The list of rock bands who can fill and arouse an arena is diminishing rapidly. But 17 years after it released its debut album, Coldplay is still among them.
Tuesday night, the British band sold out the Sprint Center, drawing more than 15,000 fans, delivering two-plus hours of electrified entertainment, a gargantuan feast of visual flash — lasers, spotlights, confetti, streamers and balloons, all embellished by the wristbands distributed to every attendee that flashed and glowed throughout the show. The music was the entree, but the light show was a spectacular side dish.
They opened with “A Head Full of Dreams,” the title track from their most recent album, released in 2015. It was preceded by an excerpt from “The Great Dictator,” a Charlie Chaplin film, a speech that set the philosophical tone for the show, which was, essentially, treat each other kindly:
“I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.”
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They followed that with one of their most popular songs ever (246 million Spotify hits), “Yellow,” a track from their debut album, “Parachutes,” released in July 2000. It ignited the first of many boisterous sing-along and, thanks to those programmed wristbands, turned the arena into a bowl of yellow Skittles.
A song later, lead singer Chris Martin took a seat at the piano and played the intro to “The Scientist,” a stunning piano ballad about sorrow and loss that has become this band’s version of “Let It Be.” Again, the sing-along was hearty from start to finish
Coldplay’s previous show in Kansas City was almost nine years ago, in November 2008. Martin made light of that a few times. Before “Everglow,” he joked that the band had taken refuge in North Korea during that time so it could rehearse and get better.
He referenced the saber rattling (and nuclear war threats) that had erupted between North Korea and the United States and proposed something more innocuous, like playing tennis.
He also mentioned the weekend’s events at Charlottesville, Va.; then gave way to the video screens, which broadcast footage of Muhammad Ali, preaching about the need for charity: “(God) wants to know: How do we treat each other? How do we help each other? … We need somebody in the world to help us all make peace.”
They followed “Everglow” with “Clocks,” which aroused a volcanic sing-along. As boisterous as that was, it paled in comparison to the sing-along that ensued during “Fix You,” a feel-better salve (like John Lennon’s “Imagine”) that inspired plenty of slow-dancing among couples and evangelical, arms-raised, singing-into-the-heavens testifying among others afflicted by the song’s redemptive message.
Martin is a manic and exuberant lead singer, the guy who is having as much fun as anyone in the building, even on a night when 15,000-plus are expressing fervid spasms and bursts of glee. A few times, he ended up on his back, on the runway between the main and secondary stages, rolling around in drifts of confetti.
Other highlights: “Viva La Vida,” which featured some heavy floor-tom action and the issuance of three dozen or so large, plump balloons that would bounce about the arena; and “Adventure of a Lifetime,” which featured some provocative guitar lines that brought to mind “Marquee Moon”-era Television.
Coldplay spent most of the night on the main stage, but delivered a few songs from two others: the satellite stage set up at the end of a runway that protruded from the main stage and a makeshift stage among seats in a corner of the arena.
There, they played “In My Place,” which aroused another hearty sing-along; “Don’t Panic,” featuring drummer (and “Game of Thrones” alum) Will Champion on lead vocals; and then “Us Against the World,” played via a fan’s request, and, which Martin promised, would be on the band’s next album, a live recording to be issued in November.
They closed the evening back on the main stage, By then, the arena was awash in confetti — there were at least five explosions during the show. They ended with “Up & Up,” a keep-your-chin-up ballad punctuated by a blast of streamers that fell upon the crowd on the floor. Martin thanked everyone for the “best Tuesday I can remember” and then issued another reminder or prayer: “Be kind to each other.”
A Head Full of Dreams; Yellow; Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall; The Scientist; Birds; Paradise; Always in My Head; Magic; Everglow; Clocks; Midnight; Charlie Brown; Hymn for the Weekend; Fix You; Viva la Vida; Adventure of a Lifetime; Kaleidoscope; In My Place; Don’t Panic; Us Against the World. Encore: Something Just Like This; A Sky Full of Stars; Up & Up.