By Chrissy Mauck
Coldplay continued its North American tour in support of the platinum-selling album Mylo Xyloto with the first of a two-night stint at Chicago’s United Center on Tuesday, and the band wasted no time in letting the audience know they were in for an evening of sensory overload.
A nearly two-hour set kicked off with “Mylo Xyloto” and “Hurts Like Heaven,” as the wristbands handed out upon entrance suddenly sprang to life, pulsating with light and illuminating the audience in iridescent colors of pinks, oranges, blues and greens.
Cannons shot off matching confetti during the next song, “In My Place,” as frontman Chris Martin spun and skipped down a middle runway. Guitarist Jonny Buckland joined him there later in the song with Martin kneeling and leaning back to the ground, and thrusting his microphone towards Buckland’s graffiti-painted Stratocaster during his solo.
The set antics weren’t quite done, though. Laser lights cut through the audience throughout the night, with dozens of over-sized beach-ball globes dropping from the ceiling during “Lovers in Japan” accompanied by even more confetti.
Coldplay finally slowed things down with Martin taking a seat at the piano for hit ballad “The Scientist” off 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head. The crowd helped finish the song, easily drowning out a wide-eyed Martin with its volume.
Although the setlist heavily favored Mylo Xyloto, the UK rockers pulled out a few songs from Rush, including “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” The band gathered around drummer Will Champion for an extended drumroll that launched the energetic rocker, followed by Martin and Buckland taking to the runway to trade licks on their Tele and Strat, respectively. The Coldplay frontman punctuated the song in dramatic fashion by tossing his guitar high into the air and intentionally failing to catch it. (Note: It didn’t appear damaged.)
For the most part Martin kept the banter to a minimum, but midway through the set, three kids holding a sign for “Amsterdam” broke him out of his scheduled routine. The entire band had relocated to the end of the stage’s runway for what was to be an intimate three-song run of “Princess of China” and “Up In Flames” and 2002’s “Warning Sign.” But prior to kicking into “Warning Sign,” Martin hesitated and publically recognized the song request that was practically staring him smack in the face.
Although the band hadn’t played “Amsterdam” live since 2008, Martin admitted that he “didn’t want to tick anyone off.”
“Ok, here’s the deal,” he finally offered. “I’ll keep going as long as I can remember but when I stop don’t give me a hard time.”
Then after playing a few bars, he ribbed his bandmates, “Take a break, take a break, take a break. You get money for nothing!”
Martin played no more than a minute before throwing in the towel, but the audience was still delighted by the spontaneous effort.
The singer wasn’t settling for any errors a few songs later after the band returned to the main stage and blasted the arena with the anthemic hit “Paradise” as the set closer.
“I’m sorry, fucked that up,” he said during the opening instrumentation. “Let’s go again,” he directed his band, and then attacked the keyboard with venom.
The hit-single reverberated through the sold-out arena as the audience chanted the refrain, “Para-para-paradise, Oh oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh” in one of the many memorable portions of the evening.
Coldplay wasted no time returning for an encore, although Martin did pop up unexpectedly on a miniature stage located in the middle of an audience section.
“This is a song about the US and the UK combining for an Olympics sport and taking over the world,” he explained. “It’s a utopian sort of thing. This song dreams of that day.
“That’s actually a load of bullshit,” he said with a laugh. “I made it all up.”
Martin started off “Us Against the World” solo on acoustic, but one-by-one the rest of the band joined him, starting with Champion on keys, then Buckland and finally bassist Guy Berryman.
Staying at the small stage, Coldplay continued with “Speed of Sound” before dashing back to the main stage for the night’s grand finale.
Laser lights again accentuated the stage and the audience as the Brit quartet dazzled with mainstay “Clocks” and tear-jerker “Fix You.” As Buckland’s poignant guitar notes built up into the organ-filled crescendo, Martin took off sprinting down the runway, leap-frogging up and down every few steps with wild abandonment as if he was competing in his own Olympics.
Despite all the acrobatics and the second to last stop of this summer’s North American tour, Martin and company still had enough gas after the emotional “Fix You” to finish out the night with Mylo Xyloto’s upbeat electro-pop lead single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”
Coldplay At United Center Setlist (8/7/12)
1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
3. In my Place
4. Major Minus
5. Lovers in Japan
6. The Scientist
8. Violet Hill
9. God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
10. Princess of China
11. Up in Flames
12. Warning Sign
13. Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
14. Viva La Vida
15. Charlie Brown
17. Us Against the World
18. Speed of Sound
20. Fix You
21. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall