Last Wednesday we had a family outing to the National Stadium here in Warsaw to see the Coldplay concert. Why they chose Wednesday for a gig that finished at 11pm I don’t know, especially as they must have expected a few nine year olds who have school the next day :-/ We were not entirely sure about taking Zosia but she likes Coldplay and it seemed a good chance to give her an early experience of a live concert in the stadium. As it turns out she was not alone and not the youngest we saw. My own first concert, by the way, came in 1973 when I went in my early teens (without parents) to the “New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert” to Wembley Arena and enjoyed the glam rock of Slade. I may be old but they are still playing “So here it is, Merry Christmas!” on the radio every year, even in Poland! This memorabilia is tempting for 45 quid.
I had bought the Coldplay tickets some months ago , a well located seating area (trybuny), VO5, close to the stage. Tickets were 275 zlots each and it was worth it as the view was great and the seats surprisingly spacious and comfy, not that we were sitting too long. The standing area where the pitch would be (płyta) was sold out, more than Madonna could manage, and the seats were also full with the exception of those right up in the Gods. My guess is attendance was around 60,000 but I can’t find any official figures online.
The stadium as a venue worked very well although they need to improve signage to help people find their places. Entrance to our VO5 for example was through a doorway called VO1-VO2 and then onto D20 and then turn left and keep walking! Outside, around the perimeter of the stadium we could find no signs to show us the right way to walk around the stadium to find the correct entrance. The stewards were nice but not all that clued up. Getting in was easy with very small queues, getting out was slower but not horrendous and nice to completely pedestrianise the bridge back to town.
Inside it is an impressive arena with all-round good visibility but there are mixed reviews on the acoustics. I suppose it depends on your expectations. I had heard bad things about the acoustics so was pleasantly surprised. You can’t expect anything like the recorded work in a massive arena with an open roof and trying to please everyone in a 270 degree radius but there was nothing we heard beyond the occasional echo off the back wall that detracted in any way from our enjoyment. Those I know who were on the płyta said the sound was good down there too.
The band communicated with the audience very well. I thought Chris Martin was perhaps a little OTT on the “I love Poland” stuff, unless he really truly does. There were many similar comments along with waving Polish flags, kissing the stage (in a Popeish way) and so forth. It’s a big country, they can sell a lot of stuff here and the audience lapped it up. There was no shortage of gimmicks either – fireworks, balloons, confetti, videos, lasers, walkways, islands…..you name it. best gadget was the LED illuminated wristbands (Xylobands). Everyone was given one on entry, different colours. They consist of a small plastic box that houses a battery and the controls and then a fabric wristband with LED lights inside. They are radio controlled and the band can light up the audience whenever they want, often to the rhythm of the music. You can read more about the set and the xylobands here.
They switched between ballads and louder stuff with ease and musically they were pretty tight all the way through. Chris Martin’s singing was impressive given the length of the tour so far but he seemed to turn the quality setting up and down a bit, lower when had to force something out and higher when there was nothing much to cover him up. This is compared to the recorded work, which is unfair. They were far more rocky than you might imagine and I often got flashes of U2 coming through. I read later that U2 were/are a big influence for Coldplay and whilst I’d never picked that up on the recorded work I certainly did at the gig. What I like about gigs is the way you can find an appreciation for tunes that you hadn’t already switched on to. Major Minus and Us Against the World stood out more than they do on the CD, for example. I might have misjudged but I think the Polish audience gave the biggest shout of joy for Viva La Vida but were generally energised throughout.
Quick mention for the support acts, neither of which were known to us. The first, Charli XCX, we missed because they were first on after opening at 16:00 and we didn’t get there until 20:00. The second, Marina and the Diamonds, were strange but actually pretty good and well worth finding a download or CD. Her drummer looked like a right nutter, in the Keith Moon mould of nutty drummers!
We had a great time and give the Coldplay gig a rocking 8/10. Lets hope it brings more big acts to Warsaw.
Below – set list, video, photos.
- Mylo Xyloto
- Hurts Like Heaven
- In My Place
- Major Minus
- Lovers In Japan
- The Scientist
- Violet Hill
- God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
- Princess Of China
- Up In Flames
- Warning Sign
- Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
- Viva La Vida
- Charlie Brown
- Us Against The World
- Speed Of Sound
- Fix You
- Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall