We all meet up around noon to head over to the first festival show. Coincidentally, it’s the exact time that the new single breaks cover and hits the radio waves for the first time.
Everyone wanders into the lounge with different news: "They gave it a rewind – so good they played it again straight away"; "Twitter has gone absolutely berserk"; "I can’t even get on the fan sites they’re so busy – one of them is completely down".
It’s a bit of a Team Coldplay gathering, with various management folks, some EMIs – even producer Markus Dravs is here to visit his homeland for a couple days.
The band, of course – the eye of this very hurricane – float in looking oblivious to anything going on at all. They are focused on the job in hand, namely playing a blinder of a festival show to get us off the blocks.
It’s kind of a strange thing going back to doing huge shows after such a long gap. You know that this once felt very comfortable and familiar, but you feel one step removed from it, as if perhaps you shouldn’t really be here. It’s a little like revisiting your old school classroom several years after you took off the tie for the last time.
I imagine that the "slightly unfamiliar" vibe wasn’t just limited to us folks. There was a fair chunk of new material tonight – a whole six songs of it – only one tune of which anyone in the audience stood any chance of having heard before.
The new stuff, though, is well received and people are clearly very excited to be hearing fresh work. It’s inevitable that brand new tunes receive an “attentive listen”, whereas the familiar chiming chords of the Viva intro ignite the place like a firework. It’s a brave and necessary move, though. Festivals particularly, could easily be a time to load the bomb bay with hit after crowd-pleasing hit to ensure rapturous applause throughout – putting yourself in the best light in front of the maximum number of people.
There would be an underlying weakness in that, though – like you’re admitting that all your best stuff is behind you and it’s those songs from years past that people are really here for. But this band is not a greatest-hits act yet. They are still striving to produce their finest and most potent work.
Given the way Jonny lets rip in HLH, I’d say that’s just what they’re doing.
Another point of note comes during UATW. Chris begins alone on acoustic guitar. Will joins him at the tiny pump organ and chimes in on backing vocal – earning him quite the hugest cheer I’ve ever heard for a simple harmony. The fact that it’s a tune nobody in the field has ever heard before seems somehow to make the response more genuine. Definite moment…
Obviously, all the favourites are present, correct and kicking plenty of the proverbial. The most glorious production moment is a completely unplanned one in Fix You. As the mobile phones get held aloft, Chris asks for all of the stage lights to be killed. Suddenly it’s just the sea of little blue lights and the song. Nothing else – and really, what else do you need?
The set closes with Every Teardrop… and it’s completely evident that it’s a great festival tune. It’ll be interesting actually, to see how the audience response changes as this song drills its way into the public conscience. I’m expecting each show to see it greeted more and more rapturously until it gets the same treatment as the Clocks piano riff or the Viva strings.
Overall, you couldn’t ask for a more solid first night. There are a million tweaks to make, a whole load of things that’ll slip into place, but for now it feels a little less like we’re visiting an old haunt and a lot more like we’re back where we belong…