x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Coldplay rings in an Abu Dhabi New Year

The band welcomed in 2012 with a highly polished performance.

Coldplay on stage on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi.
Coldplay on stage on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi.

Coldplay's rain-soaked 2009 performance at Emirates Palace has become part of modern UAE folklore, with drenched Chris Martin crooning Singing in the Rain remaining a lasting image.

This time, however, the group returned to the capital to ring in the New Year and were met by a crowd of more than 20,000 who didn't mind crawling through hours of snail-pace traffic at Corniche Road before going through the greater struggle of getting through concert gates.

The quartet waltzed on to the stage to a short burst of fireworks. The celebratory mood was set with the ethereal instrumental opener Mylo Xyloto before launching into pop-static Hurt Like Heaven.

One begins to appreciate the number of hits Coldplay has notched up in their 15-year career when they are now able to perform former concert closer, the shimmering Yellow, as the third song of the set.

It also gave the audience their first chance to warm up their singing voices as they drowned out Martin's falsetto during the chorus.

Next up was In My Place, which saw Martin race through a blizzard of star-shaped confetti to the group's second stage; a small space near the edge of the Fan Pit, a barrier that the band could access courtesy of the T-shaped design of the main stage.

While the group's old hits such as the piano-led Science and the noxiously sweet Fix You still left many in the crowd a tad misty-eyed, it's the new dancier material from Mylo Xyloto that went down a treat.

Major Minus confirms the suspicion that the group may have been listening to early Kasabian during their recording sessions, as it gave the group's congenial live persona a new dimension: strut.

In the folky Us Against the World - which Martin explains tells "the story of the band" (don't know about that, as NWA these lads are not) - the whole group performed in intimate mode on the second stage, with Martin and drummer Will Champion singing mournfully and movingly.

Charlie Brown was the concert highlight. It is here you see how the band may not be far off from knocking U2 down from their perch as the biggest concert drawcard.

Where the latter rely on the chemistry between Bono and The Edge, the trance-ish Charlie Brown is a brilliant display of the band's virtuosity, with each member upping his game.

Led from the back by the group's underrated rhythm section of (the increasingly theatrical) Champion, and understated bassist Guy Berryman, the group soared in the chorus on the back of guitarist Jonny Buckland's signature spidery riffs.

The follow-ups, which began with the propulsive Clocks performed at 10 minutes to midnight, began the anticipation for the New Year's Eve countdown; and the cinematic Paradise was neatly finished with one minute to go.

However, for a group who so brilliantly captured the moment in 2009, they seemed uncertain what to do with the midnight countdown, with Martin merely strolling back down the stage as the clock struck midnight.

The anticlimax was underscored by the group seemingly hurrying to finish off the set closer Every Tear Drop Is a Waterfall before brusquely leaving the stage without an encore - not a crime if it had been a regular festival appearance, but for an NYE occasion, it seemed abrupt. Playing a little longer would have been a nice touch in what was otherwise a supremely polished performance.

As for the organisers, perhaps the concert would also trigger a fresh New Year resolution: stick to hosting concerts in the Yas Arena on Yas Island, as the tight two lanes leading up to the Volvo Ocean Race Destination Village on the Corniche Breakwater proved testing for even the happiest of revellers.

sasaeed@thenational.ae