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.