Coldplay prove the musical equivalent of Aladdin’s genie at Croke Park

Elephant costumes, ‘xylobands’, and an energetic Chris Martin make for an entertaining gig

Steve from Dublin was lifted aloft on his friends’ shoulders and surfed the crowd to play harmonica with Chris Martin at Coldplay's Croke Park Concert. Video: youtube/coldplayofficial

Artist: Coldplay

Venue: Croke Park

Date Reviewed: July 6th, 2017

Anything can happen at a Coldplay concert. You could turn up wearing an elephant costume and make it as far as the front row, your furry trunk emblazoned on screen for 90 per cent of the gig.

A wheelchair user called Rob from Dublin could be lifted aloft on his friends’ shoulders and surf the crowd to play harmonica on a song with Chris Martin. There’s a reason their last album was called A Head Full of Dreams when they are the musical equivalent of Aladdin’s genie.

The English band arrive at Croke Park with a pyrotechnics and ticker-tape budget that would bankrupt a small country, sparing no expense from the outset: on the way in, fans are handed ‘xylobands’ - wristbands controlled by radio frequency that change colour at various intervals – and as the sun went down, they transform the stadium into an impressive glittering sea of coloured lights. It is, without a doubt, an eminently Instagram-able show, something that the band are all too aware of; at one point, Chris Martin pleads with the crowd to put their phones away for “just one song”.

Whatever your feelings on Martin and his sartorial parallels with a pre-teen girl, there is no denying that the Devon man is a wonderful frontman. He arrives on stage with an Ireland flag literally tucked in his back pocket and a plethora of cheesy patter to go with it: his “Céad Míle Fáilte” is passable but lines like “Cheer if you think the Irish are the sexiest crowd in the world” are wince-inducing.

Still, insouciance or sullen coolness would not work with a show like this; it needs giddy charisma, a frontman who will tirelessly bound up and down the long platform between stages, someone who will sweat through numerous t-shirt changes and goad the crowd into jumping at the right moments and raising their voice for the emotional refrains.

For the most part, it works: they sing along with gusto to Yellow, gleefully waving their appropriately-coloured wristbands in the air. Paradise and The Scientist are huge and Hymn for the Weekend triggers eruptions of flames that would singe eyebrows from 100 feet.

Martin performs Fix You lying prostrate before leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of Viva La Vida, as balloons bounce around the stadium in a flurry of colourful ticker-tape.

The acoustic sections performed on the smaller stages are less engaging, sending most people scurrying to the bar or the toilet. During one of them, guitarist Jonny Buckland is hit by a beer bottle, prompting an irked Martin to politely request that “whoever did that, please don’t do it again.”

It’s the only negative note of what is generally an uplifting, entertaining gig. As lasers beams glimmer across the stadium and fireworks explode during A Sky Full of Stars, the guy in the elephant suit even makes it on stage, eyes wide with disbelief as he dances with Martin. It was, it seems, just that kind of night.