The 6000 miles… Coldplay review

So, after months of waiting, last night was it. Me, Mrs 6k and 53,000-odd others seeing Coldplay at the Cape Town Stadium. I’ve done several concert reviews on here before and I’ve learnt that that people like the whole package, so let me share my experiences with you.

  • Don’t care for words, and just want pictures? Click here for my flickr set.

Parking: New plan – I decided to park in the CTICC car park. Choose the P1 parking and you’ll pay a flat rate of R30 for the evening, your car will be safe and secure and you’ll be just a 5 minute walk from the goodness of the Civic Centre end of the free Civic Centre – Stadium shuttle. Add to that the benefit of a direct exit onto the elevated freeway (N1/N2) and suddenly you’ll wonder why on earth you ever parked anywhere else. Brilliant.

The Fan Walk: Mrs 6k had never done the Fan Walk and I hadn’t done it since the Bafana v USA game last November, so I was more than happy to take her along and share the experience with her. But what a disappointment. There was no entertainment, no food stalls (this could have been a big issue: I was getting hungry and you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry), no nothing.
So let’s be honest here, this isn’t a “Fan Walk”. This isn’t something that Cape Town should market as a unique selling point; this a road that has been closed to allow people to get to the stadium. Just like roads near stadiums are functionally closed each and every week worldwide.
Move along please. Absolutely nothing to see here. Hugely disappointing.

Food: Peri-peri chicken burgers and Bratwurst rolls at Giovanni’s in Green Point. Winning.

The Stadium: I love this stadium. I love coming to this stadium. I love being at this stadium. But last night there was a worrying lack of security and organisation outside. Somehow, while there were huge queues to get to some turnstiles, there were no queues to get to others. This prompted anger and – eventually – a potentially dangerous situation of a fence being uprooted and hundreds of people pouring through to get to the shorter queues. Not good. There weren’t enough event staff to manage the situation – were they not expecting a big crowd? – and that meant that people got through without having their bags searched. Which is no big deal as long as they haven’t got anything nasty in there, but it shouldn’t happen.
One other issue: the new City health drive meant that there were no refreshment facilities on the third tier. Therefore, you could pre-emptively work off the calories from your food and drink by having to carry it up the 6 floors to your seat.
Thanks Patricia. I feel thinner already. You should give it a go, pet.
Otherwise, I love this stadium. I love coming to this stadium. I love being at this stadium.
Did I mention that?
Oh – and jumping ahead – after the gig, the new longer, wider queuing system for the bus station was brilliant and has effectively removed the crush which has ensued after every other event. It shows that the city is watching and learning and that gives me hope after those two negatives above.

Right – time for some music.

The Support: The Parlotones came on, sang some songs and went off. It was a completely bland, ordinary and eminently forgettable performance that deserves nothing more than utter indifference in reaction.
The one benefit was that now I have seen them (again), I feel fully justified in my opinion that they have stagnated, offered nothing new or exciting for years and never lived up to their initial promise.
Those who wish to disagree can disagree. But I have no idea why you would.

Coldplay: The Main Event. Bizarrely, the band came onto the stage following a full volume, full length rendition of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems (But A Bitch Ain’t One) on the PA. I have absolutely no explanation for this. Did Gwyneth even come with?
Anyway, this was the first concert that I’ve ever been to where I was sitting way back and not bouncing in the Golden Circle. But then, Coldplay are one of those bands whose anthems mean that they are perfect for these big arena gigs. The experience is brilliant for everyone throughout the stadium. Or so I thought.
I was wrong. For the entire performance, I couldn’t get away from the fact that I was watching a concert, not being at a concert. The sound was good (better than U2 according to those around me who had been at U2), although the spoken bits between songs were often hard to pick up. The light show was fantastic and I don’t think it would have been as spectacular from ground level.
They began with the energetic Mylo Xyloto, moved onto Hurts Like Heaven – both of which were powerful enough to get the fans going (assisted by the release of some big balloons), despite being new tracks – and then hit us with Yellow, which still holds its own almost 12 years on. In My Place was the first quiet number and – once again – I was struck by the lack of concert etiquette in SA as it was drowned out by people chatting throughout (see my reviews on James Blunt, REM, Spandau Ballet etc etc etc). We didn’t get The Hardest Part last night, which I would have liked as I think is one of their best songs live – but given the overall volume of the track, perhaps that was a good thing.
I fear greatly for the upcoming Tori Amos gig…

Paradise, Lost and Violet Hill were also good, although the audience seemed to lose interest for a while during God Put A Smile On Your Face.
However, The Scientist was well received – especially the change in the lyrics: “Come up to Cape Town, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are” – but sadly ruined by the biltong salesman trying to flog stuff while Chris Martin was taking us “back to CHIPPIES!! CHIPPIES!! DROEWORS!! the start”. These guys are great for football matches, great for rugby games, but really shouldn’t come to concerts.

And then the band came down for a pseudo jamming session on the pier at the front of the stage, which – for those of us at the back – really was a bit rubbish. The acoustic version of Shiver, from the Parachutes album seemed dangerously unrehearsed, held together with experience rather than practice and I, for one, was glad when they returned to the main stage for Viva la Vida and Politik, the latter of which was, again, disrespectfully ignored by the majority of those around us.

