Live Report: Coldplay – Etihad Stadium, Manchester

A larger-than-life show...

Coldplay finally made their long-awaited return to Manchester in a way that only a band of this magnitude know how to, with four gigantic sold-out shows at the Etihad Stadium. The band that need no introduction sold over 240,000 tickets for this run of shows alone, bringing tremendous energy and atmosphere to the stadium, much more than can be said on match days… (Sorry, I promise not to be too much of a bitter Manchester United fan for the rest of the review) To put it quite simply, a Coldplay concert isn’t just a concert. It’s a celebration of live music to the highest degree.

We were lucky enough to be present on the second night of the four-show run in Manchester, taking our seats in the Gods of the Etihad if you will. However, being this high up didn’t spoil a thing as when Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion took to the stage the atmosphere and energy would flow right through the entirety of the venue all night long. Support for the night came from local Manchester band Porij and Scottish legends CHVRCHES.

This gigantic global ‘Music of the Spheres tour’ from Coldplay comes not only as a way of showcasing their impressive back catalogue of music, but also as a way of showcasing that tours like this can be done sustainably and with the environment at the forefront of consideration. The tour has already been hailed as one of the most environmentally friendly ever, with ticket and merch costs funding conservation efforts and more. The production also heavily relies on renewable energy throughout the night too with kinetic floors and charging bikes dotted throughout the stadium to power a generator backstage. As the band prepared to take to the stage, two young Environemtal activists greeted Manchester and displayed a short movie on climate change before announcing Coldplay’s arrival and having the show begin.

The night got underway in incredible fashion with Coldplay kicking the show off with arguably the biggest track from the ‘Music Of The Spheres’ album in ‘Higher Power’ which got the audience rocking from the get-go. They then dived straight into one of most impress set-list runs I’ve ever witnessed live, playing ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’, ‘Paradise’, ‘The Scientist’, ‘Viva La Vida’ and ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ back-to-back. Just banger after banger if you ask me.

Frontman Chris Martin then took the time to ask fans to raise up their signs as he spent a moment reading them out and thanking the crowd. He proudly shouted out both pride flags and Ukraine flags that were present in the venue before inviting a fan onstage for her 30th ever Coldplay show and let her decide the next piano-led song sat beside him. She chose wisely in picking fan favourite ‘Everyday Life’, a song in which Chris himself said he hadn’t played since 2019 but quickly remembered both the chords and lyrics as the song went on.

A highlight for many in the stadium would have to be their now their now infamous use of star-spangled LED bracelets that fill the stadium with a glorious lightshow. It was a great addition to their already incredible live discography and just further helped to bring in the feeling of togetherness that Coldplay embrace and symbolise. This was just one feather in Coldplay’s production cap however, with an enormous amount of pyrotechnics through the use of fireworks and confetti, it really showcased that the band goes all out to deliver their utmost best of a performance night in night out.

As the night got darker and the show continued, more fan favourites like ‘Yellow’ and Coldplay’s collaboration with K-Pop Stars BTS ‘Universe’ were all belted out and certainly made for highlights of the night. Chris Martin would also let the fans in on a little history of the band, telling a story of how they first played in Manchester 25 years ago at an unsigned concert in a café and this was where they were first scouted by one of their now long-standing team members and how this city now has a special part in the bands legacy.

After teasing the end of the show with ‘Sky Full Of Stars’ (one of the best live performances of a song I’ve ever seen), Coldplay returned to the much smaller C stage at the back of the stadium and had one extra trick up their sleeve for Manchester. Chris Martin would go on to finally introduce the entirety of the band to the crowd before announcing at the end that they have picked up a new member of the band from Manchester, and that being none-other than Manchester rapper Aitch. It certainly was an odd surprise but not one that would go unappreciated with the rapper playing two toe-tapping acoustic performances of his tracks ‘Buss Down’ and the Stone Roses inspired ‘1989’. Aitch is gearing up to headline Manchester’s Parklife in the upcoming weekend and this surprise performance tonight is arguably his biggest ever live-show performance until his headlining slot. As the band made their way back to the main stage to perform their encore, they played out one more ode to Manchester as they played a sweet cover of James’ track ‘Sit Down’.

Coldplay returned to the mainstage to deliver a spectacular encore consisting of songs ‘Humankind’, ‘Fix You’ and ‘Biutyful’, Fix you in particular was a song I was desperate to see way before even booking my tickets for this concert and I’m beyond thrilled to say it didn’t’ disappoint. The encore to close out the show simply tied up the entire night in one perfect bow with it being such an enjoyable and memorable experience, truly what every live music performance should strive to be like.

Words: Lewis Roberts
Photo Credit: Anna Lee

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