Three bands that had never played in Des Moines took the stage Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena, but you wouldn't have known that they were unfamiliar with our fair city. Coldplay singer Chris Martin thanked the crowd for skipping out on Winefest, writes the Des Moines Register.
Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody managed to pronounce "Des Moines" correctly (Howling Bells singer Juanita Stein wasn't as lucky, adding an "S" sound.) "If we knew how good the audience is, we'd have come a long time ago," Martin told the crowd. He even worked a line about "finally making it to Iowa" into the opening tune, "Violet Hill."
Coldplay put on a show filled with spectacle. Giant balloons floated into the 11,000-strong crowd during the band's early hit, "Yellow," exploding into a mess of confetti when band members would strike them. Martin made full use of the stage, which included two walkways extending into the audience. He sprinted around the stage during "In My Place," collapsing to his knees before finishing the song.
At one point the entire band gathered on a small portion of the walkway. Using a tiny, colorful piano and small drums to play "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," Coldplay looked like it had wandered into an elementary school music room and started a jam. It added to the slightly surreal feel of the evening. And after "Viva La Vida," the band left the stage and crossed the arena to go to a third stage. Once there, drummer Will Champion sang the acoustic-accompanied "Green Eyes."
Instead of simple projection screens, images of the band and audience were projected onto suspended orb screens, twisting and distorting each image. At one point Martin had the lights turned out and requested the audience get out cell phones for "the first Mexican cell phone wave" in the history of the arena. The crowd, of course, complied.
Some of Coldplay's darker songs seemed an odd contrast to the lively and colorful stage show. "Cemeteries of London," "42" and "Death and All His Friends" are the kind of songs you would not expect to cause a crowd of thousands to jump and wave their arms enthusiastically, but it worked. The evening was heavy on songs from the band's latest album, "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends," and its second, "A Rush of Blood to the Head." The band's recent EP, "Prospekt's March" also got some love, but fans of Coldplay's debut, "Parachutes" and 2005's "X&Y" didn't get a lot from either album.
"You know it's great when you play a concert in the Hawkeye State," Martin crooned from the tiny stage. Not long after that the band launched into the Monkees' "I'm a Believer."
It was an odd moment in a night that was full of little eccentricities. After years of skipping over Des Moines, the band brought its "A" game, and the wait seemed worth it. Before introducing Coldplay, Lightbody said it had "about the most awesome arena show you'll ever see in your lives."
Perhaps there was a bit of hyperbole in that, but after underwhelming turnout for bands like Green Day and Nine Inch Nails, it was exciting to see a Des Moines audience embrace an alternative arena act.
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