In between two of UCLA’s largest annual concerts – Spring Sing and the JazzReggae Festival – British rock band Coldplay set upon Royce Hall Monday night to celebrate the international release of its sixth studio album “Ghost Stories.”
Packing Royce Hall to its full capacity, the concert was Coldplay’s only West Coast appearance during the band’s mini world tour, which began in Cologne, Germany, on April 25 and will conclude with a London show on July 1.
After the British trip-hop trio London Grammar performed a 30-minute set to open the concert, Coldplay took the stage just after 9:30 p.m.
Coldplay launched into its performance with “Atlas,” a song the band wrote for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Taking to the mic, frontman Chris Martin announced to the crowd that the Royce Hall performance would mimic an intimate album release party.
When the band jumped into its second song of the night, “Charlie Brown,” off of 2011’s “Mylo Xyloto,” however, a bombastic light show transformed the 1800-seat auditorium into a full-on arena spectacle fit for thousands.
Throughout the rest of Coldplay’s set, this line between an intimate performance and an arena show was blurred and often left the feeling that the concert was consistently expanding and receding upon itself.
When Martin took to his piano to perform classic Coldplay hits such as “The Scientist,” there was raw emotion behind Martin’s voice. It’s been a dozen years since Martin, now 37 years old, first sang the second single to the band’s sophomore album, “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” and his voice was noticeably weaker, but the crowd was supportive of the famed lead singer and helped him through his poor points.
At other moments during the night, however, Coldplay’s high-flown, anthemic performances of singles “Paradise” and “Viva la Vida” brought the crowd to its feet and may have taken away from the overall intimacy of the band’s performance.
The second half of Coldplay’s 18-song set saw the mega pop-rock group performing song after song from its highly-anticipated new release, “Ghost Stories,” including the album’s lead single “Magic.”
During the song “Midnight,” guitarist Guy Berryman performed an electronic accompaniment to Martin’s vocoder – a vocal synthesizer – in the form of a laser harp, which colored the ceiling of Royce Hall while Martin crouched on the stage to croon the monotone vocals of the song.
After the band returned to the stage to finish out the three-song encore, the plastic stars above the stage lit up and confetti was launched into the air as Martin led the band into “A Sky Full of Stars,” the third single off “Ghost Stories.”
Winding down the show, the band performed its anthemic hit song “Yellow” before Martin sat at the piano for the last time to perform “O,” the final track on “Ghost Stories.”
While the choice to end with a non-established track might have left concertgoers estranged, Coldplay gathered together afterward, taking bows and thanking its West Coast fans. On a night that saw one of the biggest commercial musical acts in the world release a highly anticipated international album, perhaps it’s only right that Coldplay end its Royce Hall show with a hint of what the future of the rock band has in store.