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Coldplay’s Celestial Playground: Chris Martin Brings Joy, Tears to Perth’s Optus Stadium

Coldplay and Captain Chris Martin did indeed transport us to another planet

Coldplay Perth concert

Coldplay at Perth's Optus Arena on November 18, 2023

Duncan Barnes

The first of just two Australian shows in Perth solidified Coldplay’s status as rock’s most visionary live act.

They may have two accolade-filled decades under their belts, sold 100 million albums worldwide, but the records keep on coming for Chris Martin and his cohorts. By Sunday night, the English rockers will take the crown for the biggest two-night attendance at Perth’s Optus Stadium, with over 130,000 Coldplay fans shattering Ed Sheeran’s 120,000 attendance record in March, setting a new benchmark for live performances in Australia.

Coldplay are a supremely well-oiled live machine at this point, but last night’s show — celebrating a concept album about outer space — was its real life imagining. Coldplay brought the distant solar system, Spheres, to Perth, for a communal celebration.

The magic of Coldplay is their demographically agnostic appeal: timeless tracks like “Clocks” and “A Sky Full of Stars” were created for hot, outdoor, stadium-filling nights like these, anywhere in the world.

But a Coldplay concert highlight is hard to pin down. They love a special guest moment — who could forget their Super Bowl performance when they had superstar cameos from Beyoncé, Gustavo Dudamel, Bruno Mars, and Mark Ronson — but Perth was all about the crowd. The most personal moment came spontaneously when Martin, sitting at the piano, dedicated “Everglow” to Jasmine, a young cancer survivor who held up her sign, “I beat cancer to be here, play Everglow”. With Jasmine next to him, he altered the lyrics in her honour.

Outside of the immersive neon rainbow the crowd created thanks to the LED wristbands we were given on entry, Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion seamlessly blended their hits with visual wonders in a non-stop spectacle.

Credit: Duncan Barnes

Special local touches included a well-researched but improvised shout-out to Western Australia in a song, name-dropping cricketing greats Justin Langer and Dennis Lillee and showcasing Martin’s knack for creating a unique, localised experience.

Credit must also be given to Coldplay for their all-local lineup of Adrian Dzvuke, Thelma Plum, and Amy Shark. Shark’s support slot was a standout moment in its own right. Commanding the stage with an effortless charisma, she had the crowd wrapped around her finger from the get-go. A sea of unprompted phone lights spanned the stadium during “Love Songs Ain’t For Us”.

Later, her playful spirit shone through in a comedic skit, where she reenacted the moment Coldplay chose her as their support act, humorously noting, “There’s this Amy Shark bird and she’s got some good songs, her hair’s pretty big, not sure what that’s about.” Her set celebrated her gratitude to Coldplay but also included a few firsts thanks to her performance of unreleased single “Beautiful Eyes”, and a live debut of her Kylie Minogue cover, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”.

But it wasn’t just about the music. Coldplay’s commitment to sustainability was evident in every aspect of the show: from the kinetic floors and power bikes that fans energised to the LED wristbands made from recycled materials, their concert was a blueprint for eco-friendly entertainment.

Perhaps the most unique and contested element was the inclusion of The Weirdos’ puppets, the fictional alien puppet band created by Coldplay for “Biutyful”. The bizarre duets were embraced by the most joyful in the crowd, but Martin personally addressed the rest: “To all the tough guys in the audience, thank you for putting up with all the aliens and the puppets and all of that shit.”

The sky was full of stars and our eyes were filling with rising baby baths thanks to penultimate tear-jerker “Fix You”. Captain Chris did indeed transport us to another planet, and in true Coldplay fashion, it was a shared journey, a testament to the band’s ethos of inclusion and connection.