In the continuing series of concerts both home and away – part 2 is Coldplay.
Now that gathering rules are loosening and stadiums are allowed to be filled again, why not take in one of your favorite bands in a city not your own? Some of the most memorable concerts I’ve attended also involved some travel.
Coldplay gets a lot of crap for being a “girls” band. Perhaps it’s Chris Martin’s wearing his heart on his sleeve that makes the boys jealous? Regardless, I think they are a terrific live band. My favorite time in their musical history revolves around the earlier days. Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head I believe, was their time of musical brilliance with the integrity of the music waning a bit after that. By the time I saw them last, live in 2008, I was a less enthusiastic fan. They started wearing matching or similar outfits and it seemed more corporate than authentic, but it was full circle back to Vegas where I had been mezmorised by them 6 years earlier. Let’s call it nostalgia.
Sept 2002 – Coldplay in Las Vegas at The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – The Coldplay concert in Vegas was unique because ‘A Rush of the Blood to the Head’ was going to be released the week of the concert. I went to Vegas thinking how’s this going to work when all we know is material from the first release, Parachutes. How can we get into the music if we haven’t heard it before?? My God, did we experience something extraordinary. The concert was at the Hard Rock Hotel off the strip. (Update 2021: The Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas no longer exists and it is now a Virgin Group Hotel. Same claim to fame as the Virgin Atlantic Group.) The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel is a very small venue. One we will never replicate with a band of such stature. Coldplay was already pretty huge in the U.K. but they were just beginning to break out here in the U.S. Once the show started, I was mesmerized. Of course they played the bigger hits from Parachutes – Shiver, Yellow & Trouble, but they were practicing the upcoming “hit” releases from A Rush of Blood to the Head. The Scientist would be the biggest hit from the new album but for me, live, Politik & Clocks stole the show and I would buy subsequent Colplay tickets just to see those live again. In future, Politik was the show opener. As the lights came on after the show my friend turned to me and said, “what the hell did we just see?” Some guy next to us heard it and said, “Yeah, I know.”
November 2002 – Coldplay in Milan – The revelation of Milan as a city worth a proper visit and the whole experience with our adventure out there was great. Most people train through Milan on their way to Lake Como and perhaps stop in Milan to see the Duomo, the Galleria and maybe the Scala, which are all an arm’s length from each other and an easy metro ride from the train station. Technically, you could do this in a couple of hours before catching your one hour train ride to Como. I can’t remember if we had the trip planned first or whether the concert in Milan dictated our trip? In either case, we decided to make Milan our base. I had been to other cities in Italy on previous trips but only spent the couple hours as described above. This time, we were able to go to the Brera area and its famous museum. This was also the first time I saw the apertivo and the buffet that comes with it. It kind of seemed American to have an all you can eat buffet, however, the “un” American thing was that you didn’t pay for the buffet, it was included with the drink! Milan is located in Lombardy but next door to the Piedmonte region and its culinary merits are often overlooked by the typical American tourist just trying to tick off famous sites. Don’t do that. Give the city some time and take a look around. So, Coldplay was scheduled to play an arena which is a bit outside the city. We took an urban train and then a taxi to get there. The concert was very memorable and I can still remember everyone singing along to all the songs. For all you Coldplay haters, there was probably an equal amount of guys and gals in attendance. It was a beautiful sing along fest and I remember sort of being in awe that everyone sang most of the songs in perfect English. The kicker of this experience was the shuttle bus melee which was to take you back to the train station. We didn’t think to reserve a taxi and this is before Uber or Lyft type services. Every time one of the shuttle busses arrived there was a sea of people scrambling to get on. In true Italian fashion, there was no line/queue! You just had to laugh. We eventually got on one of the shuttles that got you back to the metro/train station and made it safely back to our hotel in Milan.
Feb 2003 – Coldplay in Phoenix, Ford Theatre – Phoenix, Arizona is a decent size metropolitan city about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles. The last time I had been around Phoenix was to see U2 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in 1987. This time around, with a full time job and a little more funds to stay in a decent hotel, things were much more comfortable. Frankly, though, the organized, civilized structure of stateside concert going made this an “unmemorable” concert. Sure the performance was great but there was no beautiful chaos of the Italian experience.
I would subsequently also see them locally in and around the Southern California area in May 2003 – at the famous Hollywood Bowl and with the release of their album in 2005, X&Y, I would see them in my backyard, at the time, of Irvine, California.
The last time I have seen Coldplay live was in 2008 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas for their Viva La Vida tour. As I mentioned earlier for The Joint concert in 2002, that capacity was maybe 1,000, if not less and the MGM is an arena holding about 15,000. I can’t say that I don’t like Viva La Vida and it had some good tunes, but my enthusiasm for the direction of their artistry was no longer resonating with me.
Would I go see them again? Yes, especially if I can fit it in with some travel. Now that I live in Europe, the Algarve area of Portugal to be exact, it might be easier to see them soon and fit in a new city I haven’t been to somewhere on this continent. Let’s see what happens.