Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coldplay at the United Center

Last night my husband and I were lucky enough to have been invited to enjoy the Coldplay concert at the United Center from box seats. If you imagine the stage being set up at the 12 position on a clock, our seats were in between the 4 and the 5 and just above the first raised section of stadium seating. I looked up at the poor souls who were where we were for the previous tour and felt a twang of pity-- three rows from the top of the arena and behind the stage is no place from which to see any concert. I'm glad that those bad memories have now been replaced with last night's experience.

We missed the first opening act, but saw most of Santogold, a reggae-sounding rapper from Brooklyn--she was pretty good. The Powers That Be at the United Center informed everyone that Coldplay would be filming during the show, so they turned off all of the TVs and lights in the boxes and everywhere else. All that did was make you realize how many people had cell phones, PDAs and camera phones, because screens were lit up all over the place for the duration of the concert. Technology: a blessing and a curse.

The other thing I just HAVE to mention before I get into the music itself was this totally crazy woman who was in front of us (in the first normal row of seats below the box) who "danced" non-stop the entire time. Luckily we were high enough that we could still see over her (though it should be mentioned that the rest of the stadium was on its feet for the full 2.5 hours the band played...). But I felt really, really badly for the young guy standing next to her. She was one of those people who had absolutely no rhythm, yet flailed about wildly to every single song, even the slow ones. I mean, she was totally hitting the dude to her left constantly (no one was on her right), and if I were him, I definitely would've resorted to violence. Instead, he kept looking back at us and making faces, as if to ensure we knew she wasn't with him. She appeared to be by herself, didn't have a drink in her hand and didn't move from her seat until the encore, so it's not like she was sucking down alcohol the entire time. All I could figure was that: 1) she just loved the music and wanted to express herself in that unfortunate way, 2) was hopped up on some sort of speed/crack/whatever, or 3) drank a lot before getting in her seat. People like this always seem to sit by me at concerts, I can't figure it out.

OK, so onto the band... Coldplay opened with, appropriately, the first song on Viva La Vida, "Life in Technicolor." I will list the entire set they played in the comments section so as to not ruin it for anyone who's catching them later in the tour... but be forewarned that I am going to comment on a few specific performances...

...Such as the fifth song they played, "Viva La Vida." I thought it was totally bizarre that they chose to place perhaps the most high-energy track in their repertoire in between two slow songs, and really didn't have any special effects going on during it or anything. At the end of last week, Coldplay performed VLV outside in some park in L.A.--broadcast live on The Tonight Show--and they had confetti bursting out of the stage to the beat and whatnot, but there was none of that in the show last night for this same song. I had been positive that they would either open or close with VLV, so I thought its placement at the end of the first third of the concert was not well thought-out.

Their stage set-up was pretty typical, but had two jutting "arms" that went out into both sides of the audience on the floor. Throughout the show there were also anywhere from one to six large orbs suspended from the ceiling, upon which various things were projected--sometimes a live feed from the stage and at other times still images or random videos. At other times they just glowed... guess what color they were during "Yellow"? About half-way through the night a huge screen rose up behind the band which greatly helped everyone be able to see the guys more clearly. While Chris Martin did his trademarked hop-dancing at several times throughout the night, the other guys pretty much just stayed in their spots. I must say that Mr. Paltrow was lookin' mighty fine, too... his hair was not too short and not too poofy. Why, oh, why is he married to her?!?!

By far the coolest part of the night, to me, was when all four band members finished up a song, jumped down from the stage, and then continued running through the stadium (followed by spotlights) and up a flight of steps and out an exit, like they were hightailing it to go get some hot pretzels or something. After they disappeared, everyone was like, "What just happened?" Then a few moments later they re-appeared on a small landing right in the middle of the crowd. If I had been in any of those seats nearby I would've been freaking out. They proceeded to whip out guitars, plug them in and perform "The Scientist" right there. I loved it.

I should also mention that between the show I was at last night and the one held the previous night (also at the United Center), they attempted to film their video for "Lost!". As you may remember from my write-up on the Viva La Vida CD, I liked the "Lost?" version of this song much better, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. They obviously plan to release "Lost!" on the radio as they've been performing it on late-night talk shows and now have filmed the video. Look for me when it comes out! I had on a gray shirt. You'll totally see me.

FINALLY we got some confetti (though it kind of slowly floated down from the ceiling rather than shooting from the stage) during the second-to-last number, "Lovers in Japan," which was accompanied by a hectic montage of images that fit the lyrics on the big screen behind the stage. When it was all said and done, the stage and stadium were blanketed with a rainbow of small colored paper bits. I'm sure the clean-up crew cursed the day Coldplay came onto the scene.

All in all, while I thought their arrangement of the set list was not ideal and some of the lighting effects temporarily blinded many people in the audience, Coldplay did put on a great show and I'm so happy that I got to go and observe them once again from a proper angle. Nothing will beat seeing them at the much more intimate Aragon Ballroom in the summer of 2001 before they became really popular... but now they have four albums to pick and choose from and I sang my heart out along with them for 2.5 hours, which I can't say I was able to do seven years ago.

