I went to see Coldplay’s first of two shows at GM Place last night. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.
I’m trying not to be a concert snob about the whole thing, but I see a lot of concerts, and I know pretty well what most venues in town are capable of offering in terms of an enjoyable experience. And Coldplay could’ve done a whole lot better than they did. I daresay, I could’ve produced a better show myself.
First off, the sound was terrible. I’ve heard opening bands sound clearer in that venue. I can give some leniency on that one, because a concrete arena is never a great place for acoustics. But even putting that aside, Chris Martin’s vocals were obviously flat, and his piano was obviously sharp. Also, a huge strength of Coldplay’s music is the amazing instrumental nuances they weave through the tunes. Unfortunately, banging and thrashing those out as hard as possible, in a giant concrete tomb, means all we can hear is BRRRRRRRRRRRRR as the noise reverberates and echos off all available surfaces.
Ok, so maybe I was expecting too much in the way of musical genious from an arena show. So instead I’ll focus on the stage presence and showmanship. I can sum that up in two words: HALF ASSED. They could’ve done so much more than they did with the light/graphic setup they had. Examples:
-The show started with their LCD screen being lit up bright white, and a digital clock counting down the seconds. The song peaked (can’t recall which tune they started with – not Clocks), some blinky light stuff happened, the clock started counting up. After that first song, we never saw the clock again. What was the point?
-During the song Yellow, they dropped about a dozen giant yellow balloons on to the crowd, which were filled with gold sparkles, so they looked kinda cool when they popped. But it would’ve looked SO much better if the room was full of say, yellow light. Instead of basic white (which comprised about 85% of the show lighting, just white lights, up)
-There were a couple light-up squares on the front projection of the stage. They were used twice. Why not light up the whole thing? Why not use them more?
-Chris Martin’s piano was a black upright, with three small neon green lights on the side. Light that whole mofo up! Take a page from Elton and make it a bright red grand piano! Make fireworks shoot out the top of it or something!
-It did not help that the entire band was wearing black shirts and pants, with white shoes. They completely blended into their stage/set. And while I’m not going to pass judgement on the white shoes, I will say that I don’t totally disagree with my friend Jay’s sentiment that “White shoes are for two kinds of people: Nurses, and Mental Patients.”
-Speaking of the set… it was dark. Black everything, and one curved video screen at the back. No height was used, and the video displays, while neat, were nothing I haven’t seen at every concert I’ve been to since 1996. Not what I’d expect from a band that I’ve heard compared to U2 in energy and showmanship.
-There was ONE cool light effect during the whole show. That was when they put a rainbow refraction effect over the whole crowd, and had the album art from X&Y running across the LCD screen. I enjoyed that. What I did NOT enjoy, was the fact they did that during Clocks, which is one of their hits, but not from the X&Y Album! A great opportunity to solidify the show, totally wasted.
I could go on and pick the rest of the show apart, but I think you get the gist.
Bottom line, there was not only nothing impressive, but there was no theme or continuity to their stage show, which is absolutely essential in a stadium show, where the artist wants to reach the person in the top row at the very back, just as much as the person front row centre.
I’d love to see Coldplay in a small venue, but in terms of stadium shows, I’d say they’ve got a lot to learn before I’ll ever pay stadium show prices to see them again.