tue 27/02/2024

Coldplay, Hampden Park, Glasgow review - a pop spectacle for all ages | reviews, news & interviews

Coldplay, Hampden Park, Glasgow review - a pop spectacle for all ages

Coldplay, Hampden Park, Glasgow review - a pop spectacle for all ages

The indie band's transformation into wild stadium pop is complete

Coldplay strike a pose, without any puppetsJames Marcus Haney

It is a testament to Coldplay’s capacity for reinvention that a good portion of this stadium crowd were not even born when the band first broke through over two decades ago. Such an age range in the audience clearly caught the eye of Chris Martin, who, in a rare moment of standing still, dryly noted that he owns trousers older than some of the people singing along.

That admission preceded one of the night’s deepest cuts with “Sparks”, a fragile piece of indie from their debut album Parachutes, and a track that seemed unrecognizable next to the gargantuan pop that populated the majority of this set. Had you suggested back in 2000 that the unassuming indie quartet would have transformed into such a spectacle heavy act that fireworks, confetti cannons and dazzling lights were the night’s run of the mill aspects then advice to ease up on drinking would have probably followed.

And yet here we are, with Martin and his unassuming if cheerful looking bandmates providing a show that never let up visually. Ironically, given a regular criticism of the group tends to focus on them being dull, the gig possessed an abundance of ideas, from traditional stadium gimmicks like performing on a mini stage to the deeply strange, such as Martin duetting with a puppet that was supposed to be an alien during “Infinity Sign”.

The most effective, as on prior tours, was the glowing wristband audience members were given, which exploded into colour and light throughout. It is a genuinely stirring visual to see so many thousands lit up, bouncing along to the energetic “Adventure of a Lifetime” as giant balls were flung across the Glasgow crowd, or, inevitably, the yellow backdrop that accompanied their breakthrough hit, here repurposed into a holler to the heavens chant-a-long.

It was a relentless barrage of concepts, with BTS appearing on big screens for “My Universe”, arguably the poppiest Coldplay have ever sounded, and the group donning alien costumes for the surprisingly effective dance vibe of a reworked “Midnight”. If last year’s “Music of the Spheres” was a record that made no bones about seeking chart success than this was a suitable culmination of that, as each super-sized tune felt built for such a large venue.

At times, it was all too much though, and you wanted the band to let the songs breathe by themselves without hitting you over the head. If a tune like the show opening “Higher Power” is a deft piece of power pop than the bombastic “Humankind”, complete with fireworks display, tried so hard for modernity you half expected Martin to sing ‘how do you do, fellow kids’ over the beat, while their Chainsmokers team-up “Something Just Like This” remains easily disposable.

Martin bounded around with the excitement of a talking animal in a Disney cartoon, and for all that some of his proclamations were laced with cheesy earnestness, he is an undeniably excellent frontman. His continual glee helped provide a centrepoint to the show, while there was a sweetness to his evident joy when the legendary Edwyn Collins appeared for a run through of 90s classic “A Girl Like You”, snapping out the lyrics as Martin beamed and Jonny Buckland delivered the distinctive riff with relish.

Simpler moments like that stayed in the mind, from Martin sheepishly tripping over the key change near the end of “In My Place”, to the powerfully abrasive “Politik” that drummer Will Champion let loose on. It may be simple statements, but a rousing “The Scientist” and the tearjerker pop of the encore’s “Fix You” possess a direct emotional heft that reaches out, whether to the middle aged couples swooning, the teenage girls screaming or the group of lads disappearing into the humid night still carrying a giant inflatable ball from earlier. Shorn of gimmickry, they hit home hardest without any puppetry needed.

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