Live review: Coldplay at Wembley Stadium
Harry Craig reviews Coldplay live at Wembley Stadium for their Music of the Spheres tour.
Every time Coldplay step on stage, they seem to be doing something ground-breaking. After following their careers for as long as I can remember, I finally went on the adventure of a lifetime to Wembley Stadium for one of their six sold-out nights. That’s half a million people, for the record – arguably something no other band could achieve right now.
This is show 40 of their Music of the Spheres World Tour, their first global tour since 2017. The world has changed a lot since then, but all the staple elements are still there: Chris, Jonny, Will, Guy, and the now-iconic light-up Xylobands given to every attendee. There is something new, however, as the band lead the way in sustainable touring. The Xylobands are recycled; the show is powered by kinetic dance floors, and a tree is planted for every ticket sold. The drought and heatwave conditions on show day are a stark reminder of why this is so important.
As the sun sets over the Wembley Arch, the band blast into life with the space pop-infused ‘Higher Power‘, the opening track from the band’s latest album, Music of the Spheres. The crowd are bombarded with hit after hit stretching from the band’s twenty-two-year career, from ‘Viva La Vida‘ to ‘Adventure of a Lifetime‘, ‘Paradise‘ and ‘The Scientist‘. The production is immense, even from up in the nosebleed seats, but not at the expense of intimacy and emotion, as frontman Chris Martin captures the crowd with the energy of a toddler on a sugar rush.
The production is immense, even from up in the nosebleed seats, but not at the expense of intimacy and emotion, as frontman Chris Martin captures the crowd with the energy of a toddler on a sugar rush.
Charlie Brown has been a staple of Coldplay’s set lists for over a decade, and it’s not hard to see why when just four songs in, it provides one of the highlights of the night. It showcases the Xylobands at their absolute best, making the lyric “we’ll run riot, we’ll be glowing in the dark” come to life and ensuring every attendee feels like a part of the show.
There is, however, space to create new classics too. A new rival to Charlie Brown’s crown as the live set staple has emerged in ‘Humankind‘, from Music of the Spheres. Chris helps the audience out by leading us in the song’s refrain of “I know, I know, I know” and the track, like many others from the album, takes on a completely new energy in a live environment.
Music of the Spheres was clearly written to be performed. The band’s collaboration with Korean boyband BTS, ‘My Universe‘, is incredibly popular with the audience, and I even find myself trying to sing along to the Korean sections. It blends beautifully into Coldplay classic ‘A Sky Full of Stars‘, where Chris requests that we all put away our phones for one song. Martin knows how to work the crowd – he woos us over by calling us the “Beyoncé of crowds”, and provides a moving moment by getting the front of the stadium to sing ‘Yellow‘ to those at the back of the stadium.
All of this is a reminder of why Coldplay are the good guys of the music world. They are conscious of the world around them and want to make a positive difference. This theme is omnipresent throughout the concert – Chris clutches a pride flag during “big angry gay metal anthem” ‘People of the Pride‘ (1), and has even learnt the sign language for ‘Something Just Like This‘.
This desire to create a better world reflects the choice of a space-themed concept for Music of the Spheres. Although this concept seems a bit lacking on the album, it is brought to life on tour, where the band somehow manages to make songs about the whole universe feel incredibly personal and intimate. There is also a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour, such as during The Lightclub segment, when the band dances in alien masks, and during the show-closer ‘Biutyful‘, in which Chris duets with fictional alien puppet Angel Moon. The only notable absence from the set list is Music of the Spheres’ epic ten-minute closer ‘Coloratura‘, arguably one of the greatest songs the band has ever released, although it would perhaps not suit the stadiums Coldplay are used to performing in.
Amongst all this new material, however, is a band not afraid to tap into their roots. ‘Politik‘, a twenty-year-old album track, brought some heavy rock power to Wembley and satisfied hardcore fans like me. Meanwhile, the band’s journey to the C-stage in the middle of the audience saw them play an even older track, ‘Sparks‘, from their debut album Parachutes. The C-stage also featured an appearance from R&B star Craig David, including Chris’ hilarious, yet more relatable, version of ‘7 Days‘ in which he was “on my own on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and went to the cinema alone on Sunday!”
In this crazy world of war, environmental troubles and economic crisis, Coldplay are the antidote to pessimism and hopelessness. Their shows will leave even the most hardened sceptics with a flame in their hearts, ignited by 90,000 glowing Xylobands. They may not be able to fix you, but for two hours they will take you to paradise.