The infinite mystery of outer space was brought down to earth on Saturday as Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour landed at Soldier Field for the start of an explosive two-night takeover.
The cosmos-filled affair in particular zeroed in on our own humble planet and the ways in which we can sustain it, in alignment with the band’s pledge to cut tour emissions by 50%.
After some meditative interlude music, festivities began with a short film that informed concert goers of the many ways in which their ticket purchases helped with environmental initiatives, including reforestation, ocean cleanup and green and clean tech, as well as illuminating the renewable energy tactics that helped bring the show to life in a responsible way.
On this tour, stages are partly powered by patrons pedaling stationary bikes and jumping on kinetic floors, while the sight of Bic lighters in the air was replaced by 50,000 people wearing LED wristbands (recycled upon exiting the venue) that lit up the cavernous stadium like stars in a night sky.
In an era where real-world STEM applications are saving the planet, entertainment should be no different, and Coldplay’s powerful mix of art and science set the bar for what arena tours of the future could — and should — look like.
Other urgent real-world matters also were taking the band’s attention during the night. During a pensive, piano-driven ballad of “The Scientist,” frontman Chris Martin — surrounded by bandmates Jonny Buckland (guitar), Guy Berryman (bass) and Will Champion (drums) — paused for a moment to dedicate the entirety of the show to “anyone affected by gun violence,” sending love out to Uvalde, Texas, after a mass school shooting rocked the small town. “We don’t take it for granted we can gather like this,” Martin shared solemnly.
Seen wearing blue and yellow wristbands, the frontman also reflected on the war in Ukraine and asked the audience for a minute to simply shake their hands as a way to physically send good energy out to people around the world who are suffering; after the tender gesture, a series of fireworks exploded in the sky like rockets carrying the good deed forward.
By the time the band moved into the near-closer “Fix You,” emotions were high as the 2005 song — written for ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow upon the loss of her father in 2002 — became a cathartic release for our own collective grief in the past week.
Stretching beyond the tour’s sometimes cheesy intergalactic theme (like the part where the bandmates get dressed in their best Daft Punk regalia for a catwalk strut to “Infinity Sign” or walk onto the stage in a plume of smoke while John Williams’ “E.T.” theme plays), there was something much more universal about the message of this tour — that we are all in this together in the fight for the planet … and for each other.
It was not only seen in the rainbow of colors that dotted every inch of the stadium but also in the ways in which Coldplay made the show accessible for its audience. In addition to releasing Infinity Ticket packages that allowed more people to attend at affordable price levels and Martin using ASL interpretation on “Something Just Like This,” a three-stage setup had the band continually rotating platforms to be up close and personal with different sections throughout the night.
“Adventure of a Lifetime”
“Viva la Vida”
“Hymn for the Weekend”
“Let Somebody Go”
“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”
“People of the Pride”
“Something Just Like This”
“A Sky Full of Stars”
“Superstar” (Lupe Fiasco cover)
“God Put a Smile on Your Face”
The very back of the crowd received one of the biggest treats as Coldplay brought out a guest star, Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. Admitting he was the “biggest fan” of the band, Lupe led Coldplay into a cover of his own song “Superstar” before the ensemble launched into an ad libbed, unrehearsed version of Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile on Your Face.”
The moment saved some face for the Brit rockers after a laughable montage of BTS holograms during their collab song “My Universe” that came off as a futile attempt at relevancy with the younger crowd, whom Martin admitted probably were not even around when Coldplay’s hit “Yellow” was released 22 years ago.
Though their more commercialized hits of the past decade have no doubt drawn in a larger audience, there was no denying the ongoing appeal of Coldplay’s earliest, tempered works like the sweet “Sparks” that might be more fitting in the confines of Lincoln Hall but still filled Soldier Field with all its heart.
Opening the show was R&B phenom H.E.R., who is gunning to be the next arena tour headliner. Transitioning from plucking an acoustic guitar on the eloquent “Hard Place” to shredding on the electric for a cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and then taking her turn at the drums, H.E.R. is the epitome of multi-instrumentalist provocateur. As she debuted a new song she “just wrote,” showcasing some of her strongest crossover material yet, it became clear the best is yet to come for this rising star.