Coldplay and its 'Head Full of Dreams Tour', the highest grossing concert tour of the year ($144 million so far), burst into Arlington's AT&T Stadium Saturday night with lights, love, lasers and good vibes. The U.S portion, with 22 concerts — sadly none in Houston, will wrap on September 3 in San Francisco before continuing on to Australia and New Zealand.
Entering the stage to a stadium packed with mostly 30-to-50 year olds, the band launched into title track "A Head Full of Dreams" in a jaw-dropping display of color, confetti, fireworks and a light show generated by lasers as the audience waved LED wrist bands that changed colors depending on the song. Without pausing for the crowd to catch its breath, lead singer Chris Martin quickly moved into "Yellow," its first U.S. hit, accompanied by hundreds of yellow balloons dropping from the ceiling.
Over the next two hours, the band performed 23 songs, eight of which were from the most recent album, A Head Full of Dreams. In addition to the main stage and a 50-yard runway which Martin dashed up and down throughout the night with a Texas flag flapping off his pants, the band performed three quieter songs on the end of the runway, including a moving version of "Magic," the best selling single of their 2014 Ghost Stories album.
As a surprise the band moved to an even smaller stage in the back of the stadium that barely had enough room for all four to sing three more songs, including "In My Place" (from the band's second album Rush of Blood to the Head) that was chosen by the band's Instagram followers. As Martin launched into a stripped-down, hauntingly beautiful version of "Everglow" from the recent album, he asked that everyone in the audience send good vibes to those in other parts of the world who need it.
Speaking of Martin, how can you not love a guy who thanks everyone for braving the traffic to come spend the evening with them and proclaims, "We are going to try and make this the best concert of the tour?" As is his trademark, he twirled, jumped, danced, laid on the stage and endearingly started Viva la Vida over, saying "This is not right, not up to standards" and ran to the end of the runway to restart the song.
And he had everyone laughing and agreeing when he said, "If I lived in Texas I would just spend part of the summer in my refrigerator." Finally, he asked a favor of the audience, inquiring if they would help him surprise fifth band member, manager Phil Harvey, for his 40th birthday with a sing-a-long and an imitation of his smoothing his hair. Somehow that added to the good vibe feeling of the concert.
All was not perfect however. While Coldplay's songs seemingly have been written for stadium-size audiences, I miss the days of smaller venues. Despite a world of talent and special effects, it is hard to connect with a band in a football stadium.
There were so many fireworks that the stadium quickly became smoky. I wondered why the roof wasn't open — at least a little. And those who didn't love the new album Head Full of Dreams, which includes me, would have found themselves longing for the old days of tracks from albums X&Y and Viva la Vida.
But these are tiny quibbles.The entire show was one high after another, with barely a moment to catch your breath before the next round of confetti, fireworks or lasers ensued along with spectacular music. And the band seems in a solid groove that reflects their two decades of playing together. I actually believe Chris Martin when he said they would try to make the Dallas show their best one. For this audience they did.