Glastonbury Review: Coldplay

June 30, 2024

Fifth time’s a charm. The BBC’s peerless coverage of this historic performance will no doubt have been eye and ear candy of the highest order from the comfort of the living room. In the flesh, it was a slick show from seasoned pros that worked the trick and made the giant Pyramid Stage crowd feel, well, if not intimate, then at least stadium sized.

Part of that is down to Coldplay’s catalogue. There is much diversity and gold in there, but there’s also the realisation that Chris Martin and co have a tireless, inexhaustible habit of courting the zeitgeist. If there’s a bandwagon going, it’s likely that Chris is in the passenger’s seat trying to wrestle the driver out the door.

Opening with ‘Yellow’ was a statement of intent. Not only were the songs huge from the get-go, but, by song three, we’d already had a confetti canon, fireworks, LED wristbands glowing like crazy, and hundreds of balloons cascading over the front rows. It was like an ADHD fever dream or a kid on a sugar high. Even Spinal Tap might have dismissed the tropes as OTT.

It’s a sign of their cultural capital (or Capital FM capital) that everyone member of the crowd knew every. single. word. of. every. single. song. The band dug into their entire history, pulling songs from each corner of their long, storied career and presented them with the same zeal. There was no sense of running through the (e)motions. And that’s a hard trick to pull off.

Amid all the polished palaver and silver-tongued patter, came some rare glimpses of jeopardy when Martin entertainingly (and quite effortlessly) improvised humorous couplets to random crowd members. That introduced a break from what could have otherwise been too neat, tidy and over-rehearsed.

There might have been more gimmicks than a joke shop, but there were more tunes than a jukebox too. Predictably, the likes of ‘Paradise’, ‘Viva La Vida’, ‘Sky Full of Stars’, and ‘Fix You’ were fantastic. That said, some of the quieter moments hit the hardest. A stirring take on ‘Sparks’ from Parachute, and a spiritual rendition of Ghost Stories’ ‘Arabesque’ were stunning.

Haters are gonna hate, but Coldplay have had the last laugh on all their detractors. Quarter of a century on from their birth, they’re still here, still relevant and breaking festival records. What’ll they do for their inevitable sixth headline set here in half a decade’s time is anyone’s guess. This one will be hard to top.

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