Coldplay was so clearly meant for arenas that it’s hard to imagine how it arrived there in the first place. After all, bands have to work their way up to regularly playing in front of tens of thousands of people, but right from the start, the British four-piece’s material seems to have always been writ too large for the more intimate venues available to a young group.
However it happened, places like the TD Garden are Coldplay’s home, and the band spent Sunday night’s sold-out concert — the first of a two-night stand — proving it. It ended with “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” and every song was an anthem, whether it was the stately, ringing guitar notes of “In My Place,” the driving and antsy “Charlie Brown,” or the sad chug of “The Scientist.”
Coldplay also toyed with arena-scale stagecraft aimed at the crowd. The wristbands given to the audience upon entry all simultaneously popped with light and color at the starting notes of opener “Hurts Like Heaven,” and they flashed repeatedly throughout the night, activated by an unseen controller. When the confetti cannon went off during the next song, it appeared that Coldplay would exhaust its bag of tricks early. Then came the giant inflated balls two songs later.
But such stunts didn’t detract from (or worse, stand in for) Coldplay’s performance. Even with Chris Martin’s loose-limbed wanderings, the whole band gathered around Will Champion as he gave “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” a long, tension-building drumroll. Perhaps more telling was “Major Minus”; with Jonny Buckland’s glass-shard guitar and Martin’s throaty shouts, the song made as strong a case as any for Coldplay as the next-generation U2. After more than a decade, they’ve earned it, even if they played the part from the beginning.
Emeli Sandé opened with heartfelt, anthemic pop like a soulful Supertramp. She was followed by Marina and The Diamonds, who were a more synthetic Florence + The Machine, whose singer looked like she grabbed five things from the “quirk” box and hastily threw them all on.
Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @spacecitymarc.