MANILA — In a makeshift concert venue behind Mall of Asia, on a surprisingly clement night, an expectant crowd awaits. Coldplay is to perform at about 9 in the evening, but people are already bunched up at the front as early as before sunset.
The hard, concrete floor makes the wait more uncomfortable than it should have been despite the already forgiving fair weather, but as the fan shuffling begins to settle to a stop, the glistening groove of "A Head Full Of Dreams" starts to play and a joyous roar greets Chris Martin and his band's first-ever concert in Manila.
Over two hours, Coldplay takes Filipinos on a fist-pumping adventure into their remarkable career, spanning more than 17 years, filled with club-thumping bangers and heartfelt soft rock — all paired with colorful stage lighting, fireworks, and confetti.
Given a versatile space — there is a 30-meter long runway that extends from the main stage — Martin shows off his endless energy, like a man letting loose on a dancefloor after a heartbreak, as he orchestrates the willing crowd that's more than happy to jump and belt out hit after hit at his request.
He is a seasoned frontman who knows how to play the audience, quipping that their past concerts are all just "rehearsals" for their tour de force here in the country.
There are stand-out moments such as during "Fix You," when thousands, with their LED wristbands raised up to form a kaleidoscopic glittering sea, sang the "lights will guide you home" line along with Martin over and over again.
Another is his performance of the piano-driven "Everglow." The message of the band's latest album is radically optimistic: the world is beautiful — and this view feels most genuine in this one, where Martin asks everyone to send love to whomever may need it; and when he unpacked "Ink" for a Filipino fan who bought tickets for their show but couldn't make it after being diagnosed with cancer.
Despite all the positivity, Martin is guilty of a few hiccups here and there. In arranging their set, momentum is lost in between the faster ones such as "Paradise" and their slower-paced favorites such as "Always in My Head." There is also an awkward pause whenever they transfer stages, and lyrics are occasionally forgotten.
Ultimately though, these faults, as well as the exorbitant ticket prices, didn't matter. The show feels like a love letter to fans, whose adoration for the band is radiating from everyone who has tears in their eyes.
Filipinos have been waiting more than a decade and a half for this and from the get-go were promised an adventure. Coldplay certainly did not disappoint and gave one that will resonate with die-hard Pinoy fans for a lifetime.
Coldplay in Manila was made possible by MMI Live.