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As listening parties go, this was the ultimate.
Coldplay took over a giant sound stage at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City for three intimate shows to preview songs from their upcoming album, Ghost Stories — their first for Parlophone/Atlantic — scheduled for release May 19.
Eight hundred lucky fans at each of the three performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights — either chosen online through the Citi Thank You card members program or “friends and family” — got to see the band perform the new album up close and personal, set amid an enchanted forest complete with 360-degree video screens and lasers. Coldplay previously previewed several of the songs for Apple’s iTunes Festival at the recent SXSW.
The unfailingly gracious Chris Martin greeted the audience — who were asked to leave their cell phones at the door — by explaining that the show was being taped for a DVD and future NBC special before the band, in the round, launched into “Paradise” and “Clocks,” returning to the stage to do the entire new album in order.
Martin donned a harness to hover above the crowd and spin around — like Pink meets Cirque de Soleil — for “Always in My Head,” jokingly claiming that his band needs “smoke and mirrors” to compete with the likes of One Direction and Harry Styles’ perfect hair. After complaining about how the contraption gave him “chafing in my underwear in a place you don’t want,” he returned to perform the song again without the apparatus.
The album’s first single, “Magic,” got a warm reception, while “Ink” seemed to be about getting a tattoo, with Martin strumming an acoustic guitar. “Midnight” was a highlight, with Martin and bassist Guy Berryman making music by playing the laser beams like a harp. “Another’s Arms” and “Oceans” were both atmospheric numbers, awash with ambient Eno-esque water motifs, leading to the show-stopping “A Sky Full of Stars,” a massive chiming anthem for guitarist Jonny Buckland in the surging “Clocks” mode that was accompanied by a flurry of star-shaped confetti.
Martin was back at the piano for the mostly solo “O,” with drummer Will Champion providing subtle guitar licks. After a brief pause, they returned to the stage for a rousing “Viva la Vida” and “Fix You,” which brought the hour-long set to a conclusion.
With no Ghost Stories touring plans announced (or interviews for the album), this may well be the last time in a while that fans have a chance to see the band play live. If that’s true, it was one for the ages, as Martin, typically self-effacing, thanked the crowd for “spending our Saturday night” with them.
Always in My Head
A Sky Full of Stars
Viva la Vida
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