Chris Martin is 40 years old. A milestone in most people’s lives. His band, Coldplay, are 21 years old, also a milestone. Croke Park, Ireland’s largest and most iconic venue, on Saturday night was another milestone for the foursome, one which was marked with a party akin to that of a five year old’s birthday.
Coldplay are one of many Marmite-like acts in the musical world right now (Howiya Mr. Sheeran), millions of adoring fans, a similar number of not-so-adoring critics. 80,000 of the former (and the odd dissenter or two) packed into Croker, as it’s more affectionately known, on Saturday for the band’s first headline show in Ireland in eight years. For them, it was worth the wait.
Opening the show with new single Aliens (maybe? Their last few all sound the same), Chris Martin bounds around between two of the three stages to be used during the show like that one kid at the party who’s had one too many Skittles.
A string of oldies follows with The Scientist marking the first mass singalong of the night, even the dissenters are struggling not to get swept up in it all. No one ever told them it would be this hard…sorry.
Paradise sees the first major light show of the night as 79,999 wristbands (Devastatingly, GoldenPlec’s was broken) flashed like that cool kid at the party’s light-up runners, it’s quite a sight. But wait, what’s that? A bizarrely well-received DJ Tiesto-remixed outro for absolutely no reason? Quick, pass me the iPod.
Chris and friends then take to the mid-pitch circular stage for the trio of Always in my Head, Magic and Everglow before returning to the main stage for a powerful rendition of Clocks, proving that they actually do have a few good tunes, to be fair, and when played with the vigour that Martin brings to the stage, you begin to understand the adoration a little bit more.
Sing-along song number two Fix You, Viva la Vida and Adventure of a Lifetime close the main set with balloons, confetti and fireworks showering Hill 16 in more colour than the usual sea of blue we’re used to.
The band re-emerge on a stage at the Davin Stand end of the ground after a quick plastic glass of coke and a chocolate-and-sprinkle-covered fairy cake and launch in to In My Place, which is ended with a rendition of Don’t Look Back in Anger in tribute to the people of Manchester.
Old favourite Don’t Panic is probably the highlight of the night, showcasing everything that made Coldplay a household name in the first place in a little over two minutes. “We Live in a beautiful world” is as poignant a lyric as ever.
Then came the most Coldplay moment a Coldplay gig has ever seen. As Rob, a 29-year-old fitness instructor crowdsurfs in his wheelchair, Martin spots him and invites him on stage to play harmonica in a song that they’re “going to write right now” in honour of Dublin. It’s saccharine yes, but equally memorable.
The night draws to a close with the trio of Something Just Like This, Sky Full of Stars and Up&Up, featuring more whizz, bangs and flashes than a Harry Potter film, oh, and Chris Martin dancing with a elephant, obviously.
Saturday night was a party in every sense of the word. It’s just a shame that the five year old’s parents spent too much of the budget on the party decorations, and not enough on the entertainment.