At last! We were finally off to the capital of Wales to see Coldplay in concert.
My wife is an avid fan of theirs and so we made a couple of days of it. In fact, we would have stayed longer if I had only immediately booked a hotel on securing our concert tickets.
I understand supply and demand and all that, but all of the hotel chains in Cardiff were certainly not holding back on their price hikes, simply on the back of Coldplay being in the city. I managed to get a nice hotel that was only a 15 minute walk to the stadium for £75 a night, which was not bad as our Coldplay tickets had cost £71.50 each. However, if we wished to stay on another night (the night of the concert), then that same room rate would have cost £800 as a sign in reception boldly stated. Disgraceful eh?
So our plan was to arrive the day before the event and tour around the city and then go to the concert the following day and after it had finished, we would drive all the way back home through the night. Which indeed we did and so did thousands of other people, no doubt those hotel prices were too much of a hike for them too. Cardiff as a whole, could have benefited so much more with the money from these visitors, if the hotels hadn’t pushed them away. Reminds me of the lyrics of Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts, if you catch my drift. Having said all that, our hotel room was OK and the swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna were just the job.
We had a lovely walk all around Cardiff Bay and absorbed all of the wonderful sites, architecture and restaurants. We fell on a feet regarding our choice of eatery as we found a fantastic Italian called Carluccio’s on Mermaid Quay. We shall try the one in Brighton on Jubilee Street the next time we eat out in town in order to compare them.
We took in the sights around Cardiff Castle and spent some time in the National Museum Cardiff which incidentally was free and then we went off for some retail therapy.
Then it was time to get ready for the highlight of our trip, however the heavens and bands and event organisers had other ideas.
We were emailed a few days before the gig, to suggest we get there early because of the understandable increased security surrounding such an event of this size (74,500 stadium capacity with around 60,000 seats available which were obviously all sold). So we dutifully did so. We had actually been to the stadium earlier in the day in order to take some photos of the venue before the crowds got there. We spoke to a couple of the stewards who kindly informed us that the first artist would be on stage at 6:15pm. The tickets said doors opened at 5pm, so this all seemed logical.
The problem was that the weather was torrential rain and instead of them opening the gates up early to let the punters in, we were all stranded outside until 5:50pm without any explanation. Whether it was to allow the organisers to close the roof (which had been open earlier in the day) or more likely it was because we could hear the soundchecks going on. Not impressed one bit about this, as I was totally soaked through despite wearing a weatherproof poncho. Yes, it was raining that much. So everyone was standing or sitting in soaked clothes during the evening. Bit of a major dampner really.
I would think that opening artist Lyves, was quite a bit put out too as she and her three man band had to come on stage at the allotted time, when the arena was about a tenth full. Lyves is actually an Italian-Australian London based artist called Francesca Bergami.
Her soulful vocal sound is probably best described in the same vein as Sade, Jones, Jessie Ware and Dua Lipa. You can hear her sounds on YouTube under Lyves Music, where you can watch her Darkest Hour, The Weather, No Love, and Shelter videos. During her set, she was trying to get the crowd going, but I would kindly suggest that they just hadn’t warmed up enough yet, which was not her fault.
Next up were Embrace. The post Brit-pop ones who hail from near (Brighton and Hove Albion’s fellow promoted footie team of) Huddersfield. The boys were back after a sabbatical during 2007 to 2010, having been working together since 1990. The McNamara brothers, Danny and Richard and their pals set tonight started quite sedately and then as they performed and the Coldplay fans slowly but surely started to (dry out) warm to them, their songs better and better. An obvious one for the Coldplay fans was their really decent timeless 2004 Top 10 single Gravity, which was actually penned by some bloke called Chris Martin. His band had supported Embrace four years earlier and so he was repaying the debt no doubt.
Embrace also performed their 2006 No 2 single Nature’s Law, their debut Top 10 single All You Good Good People, it’s follow-up single Come Back To What You Know which got to No 6 (two places higher than its predecessor) and the catchy Ashes single from their Out Of Nothing No 1 album. They have actually had 3 top slot albums, the others being 1998’s The Good Will Out and the 2014 self titled comeback album. So by the end of their set the crowd were warming up rather nicely.
