Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Coldplay Concert Experience

For those who know me, they know that I like Coldplay. For those who know me well, they know I really like Coldplay.  It's not something I have ever been ashamed of, but more so something I take pride in.  Through the years, I have taken a considerable amount of grief from friends for this passion.  There seems to be a strong sense unrest of Coldplay among the public eye.  The band even acknowledges this. Usually during the course of a concert,  lead singer Chris Martin will thank the fans for taking 'so much shit' for being a Coldplay fan. On the Presidential election election night in October 2016, I heard a commentator compare Hilary Clinton's somber supporters faces, in the midst of losing the election, to a Coldplay concert. Needless to say, I considered that more of a polar opposite comparison. I'm not sure where this strong dislike formed, but to each his own. So I write not to persuade the anti-Coldplay folk out there to turn from the dark side into some really awe inspiring light, but more in attempt to capture memories that stand out from the Summer of 2016.

Prior to the summer of 2016, I had seen Coldplay twice; 2009 in Birmingham and 2012 in Atlanta. Both concert experiences were incredible and unique to their own, riveting and memorable. So with Coldplay coming out with a new album in 2016, opening for the Superbowl, and the rumor swirling that a recently announced tour could be their last last tour; this was a opportunity I had to jump on. After reviewing the tour schedule, there was nowhere close to the southeast where the band would be playing, so I picked a city where you could build a successful weekend around around, Chicago.

I made the journey up to the windy city with my sister. We ate, walked the city, and ate more leading up to the Saturday show at Soldier Field. As we made our way towards the concert, the skies begin to darken, a strong wind began to gust. Shorly after walking into the stadium a heavy rain began to kick fall.  A strong band of storms crossed downtown Chicago seemingly focused over the center of Solider Field.
A summer storm fixated over the heart of Chicago at the most imperfect time

As we waited under cover and the rain began to come down harder and harder, the thought seemed to become more a reality of whether the show would be canceled. Coldplay was playing a follow up Sunday evening show at Soldier Field, so why not nix the Saturday night mess and save it all for Sunday? It was an empty feeling at the time knowing the weekend was planned around this Saturday night apex, and it might not happen.

Thankfully my thoughts of self-pity were proved wrong. The skies cleared, at least for the time being,  and a influx of people scrambled to their seats while a seemingly equally as large influx tried to prepare the stage and surrounding area for the band to be able to go on.  Both openers were cancelled, but who really came to Solider Field  to see the openers on this summer Saturday night.

Close to their original projected start time, Coldplay went on. Solider Field lit up in the midst of a passing storm, which became clearer as the night went on that we were in a temporary break from the storm cells in the area. The band opened with ' A Head Full of Dreams' the title song off their new album and Chris Martin raced the course of the stage as the song hit it's crescendo, providing foresight that the Chicago patrons where in for a epic Saturday night.

The band mixed in new songs with classics like 'Yellow", 'Viva la Vida' and 'Fix You' all the while the crowd swaying and lighting up in the Chicago Summer sky. At one point they played a rendition of 'Sweet Home Chicago' and 'Heroes' as a tribute to David Bowie. A large part of what makes Coldplay such a great show is their ability to engage and captivate an audience and make everyone at the show, front row or back, feel like an important part of the audience. The combination of performance ability and musical talent has helped them transpire into the band they have become today.

Coldplay shows are vibrant in color and energy as much as they are in music.

As the show progressed, the band did not waist time between songs. They knew they had a small window to get their act in.  Before long, the wind picked up and shortly there after the rain began to fall again. And then it began to fall hard. Despite the increased level of rain, no one seemed to move from their seat and the show carried on. As the rain continued to pickup,  the band gathered in center stage and looked for guidance on if they could continue. Puddles on the stage and across the stadium were quickly forming into small lakes.

The band received guidance for one more song and played probably the most memorable songs at a concert I have ever been a part of. Through the sideways rain, the band carried on through 'Sky Full of Stars' as if it was 70 degrees and Sunny with the energy of the stadium carrying them the whole time.

As the song finished, the band announced that was it and  quickly cleared the stage. Seemingly so did did anyone not under cover. Did I mention we were under cover? A second line of storms had moved in and turned the stadium into a monsoon. For some time we waited and watched as Soldier Field was swallowed by rain.

Fans seeking cover during as a second storm system cut the show short. 

 As we were walking out of the show I commented to my sister that I was going to go see the band again sometime that summer to get the full experience since they cut the show short. She probably didn't think anything of it, but what a better time than through this blog post eight months later to tell her that I followed through on my word.

A few weeks later, that experience happened in the confines of Tulsa, Oklahoma. To say it was spontaneous would be an understatement. After not too much persuasion, I found a confidant to join. Small city, cheap flight, a few hotel points and we were good to go. The show was indoors and they got their full set list in. Mission Accomplished.  Plus, who wouldn't  want to see the hometown of the hit teen band Hanson and be able to say they  have seen a Coldplay show in Tulsa, Oklahoma? I know of two. One of the best parts of the show for me was the band reflecting how the audience reminded them of where they came from in their earlier years, and while they play major stadium shows, they appreciate the audiences in smaller venues just as much as the larger ones.

As I reflect on the two respective shows, I realize the Coldplay concert experience is all about who you experience it with. Yes, their show will make you sing, dance, maybe send a few chills down your spine with the right attitude; if it doesn't make you smile then you probably walk around with coal in your shoes. But at the end of the day what good would their concert experienced as a single individual?  This concert experience is only as good as the people you experience it with.

Post Coldplay round 1 in Chicago, slightly drenched

Pre Coldplay Round 2, dry this time, and in good company

Thanks for giving me so much shit for being a Coldplay fan. At the end of the day, we're all going to get it together.

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