Coldplay At iHeartRadio Theater
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By Steve Baltin
Coldplay are used to playing arenas and stadiums, but to celebrate the release of their new album, Ghost Stories, dropping May 20, the quartet gave 400 lucky fans a very intimate performance on May 16 at the iHeartRadio Theater in Burbank, Calif. (An edited version airs tonight on Yahoo and iHeartRadio.)
Featuring a mix of old and new songs, as well as questions peppered in by radio personality Elvis Duran, the hour-plus performance kicked off with "Magic," the lead single from Ghost Stories. Slowed down ever slightly from the ubiquitous version that's been all over radio for the last month, the live rendition showed the song's more soulful side as well as Chris Martin's soaring falsetto. The frontman thanked the crowd after the performance and commended them, saying they "sounded amazing."
Duran interjected, asking whether or not the group ever found anything too personal to release. Martin responded no, saying, "We made a decision 15 years ago [that] we'd be open and vulnerable." He added amusingly that there's only one thing that would cause them to not release a song: "The reason you don’t hear any of our songs is they are terrible."
That would not be a concern on this night. A festive version of "Viva La Vida" included giant bongo drums and added percussion instruments such as a bell. The celebration then continued straight away with the band's new single, "A Sky Full Of Stars," a collaboration with Avicii. While he was not on hand, his spirit was felt as the song turned into a full rave under the stars in the theater, with Martin getting his groove on as star-shaped confetti showered the venue.
The mood then shifted into more subdued territory as Martin went to the piano for "Paradise" and followed with the beautiful new ballad, "True Love," driven by a synth beat. Martin seemed moved as he thanked the crowd for the support. "You're so kind to us, thank you," he said.
Paying back the kindness, Martin and his mates— bassist Guy Berryman, guitarist Jonny Buckland and drummer Will Champion — threw in two extra songs following some final questions from Duran. Ever the showman, Martin played up the bonus material. "Let's play some more music. Are you OK if we do two more?"
The answer was, of course, a thunderous "yes," which led to a strong performance of "Clocks" and the evening's finale, "O," another new ballad that wrapped the night thoughtfully.
Martin warned the crowd about their lack of preparation for the performance beforehand, saying, "We should've rehearsed it, had I known." But he knew all would be alright. "They're very forgiving, these lovely people," he said. What was not to forgive? We had just spent an hour watching a GRAMMY-winning multiplatinum band play an intimate show. That is a pretty special Friday night.
"Viva La Vida"
"A Sky Full Of Stars"
(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, MOJO, Chicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)