Front row seats to Coldplay

Raleigh, North Carolina

We’re big fans of Coldpay but neither of us have seen them in concert. So, we were pretty psyched to score lawn tickets to last night’s show at the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek. With taxes, surcharges and facility fees, they ran $55 a pop.

We didn’t have much interest in the openers and Coldplay wasn’t scheduled to come on until 9 p.m., so we left at 7:15 p.m. thinking that should probably give us an hour or so to tailgate in the parking lot. Our plan was quickly foiled though when we spotted the never-ending line of cars backed up for several miles attempting to exit the highway. Some MacGyver-esque maneuvers on my part cut out some of the delay but it still wasn’t until 8:30 p.m. that we were able to park.

After a couple of beers, we squeezed our way onto the crowded lawn; our view was partially obstructed by the pavilion but it was about the best we could do as the band exploded onto stage with “Violet Hill.” The show itself would soon prove to be a spectacle — with huge yellow balloons floating over the crowd during “Yellow,” confetti cannons exploding with the chorus of “Lovers in Japan,” and Martin leading the crowd in a cell phone “wave.”

During “Lost,” a flurry of movement to our immediate right caught my attention. Five or six members of the crew were quickly building and setting up what looked like a platform. When a mic and guitar were placed on top of the makeshift stage, we quickly moved toward it as a crush of people followed behind us.

As the lights dimmed, Chris Martin and the band hopped off the main stage and made their way to the lawn platform. And suddenly, we had front row seats to a Coldplay concert.

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Watching from just feet away, they jammed out an acoustic set of “Green Eyes” and “Death Will Never Conquer,” with drummer Will Champion taking the lead vocals. Amazingly, from where we stood, there was no need for amplification; we could actually hear them singing.

It wasn’t over yet though as the band covered Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and encouraged the ecstatic crowd to sing along.

With that, Coldplay returned to the main stage and finished up their set. To be honest, the final three songs and encore were a bit anti-climactic. We left as the band closed with Martin promising to return to Raleigh in a couple of years.

But whether or not last night’s performance could ever be topped seems pretty unlikely.

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