BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Returning full circle to the site of their Super Bowl 50 performance seven months earlier, Coldplay wrapped up the American leg of their “Head Full of Dreams” tour with an equally colorful show before a packed house at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday night.
With each concertgoer receiving a different colored electronic wristband upon entering the venue, any doubts about a drab evening were quickly dissipated. Over the course of the evening, when prompted by the production, the wristbands lit up into a myriad of different colors that combined to impressively light up the stadium far beyond any spectacle ever seen at a psychedelic rave.
A palpable level of electricity could be felt the moment Coldplay took the stage as lead singer Chris Martin wasted no time racing from end to end of the large stage along with the outer reaches of the catwalk that stretched far into the center of the crowd. Opening with the title track of their new album, released last December, the band seemed to enjoy alternating the tempo from song to song on a number of occasions throughout the evening . Following “A Head Full of Dreams” with the more melancholy “Yellow” before presenting “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” from 2011’s “Mylo Xyloto.”
The band did a great job bringing their presentation much closer to the massive throng by incorporating two additional stages, one on the field in the middle of the crowd, the other elevated high in the stands on the far end of the stadium. While not as visible as frontman Martin, guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman are also polished and animated in their own right and more importantly, all solid musicians. It’s a sign of the stability that the tight knit band that Martin and Buckland first formed in London in 1996, four years before their first brush with fame came with the release of “Yellow” from their debut album “Parachutes,” has had the same line-up since 1998.
Giant video screens projecting images overhead on the NFL 49ers tack sharp monitors provided not only a brilliant laser light show, but also the backdrop for touching tributes to some recently departed pop icons. Martin remained alone at midfield for a touching piano solo on “Everglow” as a tribute to boxing champion Muhammad Ali played. Earlier, “The Scientist” was dedicated to Gene Wilder with a snippet of “Pure Imagination” thrown in for emphasis.
Later, following a stellar version of “Fix You,” the band was joined by a large contingent from the Oakland School for the Arts choir to conduct a beautiful rendition of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” It was the first time Coldplay has played it live and they absolutely nailed it, leaving more than a few misty eyes in the house just eight months after the passing of the rock legend. 2008’s “Viva la Vida,” debatably the song that launched a more commercial phase for the band followed, at which time the entire audience seemed to be engaged, standing and singing along with large smiles on their faces.
A handful of songs on two different stages remained, but it was that segment of the show that will be most remembered as any doubters of the bands power or diversity had been converted to believers. They were clearly in the company of one of the most elite groups in the world providing a musical assault on their senses complimented by ongoing explosions of color.
Returning to the main stage with a California flag draped over his shoulders for a final encore, Martin led the quartet thru a closing trio of songs. The first, “Amazing Day,” bore a title that truly summed up the evening. “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Up&Up” gave the assembled gathering a final opportunity to revel in the light show they had all contributed to and close out the nearly two hour extravaganza with one last dash of ecstasy before returning to the abrupt reality of 60,000 fellow music lovers headed for the exits in unison, and waking up to the resumption of one of the most contentious election cycles in our country’s history.