Prior to Coldplay coming on stage, all of the crowd put on their impressively looking Xylobands. Not heard of these before? Basically they are wristbands that contain light-emitting diodes and radio frequency receivers. The lights inside them are controlled by a software programme, which sends the signal to it, telling it to light up at certain times in certain colours, all in time to the music. All clever stuff really! They were the brainchild of a chap called Jason Regler who hit upon the idea whilst watching Coldplay in concert.
Imagine the atmosphere when all of sudden Guy, Jonny, Will and some bloke called Chris hit the main stage and then circa 60,000 wrist lights come on – magic! Nearly as magic as shifting 80 million records eh boys! Just the 170 million to go to catch The Beatles and Elvis, but closing fast.
Tonight’s extravaganza was one to savour for a very long time for a majority of the crowd who had by now had dried out. (For the record no I hadn’t, OK!).
Coldplay actually managed to perform songs from three different areas during the night, a bit like Take That had done in the past. Come to think of it that runway and parts of the set look familiar, anyway, they expertly and professionally performed for around two hours. Mr Martin (who is no shrinking violet) informed the crowd that they were one of the greatest audiences that he ever heard and that was after just the second track. Maybe serious Coldplay fans would be able to vouch for that or not? Or maybe young Chris was telling the crowd what they wanted to hear. Surely not buttering them up after the soaking surely not?
Luckily for a majority of the fans there were giant screens installed behind the band, in order that they could be properly seen. Our seats were right in line with the main stage but rather high up and so we benefited from the screens. They had some rather nice special effects and graphics on them and also at times showed members of the crowd. Talking of special effects, we even had indoor pyrotechnics that nearly reached to the roof. The lighting throughout the show was pretty mean too. Mean as in cool and not miserly. We had different coloured giant beach balls too. Everything was a riot of colour during the concert as Coldplay don’t do drab visuals.
We lucky punters were treated to 23 choice cuts from the bands ever expanding repertoire across the three stages. Their intro tape was the Nessum Dorma-esque O Mio Babbino Caro, setting the tone nicely. First up was understandably the title track of their seventh and latest album A Head Full Of Dreams. This got everyone jumping around nicely. Next up was my second fave Coldplay track of all time, namely Yellow. Bet you can’t guess what colour our Xylobands went?
Their third song was taken from their strangely titled Mylo Xyloto 2011 album and was the Big Country-esque Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall. This was followed by the slower ballad The Scientist which came out in 2002. The fifth song was God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, which Chris got the crowd whoop whooping along with him. Was I the only person in the audience that was thinking of the Michael Zager Band’s Let’s All Chant song during this track? They were back to their Mylo Xyloto album next with the anthemic Paradise.
Then there was a change of scenery for the band as they moved from the main stage to a central circular stage in the middle of the crowd, where they performed three songs Always In My Head, Magic and the sedate Everglow.
Returning back to the main stage they performed my favourite Coldplay track by miles on record and of the evening, namely Clocks. I think that Will’s drumming on this is Champion (see what I did there fans?).
Midnight from their Ghost Stories album was up next and was followed by the livelier Charlie Brown and down with wiv da kidz style Hymn For The Weekend. Bringing the mood back to ballad-land Mr Martin gave us Fix You. But fear not, we weren’t there long as everyone was literally jumping to Will’s metronomic drumming on Viva La Vida. His drum timing was perfect, I was impressed. My wife was impressed with the next offering, the dancey Adventure Of A Lifetime, which always gets a play in her car.
Oh where have the boys gone? Oh I see there’s a further stage right at the opposite end to the main stage. Whilst this surprise was going on, the unusual Kaleidoscope spoken track was playing in the background. Then the boys stuck up another 2002 number, In My Place, which had the added benefit of Oasis’s Don’t Look Back In Anger being partly added in the middle. Logical really when you hear them both together.
Back all the way to the main stage again, to perform their joint track with The Chainsmokers, namely Something Just Like This. Whilst they were on the uplifting more dancier numbers the A Sky Full Of Stars followed which got everyone jumping again. Their final track proper was the get it together Up And Up. Then the finale was a celebration of Wales and the fact that guitarist Jonny was brought up in Wales, this was the Welsh National Anthem, known as Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and was sung by a chap and a lady from a choir.
That was it, the end. Now all that was left was for the fans to purchase an official t-shirt (for £30 I was told) or take a risk and buy them from the many pop-up street traders/chancers in the streets around the arena for £10 or just £5 – supply and demand again!
Coldplay, however, would be doing it all again on the following night with a virtually identical set, whereas I would be somewhere nice and dry, sunny Sussex.