Ninety minutes in, Chris thanked us all and disappeared (and so did a few hundred people from the stands – why do they do that??).
The encore was impressive, as you might expect with those anthems: Clocks and Fix You. If Chris Martin doesn’t like the fans singing along with him, he hides it well. Cheeky grins abounded when the entire crowd launched into “Lights will guide you home…” – it was the highlight of the evening for me.
The lasers were back as they finished with the upbeat Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, complete with numerous fireworks and it was a strong finish to what was – overall – a bit of a disappointing evening.

I marked it at 6.5/10 (Mrs 6k gave it a 5!), which I rounded up to 7 on my Facebook status last night and which was still received with gasps of incredulity and demands for an explanation. Much of that low mark  could probably be put down to our seating position in 327 – which I really didn’t enjoy: I didn’t feel part of the gig at all and there’s actually very limited fun for me in paying R365 to watch thousands of strangers enjoying themselves. I’ve learnt my lesson – from now on, these sort of concerts will be Golden Circle or not at all.

But sadly for Coldplay and me, that knowledge has come too late to save last night.

  • Good review – we had a similar experience from 325. In fact the couple in front of us seemed to fall asleep and after chatting for a few songs left early. Bit bizzarre.

    We parked in town and walked on the fan walk for Bafana v USA. I would do this again in favour of the park and ride from UCT which did not work at all. We left the huge queue after 1.5 hrs and caught a taxi. Frustratingly we would have easily made the train back.

    Agree totally on the fan walk – it is now a (partially) closed street. Nothing special at all any more but is still marketed as thought it is the Rio Carnival in some quarters.

  • ItsStillAyoba > Glad you agree. I’m copping some outrage on email, FB and via my cellphone.
    (Twitter is too concerned with Steve Jobs to notice).

  • RK

    Agree with your statement on the chatting. We were down on the general standing which wasn’t too crushed and it became a bit much for when the drunk student types were hollering to each other about how drunk they were during the slow songs. And tall guy with the windmilling elbows, moshing is for Mercury, try and respect the people around you.

    Other than that, Chris’s sound could have been turned up a bit. We thoroughly enjoyed the concert and the pyrotechnics.

  • I completely agree with you regarding the “Fan Walk”; we were in Green Point late morning/early afternoon and both the Stadium & Granger Bay bus stations were closed to “accommodate the Fan Walk”? What?!

    Arriving at the concert via the V & A was easy and we went in as the Parlotones were wrapping up (agree 100% that they’ve stagnated, a pity, as they had such potential). Queues at the beer tents were chaotic (at U2 they were organised and you’d be in and out in 2 minutes).

    Then there was “the sound”: 1st row, upper tier (329) – we could not hear any clear words/lyrics and the percussion drowned everything else out.

    Coldplay needs some extra oomph as their songs are quite gentle and almost laid back, but the lack of “big stadium concert add-ons” by them was disappointing. I’ve attended Sting’s concerts and was on my feet the whole time because he knew how to jazz up his music to accommodate a live crowd. The lazsers were great & I loved the fireworks (unexpected) and the balloons were cute but if you want to play stadium shows, you have to bring your A-game – I don’t think Coldplay had it last night.

  • Grapas

    Activations on Fan walk is entirely dependent on the amount of money that an event organiser is prepared to spend. City does not pay for this aspect but only the traffic, road closures,pedestrian routes and shuttle service. Fan walk only had KFM activation. Was therefore primarily used as a walking route to get to stadium. Pubs and restaurants were popular. Thnks.

  • Reflex

    This seems to be more a discussion on fan walk than concert so might as well drop my 2c in.

    Did you notice that a cigarette company seemed to be advertising along the fanwalk?
    Some girls dressed in blue holding cartons of cigarettes.
    While it may be entirely legal to do so (I don’t know if it is or isn’t) is it the right thing to be doing considering the make up of the crowd.

    This also opens up into a discussion about the Stadium being a no-smoking venue and the amount of people who flagrantly disregarded this.

  • RK > The crowd was mainly drunk student types. Not much we can do about that, I’m afraid.

    Maggie > Many fair points.

    Grapas [Grant Pascoe, Executive Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events & Marketing and Cape Town DA Metro Chairperson] > Thanks for the clarification on the fan walk debacle.

    Reflex > I did notice that. “Marlboro Blue Ice”, I believe.
    Is it the right thing to be doing considering the make up the crowd?
    Morally, no, of course not.
    Business-wise, yes, of course it is.

    Have to say I have never had any issue with anyone smoking where they shouldn’t in the stadium.

  • I doubt the Fan Walk will ever recapture is WC vibe. Possibly if we ever get meaningful bafana games and big rugby fixtures at the stadium but we have to accept WC2010 was a one off – “once in a lifetime” as the adverts said at the time.

  • ItsStillAyoba > Then they should stop calling it the “Fan Walk”.

  • Grapas

    Cllr Pascoe. Feedback from Transport: CT shutlle incoming delayed due to peak hr traffic and incoming fans. Incoming trains OK, outgoing, only 3 trains were kept back for approx 30 mins due to fans being slow to get to the station. Minor issues but generally went well.

  • Grapas

    Several debrief exersises are conducted. Safety and security, stadium alone and with event organiser, transport, etc. Findings assist all services in their planning for future events. Iterative process as event dynamics differ, fan profiles and preferences differ

  • Reflex

    Quite possibly the smoking policy is better enfored in the seated areas than in standing area.

    Polite requests to refrain from smoking were countered with rather aggressive reactions.
    Guess I should learn not to mess with a smoker and their nicotine addiction.

  • My experience, from the Golden Circle, was considerably different: http://mynameisjerm.com/coldplay-in-cape-town-and-first-time-in-africa/

    Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

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