Saturday, July 13, 2024

Coldplay’s Glastonbury 2024 Set Was Brilliant and Bizarre: Review

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Coldplay’s status as the Glastonbury house band has almost become the butt of a joke since they first headlined at Worthy Farm back in 2002. This year, they become the first act ever to top the bill here five times, and bring a Saturday night show that is mesmerising at its best but often simultaneously head scratching.

Playing to what will undoubtedly be by far the biggest crowd of the weekend, the band launch straight into a phenomenal first 45 minutes that reminds everyone why they’re the only band to headline here this many times. “Yellow” runs straight into “Adventure of a Lifetime” and we’re through “The Scientist,” “Paradise” and “Clocks” before the sun sets. For those stood at the very top of the enormous Pyramid field, the crowd’s light-up wristbands remains a spellbinding visual spectacle despite it having been a staple of Coldplay’s live show for a decade.

Things then settle down a little too much in a drawn-out mid-section of the set packed with special guests. The songs – mostly album tracks – are brilliantly performed by an arsenal of collaborators, but given many thousands of the astonishingly large crowd are stood in a different postcode to Chris Martin, it felt like an oversight for him to not introduce Little Simz, Laura Mvula, Victoria Canal, Femi Kuti and Palestinian/Chilean singer Elyanna by name.

As the set stretches on, Martin increasingly toes a line between charmingly earnest and overly sentimental. Glastonbury is “the most important engine room in the world,” he says, later calling for the crowd to send love around the world to Palestine, Israel, “peaceful Russians” and beyond, mirroring sunrise conversations at the Stone Circle all weekend.

Re-starting “A Sky Full of Stars” for a second run through, he instructs the crowd to put their devices away by making up a dad-at-a-wedding rap. “Your phones in ya pocket and ya hands in the sky / That’s the way we’re gonna make the whole world fly,” he repeats, although the cringing is immediately replaced by wide-mouthed wonder when fireworks rain down at the song’s powerful climax. Frequently throughout the set, you feel embarrassed, then moved, then awestruck within a single song.

This thin line between profundity and embarrassment is also toed in the band’s “Jumbotron Song,” where Martin turns the cameras on crowd members and improvises a few lines about them. “Pineapple on his head,” he sings of a man with a fruity hat. “I don’t care if it’s all yellow.” The camera then eventually makes its way to Michael Eavis – “the world’s greatest farmer who ever got knighted wearing shorts” – and then, remarkably, Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox, who joins the band to play guitar on “Fix You.”

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While “Fix You” is the set’s stunning emotional apex, Coldplay then decide to finish on brand new song “feelslikeimfallinginlove” as hordes of fans file away towards the exits and into the night. It typifies a show that’s world-beating at its best but often falls short of its potential.

This story originally published on Rolling Stone UK.



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