them a certain je ne sais quoi, backed by some of the best pop songs of the last decade. The group's newest single, "Princess of China", was performed with a video-screen version of Rihanna, dolled up like a geisha, harmonizing with the live-action Martin.

The show would be a testament that Coldplay are not a one-trick-pony type of pop-rock group. For a portion of the set, the band moved up to the front of their catwalk-style "B stage" for a mini-set that saw drummer Will Champion temporarily abandoning his drum kit for a Kanye West-style electronic drum pad for "Up In Flames", showcasing an urban sound that fit the group quite well. Afterward, Martin, in his mis-matched neon green and orange shoelaces, plunked himself on a miniature piano for "Warning Sign", whose "I miss you" sentiment brought more than a few crowd members to tears. But just as they may be capable of making their audiences a little bit weepy, the band followed up with a little remedy to any aching heart.

Before people had a chance to wipe their cheeks, large orchestral Timpani drums were being boomed back at the regular stage, just in time for some electronic violins to chime in for "Viva La Vida". Martin met with his crowd, reaching each corner of the stage, smiling the goofiest and most genuine smile you could imagine, at one point even twirling around a red bra that had been thrown on-stage by an admirer. By the end of the song, I think it's suffice to say there was not an individual who wasn't belting along the "Ooh woah oh" hook along with not only Martin but the entire band. At the song's close, Chris Martin himself dropped to his knees and then his back, as if wounded by the sheer power of his own song. Yet again, it's somehow endearing, not obnoxious, coming from him.

Considering the spectacle of the entire production, it should have been no surprise to see Martin show up in the bleachers during the encore, with only a spotlight shining down, with the audience members in that section nearly in tears of excitement. The acoustic version of "Us Against the World" was touching, as the band members each slowly joined in the stripped-down version. As the song came to a close, the band raced back to the stage for the bombastic "Clocks", which saw the light and laser show reach new levels as the lasers became full on clouds above the stage. Believe me, I was just as confused seeing it as you are trying to picture it!

During the show, when they performed "The Scientist", the Rogers Arena crowd showed the band that they were willing to compete for who could blast the lyrics louder. With black lights and juxtaposed neon lasers looming over the stage, and Martin tinkering away at the keys, the track's lovelorn lyrics only became even more immediate than the album version, which clearly everyone in the house was well versed in. But that was the thing about this show: nearly each track was sentimental to the crowd, and with the songs came droves of personal memories which have become imbedded in these songs for many of us. The band has reached heights unseen by most artists, because their music appeals to so many different types of people. They're accessible to a point; yet still leave room for heartfelt lyrics and an artful tone, a rare combination not often met with artists of this calibre, and this paradox was showcased well in their performance.

//JJ Brewis, Editor-in-Chief
//Photos by Melissa Dex Guzman

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