A dreary Melbourne sky does nothing to dissuade a fervent crowd determined to play in the cold tonight.
But puzzlement may meet melbournees come Saturday morn when casting a waking eye over the cities west. Wails of wherefore art thou Etihad? I am bereft of any semblance of doubt that the stadium may take some time to come down from its lofty bliss. You see Coldplay and their adoring fans sent it soaring into a celestial plane of commonality and mutual adoration, all to the soundtrack of their most admired hits.
But before we explore this incredible spectacle, we must warm up with our opening performances. And warm us they did. From her humble beginnings busking street side, Jess Kent brought us a little more sunshine and warmth than intended with a greeting of ‘Hey Brisbane’. A quick correction accompanied her seasoned stride and clad in the perfect outfit combination of hip hop and hottie, home-girl leapt into her skilful delivery. Having been ‘discovered’ by her manager on Instagram, it is obvious that it would take a great deal to rattle this up and comer. Jess is clearly fixed on reaching the heights of musical stardom, having slung her guitar and headed for the big stage. The highlight for yours truly was watching her attitude really shine with a little ‘Killing In The Name Of’ by Rage Against The Machine. The band really cranked this one out and clearly enjoy that big arena sound. Fantastic work. A genuinely enjoyable introduction to proceedings and the chance to glance at a performer still unveiling her massive potential. Jess left us in perfect form, namely leaving us wanting a little more.
Following some stage hustle, we are joined by Lianne Le Havas and her band. Now this is a genuine treat for us all because the voice of Lianne is one I have yearned to experience live for some time and when the crowd feel the thrill that is Lianne’s tremendous musical skill, she is sure to leave with a multitude of new Melbourne fans. I thought I had truly heard Lianne through the medium of recording, but it’s only now that I realise that I had not heard the real her. Her live vocal delivery is nothing short of miraculous. Forget was a thrill and a joy to behold, despite being a ladylike ‘venom spit’ back at the memory of a boyfriend of questionable appeal, Lianne delivers so passionately and convincingly that I’ll keep this gem especially for the ghosts of girlfriends past. Perhaps the picture of the stage front crowd huddling for warmth brought Lianne thoughts of familiarity in hometown London, but she seemed genuinely appreciative of this Melbourne audience. Not to mention our punctuality. Green and Gold offered biographical references to tantalise our curiosity, but it is her sensational voice that is astoundingly impacting upon willing ears. Say A Little Prayer, although written for Dionne Warwick, was owned by another on this night. Alone and without backing, Lianne delivered a truly moving rendition of this classic song. As the songs continue we are offered the comical reminder that ‘rather just rhymes with father‘ and it was meant to be a joke, but as Unstoppable and Midnight take us to new heights of breathless wonder, our chamber is sans laughter.
Lianne’s amazing voice soared and sadly the set was over far too soon. Every music lover should hear Lianne live at least once in their life, to have a true measure of contemporary vocal skill and music sporting a soul.
Grunt, fiddle, lift, shuffle, fondle and fart, the roadies make ready for the headline show.
The venue now stuffed and heaving after a steady shuffling of the expectant masses, summoned forth by Puccini’s alluring Mio Babbino Caro. Without further delay, Coldplay take to the stage and provide us immediately with A Head Full of Dreams. Born of their physical presence made manifest in our fair town, the splendour of lights and fireworks exploding above or the sheer majesty of this track performed live, our heads are indeed privy to a dream. With a promise to the crowd of ‘The best concert we’ve played in our lives‘ and a challenge to us to do likewise, we move into the timeless Yellow. There are no prizes for guessing the volume of cheers that met head on with Yellow, but these were put to shame by the veritable roar of appreciation meeting Every Tear is a Waterfall. A truly massive and near deafening response from the appreciative crowd.
The light show to accompany Coldplay is scarcely believable outside of a dreamscape. Lasers and backdrops, smoke and effect fill the arena, but he wails of excited inclusion greet every flash of the crowd worn wristbands.
Performing from mid crowd, Chris called for the house lights to be illuminated allowing the band an opportunity to say hello to all assembled. I couldn’t quite hear what was on offer to Chris by way of possible life accompaniment at stage front, but his suitable reply of ‘I feel very affectionate toward you too‘ was truly priceless.
The gratitude heaped upon the crowd from the band was quite moving. So very grateful to their audience and with a comment passed of fear infecting our world but the love in a room of 70000, ‘I know it’s going to be ok‘, really heightens the appeal of such a socially aware group of musicians. We were even all treated to a little BBC TV love to send back to the UK.
Everglow was a clear highlight for many in the crowd, but the magic was made manifest in Charlie Brown. We are urged to put phones down for just one song and hold our hands aloft in accompaniment. The wristbands provided an astounding ballet of light and the crowd emotion carried through the very floor. Thinking we had destroyed the very foundations of the stadium, Chris called on us to bounce higher and higher and higher and higher. This truly amazing experience was only topped by the band advising that our performance in celebration was ‘just about the best they had ever seen‘. You can imagine the roar of exhilaration that comment brought about.
Now rather than continue a track by track account of the evening, I feel compelled to lapse into something a little more fitting. I search for adequate description and sufficient vocabulary to accurately convey the atmosphere. But as I recall the lights, the sounds, the fire and flame, the confetti and the stars, the stage show proudly aspiring to reach the heights of Coldplays musical appeal, I realise that description in word, will not do justice to the magic felt by so many tonight. I will therefore retreat from my keyboard and refrain from further attempts to describe the true love in the room for this incredible group. May I be forgiven for respectfully leaving fans and readers with one observation. Tonight was a rarely of union and celebration as Coldplay reached in and touched the soul of Melbourne with their musical magnificence and genuine affection for fans all. Thank you Coldplay. Experiences of this magnitude are few and far between.
I refrain from further gilding of an already shimmering jewel because you have three opportunities remaining to witness the wonder. Melbourne – Etihad Stadium – Saturday Dec 10, then onto Sydney – Allianz Stadium – Tuesday Dec 13 & Wednesday Dec 14. Tickets available through livenation.com.au
A comment which rarely passes these lips seems to be free flowing subsequent to the show, namely ‘It just doesn’t matter if you are a Coldplay fan or not. You will be when you leave’.
LIANNE LA HAVAS