Coldplay continued their World Tour with a one night stop at Sunderlands Stadium of Light. With incessant rainfall, a rather wet 50,000 fans were rewarded with one of the best live shows currently on the road anywhere in the world. It was fitting that Chris Martin and co. brought the show to a close with Every Tear is a Waterfall as tears and waterfalls were served up in equal measure in Sunderland as the cold and rain set upon the waiting 50,000 Northerners present, challenging even the toughest stereotypes who had favoured t-shirts and short skirts over waterproofs normally favoured by hardy explorers. But frankly by the end of the night no one could have cared less. With Rita Ora and Robyn offering support, gazebos were a necessary on-stage prop to protect equipment as they warmed up the crowd, showcasing their biggest hits and distracting from the steadily increasing dampness. The R&B/Jazz/Dance/Electro/Pop sound both offer wasnt necessarily something the average Coldplay fan would have been interested in but both were entertaining and worked to involve everyone. With the rain offering no respite, the crowd kept in good spirits while waiting for the nights main entertainment to arrive. As the stage hands desperately tried to brush the water off the stage until the last possible moment, eventually the tarpaulins covering the instruments went off, the lights went down and the tantalising Please put on your wristband, it's part of the show signs disappeared. With the Back to the Future theme score welcoming them on, the band leapt onto the stage and got things flying with Hurts like Heaven, the stage lights going into overdrive and incessant fireworks meant there was a sensory overload that had everyone bouncing around in instantaneous glee. A kaleidoscopic light show dazzled as the radio controlled wristbands everyone had been given sparkled into life like multi-coloured stars creating an arena of light and sound that completely swept you away. Chris Martin when not needed on piano and guitar duty cavorted down the runways into the middle of the crowd and to the sides, covering every available inch of the stage and literally rolling around to the enchantment of the nearby fans. A phenomenal opening somehow got even better as air canons launched thousands of confetti butterflies onto the crowd, the rain ensuring everyone was plastered in multi-coloured paper Mache for the rest of the night. Next up about 50 huge multi-coloured balloons were thrown to the crowd to bounce around creating a joyous and playful atmosphere that crackled with excitement and delight. Slower songs like The Scientist brought a more minimalist AV approach as the last of balloons disappeared down the back of the crowd and the band worked their way through their older tracks before moving to the end of the central walkway for a semi-acoustic set, the highlight of which for the younger fans was new single Princess of China, featuring a video cameo of Rhianna on the big screens. Having worked their way through the sing-along, arm-waving part of the show, they moved back to the main stage and upped the tempo with more wristband featuring songs, the darkening stadium meaning the effect became increasingly mesmerising. With the crowd still bouncing after Charlie Brown, eventually the torrential rain started to have an effect and prompted a change of piano as Chris Martin was forced to stop as he played the gurgled opening chords of Paradise. The crowd filled time chanting the wooohhhh oh oh chorus from Vida La Vida as the crew worked rapidly to wheel out dryer equipment. New piano in situ, the show got back underway. The band disappeared for the customary break before the encore and took everyone by surprise when they appeared on a smaller stage at the back of the stadium, much to the pleasure of the fans at the rear, each band member entering separately to build up to a full rendition of Us Against the World and then Speed of Sound. Finally the band returned again to the main stage and brought the night to a close, the energetic Clocks making full use of the last of the wristbands batteries and producing a hypnotic light show when coupled with the lasers that created a ceiling of light above the standing fans that stretched back across the width of the stadium. The emotional Fix You followed with the increasingly hoarse and wet crowd matching the band in giving their all and being dazzled by yet more fireworks at the song's crescendo before the closing track brought the house down. All the lights were turned on full for one last time, the five massive circular video walls dancing with images of the band and graffiti as the pyrotechnics lit up the sky again and again to bring an incredible night to a close. The crowd, soggy of foot and sore of throat, applauded and cheered what was an incredible performance as the band took their bows. The local metro train strikes and rain could quite easily have put a dampener on things, literally, but this was a spectacle of the highest measure that embraced all your senses and delivered more than was expected from even the most loyal of fan. A fantastic night from a fantastic band.
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Jeff Ball is a Geordie with a Newcastle Falcons season ticket, a rugby coaching badge, a bias for Newcastle United on Playstation games and was terrified by Jurassic Park as a child. For more of his personal musings following him on Twitter @JeffreyBall
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