It's a rare thing in life to get the feeling that something truly epic is about to happen. In my own experience, it's a sensation that usually occurs right at the start of a major sporting event like Super Bowl XLII or Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, with sports, the outcome only matches the "epic" beginning half of the time. For every unforgettable moment like Kevin Garnett screaming "Anything is Possible!", there's at least one gut-wrenching, imperfect 18-1 record. So while "feeling" that something epic is about to happen is certainly exciting, actually "knowing" is on a completely different level.
When the first notes of "Life in Technocolor" sounded through the blackness of the Wachovia Center on Friday night, I knew that I was about to witness a truly epic performance. For me, music just doesn't get any better than Coldplay. Standing there, knowing that I was about to watch and listen to them play their biggest hits, live, two hundred feet away from me was overwhelming. As they played that first track, I literally found myself shaking from anticipation. I usually save that type of reaction for the final two mintues of a tied playoff game, but the moment just took over. It's a pretty special thing to be able to see someone who's the "best in the world" do their thing, but when that "thing" is something so near and dear to you that it's actually become a part of who you are - well that's pretty much the definition of epic.
The great thing about Coldplay concerts is that they inevitably turn into the world's biggest sing-along. From the moment the lyrics began with Violet Hill's "It was a long and dark December" the crowd followed Chris Martin note for note. Of course he gave us back the patented "Wow, you guys are in great form tonight" line that I'm sure most crowds receive, but I have a feeling he actually meant it this time. I've never been in such an electric concert environment before. As much flak as I give the city of Philadelphia and it's obnoxious sports fans, they clearly know how to take a show to the next level. There were actually a few moments where the noise in the place was bordering that of the Target Center during the 2004 playoffs. This might sound over the top, but there were more than a few times where I looked around and thought to myself, "I'm standing in the most exciting place in the entire world, right now!"
If there was one downside to the concert, it was that Coldplay "stuck to the script" the majority of the time. It kind of felt like they played most songs from beginning to end without throwing much "variation" in there. One of my most vivid memories from the Twisted Logic Tour is the band ending "Clocks" by playing the song progressively faster and faster to the point where you felt Chris Martin's fingers were going to fall off. There really wasn't much of that sort of thing this time around. The only song they truly mixed up was "Yes" where they finished it up with a mini jam-session based of that "violin"-sounding section between the verses. I personally love when bands do stuff like that and we just didn't get much of it during this show. Then again, there wasn't much time to go off on musical tangents as the band nearly played the entire "Viva La Vida" album as well as every other big song from their previous three. Coldplay managed to pack in every song that you could reasonably expect to hear at one of their concerts, pretty much ensuring that nobody walked away saing "It was good, but I wish they'd played..."
By far the highlight of the night for me was when the band decided to leave the stage and play a few songs in the middle of the crowd in the back of the arena. No, I wasn't lucky enough to be sitting in the section where they planted themselves, but something nearly as cool did take place. On their march toward the back, Coldplay just happened to take the flight of stairs right next to my seat. All four of them walked the stairs just a few feet in front of me! Chris Martin was the last in line and as he passed I pretty much jumped over two people next to me to give him a pat on the arm! I felt a little bit like a crazed teenage girl during the whole ordeal, but if you can't get amped up about encountering your favorite muscian, who can you get excited about? In the world of celebrities, my list reads Kevin Garnett at #1 and Chris Martin at #2. While this quick pat on the arm wasn't quite as satisfying as shaking hands and having a legitimate conversation with The Big Ticket, it was still pretty awesome, albeit sweaty!
Without a doubt the musical highlight of the evening was when the band returned for the encore and followed up "Politik" with "Lovers in Japan". "Lovers" just may be the best song on the new album, and the only thing that makes me debate that point is how short it is. I don't think I'll ever understand why Coldplay made the song just a verse and a chorus followed by a verse and a chorus and completely left out a bridge or one of their typical "builds" to a phenomenal finish. I've postulated that perhaps the song is so good they just didn't know where else to take it, but I still feel that they could have at least repeated the chorus again. Anyway, the song was without a doubt the best number in the entire concert. It's a song that everyone can sing at the top of their lungs, it had a great video backdrop, and during the chorus they dropped thousands of fluorescent butterflies which made for an incredible visual that almost matched the unbelievable sound we were hearing. It was just complete stimulation overload - in fact, it wouldn't shock me to find out somebody had a seizure during that song! Up until that moment, there really hadn't been a song that had been taken to a higher level. Don't get me wrong, it was an altogether amazing show, but "Lovers in Japan" just had that extra energy behind it that made everyone in the arena feel like they were a part of something special.
So that basically sums up my experience with Coldplay's Viva La Vida Tour. There probably weren't as many cool effects or sets as the Twisted Logic Tour, but when you measure the sheer volume of hits that were played this time around, there's really no comparison between the two. I personally can't wait to see where the band goes from here. They've come a long, long way from back in the day when "Yellow" was their only claim to fame and I felt like I was the only person who had even heard of them. Coldplay has become a bonafide contender for the title of "biggest band in the world" and if their trend of producing great music continues, it won't be long before they're the undisputed champions.