Review: Coldplay at Optus Stadium
Coldplay at Optus Stadium
w/ Amy Shark, Thelma Plum, Adrian Dzvuke
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Coldplay delivered an explosion of colours, unrelenting positive vibes, and an absolute slew of anthemic singalongs on the first night of their two-night residency at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
The two gigs were Coldplay’s only Australian dates thus far on the band’s current Music of the Spheres tour, and whether this was to reduce the band's tour carbon footprint or the result of a rumoured eight-figure sweetener from the State Government mattered little, parochial pride was the main beneficiary.
Before Martin and Co.’s technicolour dream, it was local R&B sensation Adrian Dzvuke’s chance to show the early-bird crowd his true colours. Dzvuke had earned his place as the show’s opener after jointly winning a competition (indie-popsters King Ibis featured as the band’s opener on Sunday night) held by the band and the state government earlier in the year. Looking fresh in an orange-flared suit, the Zimbabwean-born Perth artist has gone from strength to strength this year and charmed his way into the hearts and minds of the early arrivals with his smooth vocals and accompanying moves.
Thelma Plum was up next and looked confident in front of the growing crowd as she kicked off the set with her new single, We Don’t Talk About It. Plum drew the crowd in with her heartfelt lyrics and ethereal vocals, which shone in particular during her cover of Powderfinger’s These Days and on set-closer Better In Blak.
With the sun now setting, Amy Shark bounced on stage for a set of upbeat indie-pop. Opener Can I Shower At Yours had the crowd bopping along, while her interpretation of Bic Runga’s Sway was a moment of pure swoon. A cover of Kylie’s noughties classic, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, was a welcome surprise, while I Said Hi was a perfect fit for such an arena gig.
Then the stadium was plunged into darkness and strains of John Williams’ Flying Theme from E.T. signalled the arrival of Coldplay. The band quickly launched into Higher Power from their latest LP, Music of the Spheres, before frontman Chris Martin joked that the band should be up to par for Perth as they had ”been rehearsing this show for 119 concerts.”
The early part of the band’s set was littered with anthemic bangers from the band’s extensive back catalogue, with Paradise, The Scientist, Viva la Vida, and Hymn For The Weekend all receiving a rapturous reception.
The most tender moment of the night came next as Martin, interacting with the crowd between songs by reading the signs audience members had made and brought along, stopped after reading a sign held by a teenage girl that read 'Beat Cancer 2 B Here – Sing Everglow.' The singer then proceeded to invite the girl, who’s name we learnt was Jazmin, on stage and to sit beside him as he performed Everglow. By the song’s end, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
Coldplay’s production throughout was figuratively, and at times, quite literally, interstellar. There was an entire solar system of floating planets, choreographed pyrotechnics, a multitude of coloured bouncing balls that were let loose amongst the mosh area, and dynamic LED wristbands that bathed the stadium in a pulsating kaleidoscopic array of colours. The wristbands, which were distributed to every audience member, made attendees feel like a part of the show, as well as providing some absolutely stunning moments for the 'gram. It was hard to resist the effect that your wrist lighting up in yellow has on announcing the arrival of the group’s breakout single, Yellow.
Audience members were also invited to assist in the performance via the band’s use of green technologies such as kinetic dance floors and static bicycles, which were stationed around the venue.
Apart from the massive main stage, flanked by gigantic circular monitors that beamed the band’s performance to every seat in the venue, Coldplay also performed on two smaller stages that were strategically nestled amongst the GA section. These stages allowed for the band to move about the stadium and increased the level of interaction between the act and the audience. The group ventured to the smaller of these stages for an intimate moment that included the romantic Sparks, from the group’s very first LP, and a kooky ode to Western Australia that Martin had penned just for the occasion, which included references to local heroes and fixtures.
Returning to the main stage, Fix You would have blown the roof off the stadium if it had one and seemingly brought the night to its conclusion. However, it was Biuytiful that closed the set, as a puppet joined Martin on stage to sing the final number as a duet. The puppet, taken from the fictional band 'The Weirdos' that Coldplay brought to life in their videos for their most recent album, had debuted earlier in the set during Human Heart, and both moments produced the greatest number of head scratches from the audience. Likewise, the dark Pink Floyd-esque graphics and tone of People of the Pride felt out of step with the rest of the band’s peace and love messaging and fell a little flat on the otherwise captivated audience.
Coldplay’s visit to Perth was not only a musical celebration but also a message of hope, love, and unity. The band’s multiple expressions of gratitude at being able to visit and perform for the over 130,000 that witnessed them over the weekend were refreshing and seemed truly genuine. Thank you, Coldplay, for an unforgettable weekend in Perth.
Photos by Stu McKay