Hot on the heels of their historic six-day run at Singapore's National Stadium, British rock band Coldplay returned to Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium for two concerts over the weekend, marking their No. 131 and 132 shows in their ongoing sold-out, record-breaking and award-winning "Music Of The Spheres World Tour", which started in March 2022. A lengthy intro but I had to do justice to the world-class act.
Photos: Anna Lee @ Anna Lee Media
Coldplay fans in Thailand, who came from different cultures and corners of the world, descended on the stadium on Saturday for the first evening of "Coldplay Music Of The Spheres World Tour Bangkok". Many wore authorised (and unauthorised) merch to show their love for the band while a few cleverly dressed in yellow as a nod to their breakout song, which is named after the colour.
The weather was kind with occasional breezes and the crowd seemed to be high-spirited as they eagerly waited for the band. Two circular screens on the main stage were counting down to a "kinetic energy dance party" in Thai where 100 audiences volunteered to dance on two trampolines. They competed with one another to see which group raked up the most joules.
Around 7.30pm, Thai-Italian singer-songwriter Valentina Ploy, who was picked as their opening act for both days, took the stage to perform an energetic yet adorable set for 30 minutes before she bid adieu.
The crowd went crazy when the cover art of Music Of The Spheres (MOTS), Coldplay's ninth studio album, was shown on the video screens. Two Thai hosts took to the stage to greet the crowd in Thai and presented a video PSA narrated by the four band members on the effort made to make the tour as green as possible (for example, the LED wristbands are made of plant-based compostable materials and the audiences are asked to return them after the show) and how a ticket purchased benefit various good causes.
The show really started when the lights were off and live footage of the four members; drummer Will Champion, bassist Guy Berryman, guitarist Jonny Buckland and vocalist and pianist Chris Martin, walking up to the stage to the accompaniment of John Williams' Flying Theme from E.T., inciting a screaming frenzy and applause from fans.
Coldplay kicked the night off into such high gear with Higher Power, the lead single from MOTS, while light dots from countless LED wristbands change colours throughout the different parts of the song. An electrifying start of the night filled with spectacle and soul. They wasted no time and continued the uplifting vibe with Adventure Of A Lifetime, the groovy lead single from A Head Full Of Dreams, during which the standing ticket crowd got to toss big balloons around for extra fun while the wristbands went into full technicolour effect.
Paradise, the anthemic second single from Mylo Xyloto, was next with an extended intro and outro and the crowd enthusiastically sang along to the chorus. The first act of the show, "Planets", concluded with The Scientist, a first breather of the night, where Martin on a piano treated early fans to the mellow break-up tune from A Rush Of Blood To The Head, their second studio album. Martin paused the song and said kob khun krub and treated the fans to a few more Thai phrases but he must be the first musician, foreign or Thai, to ever greet fans with hew mai? (Are you hungry?) repeatedly in the history of concerts in Thailand. He greeted and acknowledged fans in different zones of the stadium before he asked the crowd to rong duay kan (sing together) the last bit of The Scientist. A beautiful end of their first act.
Coldplay kicked off the second act with an anthemic performance of Viva La Vida, the second single from Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, on the B-stage. The poetic lyrics about a powerful ruler losing his domain incited a rousing singalong especially the "Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh, oh" part at the end led by Champion. Hymn For The Weekend was next with only Martin performing on the main stage as flame jets, coloured dusts and laser accentuated the song's climax featuring Beyonce's vocals. The video screens showed Martin's hands mimicking a flying bird before the light went out.
The lights came back on as Martin acknowledged the diversity of that night's crowd and read several fan signs before picking a very lucky Chinese couple holding "China❤️Coldplay" sign to join him on the stage and treating them to a shortened version of Up And Up, one of the most kumbaya songs from Coldplay's discography. He also jokingly prayed to God for Coldplay to be able to perform in China but I don't know if Big Brother would take kindly to the rainbow flag.
There's a side controversy that I have to address here as some Thai fans voiced their annoyance online with the seemingly extra treatment Chinese fans got as, besides the two Chinese fans from the first night, another Chinese fan got picked on the second night. Perhaps, there were no Thai fans with signs near the stage on both nights? However, indie Thai band Zweed n' Roll got to perform Chuang Vela (A Moment) with Martin on the C-stage towards the end of the second night (damage control?).
Back to the first night. The entire stadium was lit once more with countless colourful dots, which blinked and fluttered to the beats of Charlie Brown before all wristbands turned yellow to signal the start of Yellow, their breakout song from debut album Parachutes, during which day-one fans got up on their feet to enthusiastically sing along, concluding their second act, "Moons".
The third act, "Stars", started with Human Heart, their collaboration with R&B sister duo We Are King and British musician Jacob Collier from MOTS, which had yours truly fighting back tears. The gospel-tinged minimal track was such a hymn for the soul and felt almost sacred. A group of wristbands on the stands aptly formed a red heart, in response to the song which is stylised with a heart emoji. Then they did a 180 with an energetic performance of People Of The Pride, also from MOTS, complete with flame jets and angry guitar. Coldplay then took fans down a memory lane with Clocks from their second album as the stadium was filled with blinking green dots.
The four members donned alien masks for the next segment which they tried to turn the stadium into a dance party with shortened versions of Infinity Sign, Something Just Like This and Midnight with pre-recorded vocals and Chris performing with hand signs. They then concluded the third act strong with My Universe and A Sky Full of Stars. The latter of which Martin asked fans to keep their phones in their pockets to be present and join him. "Instead of being four people in the band and 60,000 in the audience, we would like to be 60,000 and four people in the band", as Martin put it. The fans cheered and gladly obliged to join a celebratory performance of A Sky Full of Stars as fireworks lit up the sky before Martin said goodbye.
Of course, the concert wasn't over yet and it didn't take long before the band appeared on the C-stage for the fourth act, "Home", to send fans off with four more songs namely Sparks, The Jumbotron Song, Fix You and Biutyful. Sparks was such a treat to day-one fans who have stuck with them throughout their musical evolution and who may be yearning for a simple stripped-down love song from their early era. Note that I didn't italicise "The Jumbotron Song" because it wasn't a song title per se but a section where the camera focused on random members of the audience and Martin came up with humourous lyrics about them on the spot. A showcase of his songwriting skill and humour.
Fix You is a must-perform and Coldplay didn't disappoint as they lifted the crowd's spirit with a memorable anthemic performance before the concert spectacularly ended with Biutyful complete with butterfly confetti. After the band took the final bow, the lights were off except for the message "Believe In Love" being displayed on the stage before more fireworks were launched as the end credits rolled.
At the moment, Coldplay's two concerts over the past weekend are a wrap to the Asia leg of the tour. However, judging from the band's last picture from their Bangkok gigs, they hinted at more Asia dates to come. "Music Of The Spheres World Tour"'s last date is currently scheduled to end in New Zealand in November.