Expectations ran high among the more than 10,000 people who paid an equally high price to watch British superband Coldplay performed in Singapore on Monday. Ticket prices for the sold-out gig ranged from S$88 to $249 and, according to several Indonesians who flew in especially for the concert, it was time and money well spent.
Because Coldplay delivered on those expectations. With four successful albums under their belts, they had no problem delivering hit after hit during their two-hour show, entertaining a stadium full of hysterical fans, from young teenage girls to gentlemen in their 50s.
An hour after Mercury Rev opened the show at about 8:15 p.m., the Coldplay members - lead singer Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion - jumped onto the stage. They appeared behind a thin black screen carrying sparklers across the stage, wearing their signature cavalry-inspired outfits, and kickstarted the show with an instrumental version of "Life in Technicolor".
When the black screen dropped, the fans turned up the screaming by several decibels, and they launched into another number from their Viva La Vida album, "Violet Hill". Then, as the stage turned red and red lasers beamed across the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Chris Martin hit the piano and the band began playing "Clocks" from A Rush of Blood to the Head. The lanky Chris Martin strutted down the left-hand runway, drawing a surge of picture-taking frenzy and photo flashes, when performing one of their "cult" songs from the same album, "In My Place". Then, as one of their early hits, "Yellow", came up, giant yellow balloons started rolling among the audience.
With the venue lit up in a bright yellow light, the whole production set came into clearer view, showing the huge stage for the four-piece band and their extra instruments - including a piano, a keyboard, a drum and an old TV as also seen in their music videos - a long runway on each side of the stage, a giant screen on the stage backdrop and a few more hanging above the audience, and huge light orbs, on which the act was projected, hanging above the stage and around the stadium.
The band played nearly all the songs from their Viva La Vida album, as well as some new pieces from their EP, Prospekt's March. Martin showed off his vocal power while singing "42" as he pretended to be out of breath at the last note but then dragged it out for what seemed like forever (and kept his eye on his watch while doing so). "Postcards From Far Away", a piano instrumental by Chris Martin, led into the intro to the familiar strings sound of their biggest hit ever, "Viva La Vida", which had the whole stadium on their feet. And of course a Coldplay concert could not be complete without earlier hits such as "Fix You", "Politik", "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and "The Scientist", which the band presented smoothly. The crowd danced, jumped and screamed to each of the more than 24 of Coldplay's all-time favorite songs covered at the concert.
The naturally entertaining Chris Martin charmed the audience with his jokes, teasing his band mates and thanking the audience, acknowledging all those who flew in from overseas.
The production team behind the concert smartly injected surprise elements, to the delight of the audience, such as sending out a shower of colorful paper butterflies during "Lovers in Japan" while Martin sashayed down the runway swinging a Japanese paper umbrella. A surprise act came after the performance of "Lost!": The boys made their way through the audience to a small "stage" in the middle of the bleachers area, welcomed by the stunned audience who reached out trying to touch the guys. The quartet belted out acoustic versions of "Speed of Sound", a rendition of The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" and "Death Will Never Conquer" sung by drummer Will Champion. Martin joked that he had become the band's lead singer after losing a game of Monopoly to decide who would be the frontman "to take all the abuse, the drugs and that sort of thing". "Life in Technicolor ii" closed the show but left the audience wanting more.
Even if you took out the giant balloons, laser shows and shower of butterflies, the concert proved that what Coldplay really offers is just a plain good music. The band does deserve its Grammies.
Pictures: Hoong Wei Long