Under a sky full of stars, Coldplay rocked Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday night.
In fact, the British foursome played under more than stars at the Infinite Nights concert at Al Wasl Dome, the world’s largest 360-degree projection screen, as the “sky” also teemed with butterflies, rainbows and oversized BTS holograms.
Kicking off the gig right on time at 9pm, Coldplay took to the stage and launched directly into Higher Power, the uplifting hit from their ninth and latest album Music of the Spheres.
The quartet’s musical zenith, Clocks, was up next, with Martin taking a seat at the piano to croon along to the well-sampled riff.
But it wasn’t long before the frontman was back on his feet, doing circuit after circuit of the circular stage and greeting the audience.
Guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion provided solid support for the night, egging Martin on when he came close to them and performing flawlessly throughout.
Fix You, the band’s haunting and emotionally charged 2005 hit, was up next, followed by crowd pleaser Viva La Vida.
As Coldplay has produced countless international chart-toppers, the band's set was a non-stop list of hits.
With every track, after only a few introductory notes, the crowd — which spanned all nationalities and generations — knew exactly what song was about to be performed.
Over the hour-long gig, Coldplay went through an impressive playlist that spanned about 20 years, with Martin telling the UAE crowd “this song is old, very old, almost as old as this country” before launching into an almost country-style acoustic version of Yellow.
And while his dates were off by about three decades, the sky really was yellow in Dubai that night as captivating projections turned the dome everything from bright sunshine to deep gold.
Among the other hits were Paradise, performed under a kaleidoscope of butterflies and rainbows, a mellow rendition of The Scientist, Human Heart — which served as a short interlude that allowed the band to catch their breath — and People of the Pride, a meaty glam-rock number from the band’s most recent album and inspired by social movements such as Black Lives Matter.
During the latter, Martin was at his best, traipsing around the stage and pulling electrifying poses as he swung his arms and pointed his fingers.
“There comes a time in every band's life when you realise you don’t have any songs in Korean, so we called up some friends,” the frontman announced before launching into My Universe, the band’s anthem-like duet with the biggest band in K-Pop, BTS.
As Coldplay performed on stage, an oversized hologram of BTS floated across Al Wasl Dome, ticking the “special guest” box promoters had promised before the gig.
With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide, Coldplay are one of the most successful bands of the 21st century and one of the best-selling music acts of all time.
Typically found headlining stadiums around the world with upwards of 100,000 fans, it was a rather intimate affair at Expo.
Despite the smaller crowd, Martin’s energy was infectious as he stomped back and forth between the centre stage and the outer circles.
Nearly a quarter a century since the band was formed, Coldplay continues to churn out the hits, despite being routinely lambasted by critics and music snobs.
His usual bouncy self — skipping and sliding across the dome — Martin took a moment to thank the crowd for being there.
“We thought it was going to be like playing an empty shopping mall and its turned into this immersive experience and in some ways, it feels like the beginning of a new chapter,” he said.
“I know a lot of you have travelled a long way to get here, been through traffic and Covid tests and everything you have to go through these days to get here and we really appreciate it.”
He further alluded to the strange times that we live in during the finale, a soul-stirring rendition of Coloratura, the closing track from Coldplay’s latest album and their longest song to date, clocking in at more than 10 minutes.
“It’s a crazy world, it’s true,” Martin sang in the rapturous melodic utopia. “In this crazy world, I just want you.”