What Coldplay brought to Manila for their Filipino fans

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Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — If “A Head Full of Dreams” is Coldplay’s final tour, then the band closed their seven-album career with an outsized love song to their fans and the world — complete with pyrotechnics and a lot of confetti.

The shows of this tour open with a sample from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” a preview of what will go down in the next two hours. “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery,” the Chaplin clip proclaims as the words slowly make way for the opening song, “A Head Full of Dreams.” As the album title indicates, Coldplay is all about hope and liberation. The band’s current mindset is motivated towards a brand of arena rock that is both powerful and uplifting.

"We’ve been wanting to come here for a long time," says Chris Martin on their long-awaited concert in Manila. Photo by JL JAVIER

Coldplay's current mindset is motivated towards a brand of arena rock that is both powerful and uplifting. Photo by JL JAVIER

At times, you’ll hear the audience singing louder than frontman Chris Martin. Coldplay’s wristbands — “Xylobands,” which were first used in their “Mylo Xyloto” tour in 2012 — transform lighters and jelly bands to wearable tech that lights up and changes colors according to song, lending a more visceral atmosphere to the whole concert.

It’s nice to know that the band hasn’t let go of their brand of optimism since declaring “We live in a beautiful world” in “Don’t Panic” from their first album, “Parachutes.” And most of the songs on the tour setlist emphasize this worldview, as seen in earlier songs such as “Viva La Vida” and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and newer tracks such as “Adventure of a Lifetime” and “Up & Up.”

A few hours before the concert, CNN Philippines Life sat with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and lead guitarist and co-founder Jonny Buckland and talked about finally playing in the Philippines, building the “A Head Full of Dreams” tour and what the album might mean for the band’s future

Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin, hours before Coldplay's concert in Manila. Photo by JL JAVIER

Coldplay's concert tickets sold out in mere minutes after their concert was announced. "We’re trying to appreciate that while it’s happening," says Martin. Photo by JL JAVIER

You guys have had six tours since “A Rush of Blood to the Head” back in 2002. Why’d you finally decide to include the Philippines?

Chris Martin: Well, we’ve been wanting to come here for a long time. We’ve met a lot of people over the years from the Philippines, in all kinds of places and enough time to people have said, “When will you come to the Philippines?” And I think we just got tired of saying, “Oh we don’t know.” So we were like, let’s just go. And so that’s why we’re here, and so far, we just feel so excited to be here, so grateful to be here. Everybody we’ve met has been very sweet, and it’s making us very fired up for the concert.

I’m sure a lot of people have probably told you this, but they say the Filipino audience is the best. What are your expectations from the show?

Jonny Buckland: Just driving in a car past the crowd has been incredible enough, so I think it’s gonna be amazing. We’re really excited.

Your tours have since increased in size, except for the intimate venues for the “Ghost Stories” tour. Can you tell us more about the concept of “A Head Full of Dreams” tour?

Chris Martin: The idea of this tour is to be totally liberated and totally accepting of everybody in the world. That’s sort of the theme of it. It’s a tour about acceptance, and love, and the things that bring us all together. And the great joy for us has been seeing these amazing audiences in so many different places, singing and dancing. It gives us a lot of hope and a lot of faith at a time when it’s easy to lose hope and lose faith in the world. The theme for us is like anything is possible; you just set your dreams and you go for them. It’s supposed to be an optimistic kind of atmosphere.

The leg of Coldplay's "A Head Full of Dreams" tour in Manila came with pyrotechnics and a lot of confetti. Photo by JL JAVIER

During the concert, it was apparent that the band hasn’t let go of their brand of optimism since declaring “We live in a beautiful world” in “Don’t Panic” from their first album, “Parachutes.” Photo by JL JAVIER

How have your previous tours influenced the way you produced the current one?

Chris Martin: We tend to keep the best bits of the last tour and then put them in the new one so we keep accumulating good things. We were really inspired by The Flaming Lips, [a band] that we used to go and see a lot. Each tour they would have some new cool thing but they’d still keep the old cool thing, too. So we have that, our wristbands, lasers, this and that. And so [we’re] just always building this bag of fun production stuff.

Jonny Buckland: The previous tours have kind of been building up to this, I think. We could have never gotten to this point without those.

What are some of the songs you don’t get tired of playing?

Chris Martin: I think all of the songs that we’re going to play today, we aren’t tired of them, are we?

Jonny Buckland: No, not at all. I think the songs that we’re tired of, we don’t play. [Laughs]

Chris Martin: We’re lucky we have a lot of songs now. [If] we have a song we’re not so into, then [we] just don’t do it.

You told Rolling Stone that “All of our records were a journey to get to this one ['A Head Full of Dreams'].” Hearing the fullness of the album, what do you think is the common thread that links “Parachutes” all the way to the latest one?

Chris Martin: I’d say the only connecting thread is it’s come from the same people’s brains, and that we’ve always made a decision not to be … not to try and be cool … always kind of being honest about where we are in our lives and how we’re feeling about the world, so in a way those seven albums are kind of like a diary of the person going from young 20s to late 30s, and just how you see the world and what we’ve learned in that time … how we look at the world differently to how we did seven albums ago.

"The idea of this tour is to be totally liberated and totally accepting of everybody in the world," says Chris Martin. Photo by JL JAVIER

It’s been said that “A Head Full of Dreams” might be your final record. But now that you’re on tour, how are you projecting the future of the band?

Chris Martin: We don’t know. We’ll see. Right now, we’re just playing in Manila.

Jonny Buckland: And we’re very happy to be on tour, very happy to be hanging out together. We’ll see what happens.

But judging from the reception of the audiences around the world … your concerts have been sold out in mere minutes ...

Chris Martin: Yeah, isn’t that amazing?

Jonny Buckland: [Laughs]

Chris Martin: It’s crazy. So we’re trying to appreciate that while it’s happening … not worried too much about the future.

You have more pronounced influences of “A Head Full of Dreams” — from Rumi to even Flo Rida, and a long list of collaborators too, from Stargate to Beyoncé. How did you make sure all of these things formed a cohesive whole?

Chris Martin: I think by process of trial and error, and also by feeling of … often when we make an album, we have a sort of framework in mind. We have an intention of how it’s supposed to feel as a whole, a story we’re trying to tell, and the world we’re trying to create. And then it’s very easy to know which songs fit and which songs don’t. Sometimes we have a new song which we really like, but it might not fit in that certain album so we keep it for something else.