Sensing which way the wind was blowing, Coldplay have long since swapped emotive indie-rock for a more modern electronic pop sound: see tonight’s unrelenting house-y “A Sky Full of Stars” and the R&B-flavoured “Hymn for the Weekend”. But the new album’s duets with Selena Gomez and world-conquering K-pop boyband BTS have a slight air of desperation, as if the collaborations were made purely thinking about Spotify streaming stats. It brought about some of the worst reviews of their career.
The flip side to that is their new material – much of it big and brash – couldn’t be better suited to the vastness of Coldplay’s stadium show. Opener “Higher Power” and “Humankind” are precision tooled synth-pop that show Martin’s way with a melody remains intact; the autotuned ballad “Human Heart”, with the stadium lit up in giant red hearts, is the sort of thing only Coldplay could get away with on this scale; with its soaring synths, that BTS collaboration “My Universe”, with the Korean band featured on the big screens, is actually the poppiest they’ve ever sounded, which is saying something. It gets one of the most ecstatic reactions of the night.