Lights, color, singalongs, and great concert recollections ruled this author’s surprise Coldplay Live in Manila experience
One typical manic Monday in the Metro, a frantic group message by my friend started my day, like a shot of espresso would hit a night crawler: she just scored three Coldplay concert tickets (thanks to her sister’s connections) and she’s taking me and another available friend with her tomorrow night!
“It’s clearly a sign!” I exclaimed in my head. I actually imagined something like this would happen to me late last year, when it was officially announced that the British band would be playing at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds on April 4th.
So when the PH tickets got sold out in a matter of hours, I didn’t panic. The same feeling of calmness and confidence occurred even when the Singapore, and then Thailand, then Taiwan, and then South Korea seats (a.k.a. my imaginary Plans B, C, D, and E) got sold out as well. I had sensed I would still see Coldplay regardless.
Months later my prediction came true. I would see—OK, more like hear Coldplay live, and my knowledge of it came one day before the actual event. And while the free tickets wouldn’t place us inches away from Chris Martin’s utterly enticing boyish showmanship either—we got Bronze, the next to the farthest section—we were simply grateful for the surprise gift and the opportunity to hear our favorite songs of the group live for the very first time.
You see to us, Coldplay is arguably this generation’s U2. They work up your emotions through an elaborate choice of words and phrasing and combine that with unique melodies on top of their signature Britpop rock flare. And, no one dislikes Coldplay music, really. They’re cool by general standards.
My friend and I are one of those who happens to level-headedly dig Coldplay music. We won’t die for them nor dream of sleeping with the frontman or anything… well, maybe a little, but as in many aspects of life, we’ve basically outgrown fanaticism years ago. I guess to us, practicality trumps momentary exhausting happiness with matching holes in our wallets too. But, give us free passes and an open schedule and we’re full-on Coldplay fantards for the entire evening.
Uber-ing from Las Pinas to Pasay, my girl friend and I arrived at an already swarmed MoA. Around 30 minutes in and our impatience (“Why is the line this long?” “It’s already 8 p.m., I guess they’re starting late like Mariah did in 2003.” “I didn’t bring an ID. What if they asked for an ID?”) started to show itself until the time we got to the open grounds about 20 minutes before 9 o’clock.
Whoever the opening act was, and God bless her soul, I kind of felt bad for her because she had to do her hour-long set with a little less lively than usual Filipino audience, who simply couldn’t wait for Coldplay to finally take over the stage. (We’re better than that back there, I promise.) My theory was everyone’s either hungry, tired, cranky, or wisely reserving all their energy for the main act. We were definitely all of the above. I was more disappointed with the fact that I couldn’t see shit from where my 5’0” body was standing: 50 meters away from the stage, in the middle of a crowd all taller than me.
It was a little past 10 p.m., when it went completely dark, immediately igniting a different energy from the crowd, who were all convinced that Coldplay was finally about to go onstage for real this time. Suddenly, the lights came back on…
They sensed it right.
“Man,” I thought, “I wasn’t even supposed to be here,” as Chris Martin ran around on stage (I imagined) in true Chris Martin fashion, while fireworks from behind the stage cast different hues of light onto the awestruck faces of the spectators. And the spectators, mostly with their flickering arms raised while they took videos of the performance, sang along to the songs, screaming, with a faint of excitement they simply couldn’t contain so their voices would sometimes crack unlike ex-Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow’s adorable falsettos.
About two or three songs in and all of a sudden the intro to “Yellow” came in, triggering louder shrieks from the audience. It was still by far their most popular song. And all I really hoped for the entire time was for them to play their older hits for us geezers. I mean, I mistook “Viva La Vida” for “Livin’ La Vida Loca” as the title, so do you know where I’m coming from now?
Anyway, not only did we get “Yellow”, we got “The Scientist”, “Clocks”, Trouble”, “Fix You”, and my most favorite, “In My Place”. All the whining, the sweating, the smelly person beside us, the achy back and neck, the not-seeing-anything-remotely-close-to-Chris-Martin’s-shape-on-the-faraway-stage—all those issues went out the window when they started playing “In My Place” during the encore.
Yes, all in all, what originally was supposed to be another forgettable Tuesday turned out to be one of the best concert experiences of my life—and I’ve been to some really great and truly memorable shows, and with better views and/or seats, too—let’s see, Mariah Carey in 2003, Christina Aguilera in 2007, the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2014, Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in 2010, Janet Jackson in 2011, Death Cab For Cutie in 2012, The Radio Dept. in 2011, Stone Temple Pilots also in 2011, The Killers in 2013, Maroon 5 another one in 2011, Jason Mraz in 2013, Tahiti 80 again in 2011 (wow, I really went for it that year, huh?), and Sting in 2012. I’m pretty sure there are many others and I’ll remember them eventually, but right now my memory’s just too embarrassed to confess. (Fine, I saw the Pussycat Dolls, too.)
Then again, I partly blame this on my concert abstinence for the past two years that after many months of staying away from one of my favorite vices, the sudden exposure stirred up my old love for the activity once more. It’s like when I went back to eating red meat in 2015, after almost a decade of eschewing it for health reasons, but that’s another story.
Also, it might have been the fact that I’m in a much greater and more exciting place in my personal life and career now. It’s a classic case of food-tasted-better and air-smelled-sweeter—my Coldplay experience was extraordinary because I was feeling more awesome.
So thanks, Coldplay. And thanks to my friend for having a sister (obviously not from our generation) who gave us the tickets. It was, indeed, about due for my dozed-off concert head to reawaken and the timing couldn’t have gotten any better.