Coldplay delighted fans in Exeter as the city played host to their final gig of the decade, writes the Express & Echo today. The one-off event was a homecoming concert for frontman Chris Martin, who was brought up in Whitestone, just outside Exeter.
Music lovers had travelled from as far away as Italy and Australia for the Mencap Big Noise charity concert at Exeter Castle, with an audience of just 500 guests, including friends and family of the band. Others had queued for up to two days to buy tickets for the hotly anticipated gig. The star-studded event was organised by Radio One DJ Jo Whiley, who compered the evening, and featured electric-pop duo La Roux as the support act.
Among Chris Martin’s guests were his parents Anthony and Alison Martin. After the concert, dad Anthony told the Echo: “It was lovely to see Chris play in his hometown. It was a superb evening and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I spoke to Chris afterwards and he also had a really good time, along with the rest of the band. It was fantastic to see everybody leave happy and with a smile on their face.”
During the set, singer Chris spoke of his “great pleasure” at performing in front of a small crowd of loyal fans in Exeter. And he thanked the Echo for its support, adding: “Of all the things we’ve ever achieved, I think that getting on the front page of the Express & Echo was right up there.”
Event organiser and Radio One DJ Jo Whiley said she was delighted with the result of a year spent planning it with Chris Martin, though it is not yet known how much the concert raised for Mencap. And she said the band clearly enjoyed themselves, adding: “I have never seen the band so happy and relaxed. This is the last thing the band is going to do for a long time and it was right they did it here.”
Singer Lily Allen was originally lined up to perform at Saturday’s concert but had to pull out at the last minute due to illness. This created an opening for Tiverton Town Band to perform instead. Baritone player Leah Ellis, 26, said: “We heard an appeal on Radio Devon on Saturday morning for a replacement act and jumped at the chance. It’s amazing. We never thought we would be supporting Coldplay.”
Among the audience members was city singer Ellie Williams, who currently has an NSPCC charity single Fin’s Song in the charts. She said: “I thought the gig was absolutely amazing, it completely blew me away. It was a very bizarre experience as the audience for such a huge band was so small. It was weird to hear the band playing songs you know so well and see them standing right in front of you. They had a real presence on stage.” She added: “I was so excited when my husband rang to tell me he had managed to get tickets online, it was an amazing surprise and has really made my Christmas.”
Guy Wadsworth, of Exeter Castle Partnership which owns the site, said: “The gig went very well and we’re glad it happened. Everyone seemed happy, so I think it was a huge success.”
Pictures of Coldplay at Mencap's Big Noise Sessions, Exeter Castle, Exeter, UK (19 December 2009):
More photos are available to view here [thanks sar74]