If you see them on tour this year, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I did, and be sure to let me know if they played any different songs in the main set or in the encore.

- e


Erika (aka "e") said...

Here is what Coldplay, um, played at the show I saw:

1) Life in Technicolor
2) Violet Hill
3) Clocks
4) In My Place
5) Viva La Vida
6) Yes
7) 42
8) Fix You
9) Strawberry Swing
10) Chinese Sleep Chant--They did this one with all four of them out on the far tip of the arm that jutted out into the crowd.
11) A fast version of God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (a second orb appeared at this point)
12) Speed of Sound (this is where multiple orbs were lowered from the ceiling)
13) Yellow
14) Lost! performed twice for the videotaping
15) The Scientist performed in the middle of the crowd
16) The drummer, Will, sang Death Will Never Conquer, still in the middle of the crowd
17) Now back on stage... they had the music only for Talk while a but of political images were on the orbs, and then they launched into Politik
18) Lovers in Japan
19) Death and All His Friends
20) The Escapist played as a track as they were taking bows and leaving the stage.

Encore was very bizarre...
21) Some song that's not out yet that was like a jig or something, I think they said it was called The Dublinist (but I'm probably wrong). I didn't like it.
22) Green Eyes, which I was shocked about, since I heard it was about Chris's ex, Natalie Imbruglia, and that they therefore hardly ever play it live (it was not played the other two times I saw them).

As I said, kind of a weird line-up and an even weirder ending, but a great show nonetheless.

- e

Zach Dionne said...

Is the picture of him at the piano by you? Or Googled?

Erika (aka "e") said...

We weren't THAT close, unfortunately. It was Googled.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about proposing during an upcoming Coldplay concert! Is there a specific time/song that you think this would be most appropriate during? I want it to be special but probably not super early on in the concert and at the same time I don't want to wait too long and then have "a weird ending" set of songs and not have an appropriate song to do it during. Any advice or help (and why) would be very much appreciated and thanks for your review!

Erika (aka "e") said...

Hi there Silverok75... Wow, that's quite a plan you are hatching!

Here's my take, as both a Coldplay fan and a woman who was very much caught by surprised when she was proposed to... I think you should either do it during "Yellow" (which, as I think I mentioned in my post, was our wedding song) or reconsider waiting until the end of the show.

Here's my reasoning:

1) All of the other songs are either too quick-tempo'd or have not-so-romantic words. Seriously, listen to the words of the slower songs - they're not necessarily about love. "Yellow" is the only one that seems appropriate, and even that is a little extreme, I admit ("for you I bleed myself dry"?)

If you do it during "Yellow" or at any other point before the end, I think that you might as well write off the rest of the concert. Neither of you will be able to concentrate from that point onward (and you probably won't no matter what that night, but think of your future financee!). : ) Not that that's a bad thing, but I don't see the harm in waiting until the end.

If she has green eyes, I think you might as well wait to see if they play that one at the end and then do it during that. If she doesn't and if you also don't want to do it during "Yellow," then I would just wait until the end, see what they play for the encore, and if you don't like the song, I would use some excuse to pull her away and propose as your own special grand finale. If you're in the crowd it might be tough and you don't want to get knocked and have the ring go flying! If you're in a box then it will be easily to steal her to a slightly more private area.

Another option is to do it between the end of the main show and the encore. That way, you've seen all of the show, there's a pause in the action, and then you'll both be so excited that it won't matter what they play for the encore.

There are my thoughts - so now you have to check back in after you do it and let me know how it went! When exactly is the concert?

One last thought - you could try to write in to the Coldplay web site (not even sure if there's an email address on there, but you could look) and explain your plan (assume it will be a band manager or other business-type that will read the email). There IS a chance they will respond to you and help you plan something a little more extravagant, although I do think that it is a long-shot. I know a few not-as-famous artists, like Sia, who have participated in things like this. It's worth a try, right?

GOOD LUCK! I'm sure it will be wonderful - you really can't go wrong!

- e

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response and ideas e! I checked out Coldplay's site and I didn't really find an email link or anything like that but I did find a section where you could ask "the Oracle." It's clearly someone with inside info and direct contact with the band and so I repeated my question there and we'll cross our fingers for something a bit more extravagant!

If not, I think the song "Yellow" was an excellent suggestion. The concert is November 3rd in Detroit FYI. :)

I'll make to sure to keep you updated with any Oracle response (hopefully!!) and the final decisions/results of course. Like you said, it's really a win-win situation, and we have amazing tickets so it should be a wonderful night no matter what. Thanks again for your thoughts and help!

Anonymous said...

So, last night went just perfectly! I waited it out till they played Yellow (which was their encore song for the night - eek!). She was shocked and surprised but managed to nod yes and the crowd around us went crazy. Thanks again for the ideas and support e! (There was no response from "The Oracle" or Coldplay's email address - I wouldn't have had the night go any other way though.) :)

Erika (aka "e") said...

I was thinking of you as I flew back from Hawaii yesterday -- hoping all that would go well, and I'm so glad to hear that it did! I can't believe you had to wait it out until the encore -- I bet you were sweating!

: )

Congrats! What a wonderful memory you'll both have of the night...

- e