Last Night: Coldplay at The Pepsi Center: Denver, Colorado

Text: Randy Washington Photos: (iPhone) Robert Castro

AWD and Coldplay's Viva La Vida Tour found itself at the Pepsi Center friday night; home of the Avs, Nuggets, Mammoth, Crush, and the the dirtiest old man for a bartender we have ever seen.
The Viva Tour opener was an El Paso band called Sleepercar. We have a bit of an affinity for bands from Texas but Sleepercar is just an amazing band. When hearing them start up, it made me wonder how this very Texas sound had any connection with Coldplay's"non-Texas" sound. Turns out that Sleepercar's founder Jim Ward (of At the Drive-In and Sparta), met the band in LA in 2000 at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas. While on a European tour with Coldplay in 2001, At The Drive-In cancelled the last bit of tour dates and still hung around with the band. Ward and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin knew that it was a proper fit when Sleepercar's album dropped.

Jon Hopkins took the stage after Sleeper Car. Under a single white spotlight and in front of a large projection screen, he started out his musical/video morphing set with looping animated clips behind him. His innovative electronic show was seamless and captivating. Hooked up by producer Brian Eno, Hopkins has known the band for about two years now and collaborated with them on a number of tracks on Viva La Vida as a producer and playing a couple of instruments. The Viva La Vida tour reaches all the way back to June 29th and will roll deep in to 2009. Running off three already rooted albums and being boosted by the summer release of the album of the same name, the VLV show is incredible. Without knowing that they have been on tour already for close to six months, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to think that this was the first stop of their tour.

Opening the set out with Life in Technicolor, things started big and stayed big. Each song was its own moment. I'm not saying that the stage was lit a different color for each song. I mean that each song had a different back drop, had different video elements, and took place at different parts of the arena. Five giant LED globes bobbled up and down from the lighting grid projecting live video in a rad fisheye manner. The grid itself was mobile, constantly dropping and twisting. The backdrop changed from solid black to giant banners to video. All the while the band switched between instruments and stages throughout the Pepsi Center.

One of the more memorable moments of the show took place at the bottom of the stage left catwalk. When the band got down there, the bottom section glowed like a nasty 70's disco dance floor and held an electric piano and a drum machine. The boys went on to play both God Put a Smile on your face and Talk in the illest synth versions. Later on in the show, after playing new track Lost!, the ensemble made their way clear to the back and top of the venue where yet another stage was waiting for them.
"We just wanted to make the people on the floor feel like they totally overpaid," Martin joked before launching into an acoustic version of The Scientist.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Will Champion on drums." Martin introduced. Champion sweetly played a light song called Death Will Never Conquer.
When the cheapseat set was over, a phone waving rave broke out during the Viva La Vida remix giving plenty of time to let the band walk al the way back to the big stage and slam into Politik.
During Lovers in Japan a blizzard of millions of paper butterflies fell from the celling covering pretty much every seat in the house.

With four major albums and lengthy, pricey tours, I was expecting this to a standard stadium tour show. You know, like, no matter where you are sitting, the band is still a million miles away....they come on and perform all the favorites and do an encore and call it a night. This Coldplay show was the exact opposite. These four were having a blast on stage and wanted everyone in the venue to join in. They played the perfect mix of old and new and not at one point in the show did Martin phone it in. Coldplay may be the most gracious and fan-driven band of this caliber. Because they were so thankful, I'll thank them back by making sure to never miss a show that comes through town. If you've never seen them live, you should. You will not be let down.