NYE 2012: Who Needs Times Square When There’s Chris Martin?

Entrance to the Barclays Center. 31 Dec 2012.

Entrance to the Barclays Center. 31 Dec 2012.

Although it hasn’t been much so in the past, nowadays, I try and keep this blog to running matters, as personal life continues to improve although this New Year’s illustrates yet another way how running has changed my life for the better.

I’ve met and spent time with a lot of new friends, who are all mostly runners and when one of them changed jobs and moved to Manhattan as a result, she invited me to see Coldplay with her at the Barclays Center. She had wanted to see it in July when they were in Philadelphia and we were both still living there but go figure, I was out of town due to business.

(NB: For those of you not familiar with Coldplay, they are a well-known British alternative rock band. Website here.)

Coldplay performing "In My Place" as the opener. 31 Dec 2012.

Coldplay performing “In My Place” as the opener. 31 Dec 2012.

This time, we couldn’t miss it. New Year’s Eve (no work obligations) and they were doing a joint show with Jay-Z at the Barclays Center.

Caroline purchased the tickets and I took the coach to Penn Station. We were stoked. I’d seen Linkin Park on their Projekt Revolution Tour years ago and I was determined to see my other all time favourite band and now I was able to do so. Jay-Z performing was also icing on the cake, though I’m not into rap as much, I do enjoy a number of his songs.

Performing "The Scientist" 31 Dec 2012.

Performing “The Scientist” 31 Dec 2012.

I have been told by many people that Chris Martin as lead singer is extremely energetic although my best friend from college warned me that he was disappointing in Dallas (when he lived there at the time) as he didn’t engage the crowd enough. He told me to not let that affect me going into the show.

Getting into the Barclays Center was a mess in of itself. Doors opened at 9pm, with the concert starting at 10pm. Since we both ran 5.2 miles earlier that day in Central Park (more on that later) we skipped the alcohol once we were in, although Caro wanted a coffee as she wanted to stay up all night.

Once we were in, we received special bracelets that would be part of the show. And surely we made our way to our seats.

I had never been to the Barclays Center; my brother and a few others had travelled here for Nets games and this was a common venue for other concerts, but nope, this was my first time.

Performing Viva La Vida. 31 Dec 2012.

Performing Viva La Vida. 31 Dec 2012.

The show started promptly at 10pm with Coldplay opening to
“In My Place”. Most of the stage had the Xylo Myloto graphics as a backdrop with a stage extension that was X-shaped, allowing lead singer Chris Martin to engage with the fans seated further back. Other songs that Coldplay sung were The Scientist, Lost, Clocks, Viva La Vida and several from his latest album Xylo Myloto.

Chris Martin engages the crowd. 31 Dec 2012.

Chris Martin engages the crowd. 31 Dec 2012.

For one song, Chris Martin took a five minute break to switch positions in the arena; it was then that my friend had told me that this was one of the major things she really appreciated about him. My best friend from university however had warned me he had not done this in Dallas, but tonight’s show at this point showed that he was literally bouncing all over the place. Martin displayed a LOT of passion with his body movement, his constant engagement with the fans.

Bouncing all over stage. 31 Dec 2012.

Bouncing all over stage. 31 Dec 2012.

The acoustics in the arena were excellent, but the lighting and backdrop were also perfect. The use of balloons, paper, the bracelets as part of the lighting in the show all contributed to the ambiance of the evening and I’m glad I technically have a portion of the set now with me. (The bracelets were given to us to keep.)

Martin on the floor. 31 Dec 2012.

Martin on the floor. 31 Dec 2012.

The only time where he did NOT engage the crowd was when he was either on the piano, rapping with Jay-Z (who had the second half of the show on his own) or dancing with his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and their children.

Chris Martin switching arena positions. 31 Dec 2012.

Chris Martin switching arena positions. 31 Dec 2012.

Once Coldplay ended their half of the show, a guest DJ, DJ Cassidy entertained the arena during what turned out to be a 45 minute intermission. It literally turned into an arena dance party as Coldplay’s half ended at 11:15pm and the stage crew was changing the set for Jay-Z’s half (which ultimately concluded at 1:30am).

Singing Lost. 31 Dec 2012.

Singing Lost. 31 Dec 2012.

Once the time reached 11:50pm, a timer started on the animation screens and steadily worked towards midnight.

Ten minute countdown. 31 Dec 2012.

Ten minute countdown. 31 Dec 2012.

And then, the final minute. I was so ready to wave this disaster of a year good-bye. Good bye and good riddance.

TEN! NINE! EIGHT! ….

Final minute. 31 Dec 2012.

Final minute. 31 Dec 2012.

SEVEN! SIX! FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE!

Final ten seconds. 31 Dec 2012.

Final ten seconds. 31 Dec 2012.

2013!!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Coldplay and Jay-Z breaking out Aud Lang Syne. 1 Jan 2013.

Coldplay and Jay-Z breaking out Aud Lang Syne. 1 Jan 2013.

At the stroke of midnight, Coldplay, led by Chris Martin, broke out into Aud Lang Syne as Jay-Z and Chris Martin’s family entered the stage. Balloons and confetti were released from the ceiling of the arena and the stage lit up.

It felt weird to be indoors and NOT watching the ball drop for once, but it felt so great to be doing the countdown watching Coldplay. Definitely a different experience.

Finally it was time for Jay-Z to work his end of the show. One thing that was almost apparent immediately was he was under the weather. Although he rapped his songs with energy from his voice, his body movements were NOWHERE near Chris Martin’s. Of course, Jay-Z is a larger man, and performed his first couple of acts in either a down or inflated jacket before taking it off to reveal a dapper business suit (compared to Chris Martin, who had performed in a muscle t-shirt and jeans). But both my friend and I agreed that he should have at least engaged the audience more.

Jay-Z and Bridget Kelly. 1 Jan 2013.

Jay-Z and Bridget Kelly. 1 Jan 2013.

I got into his songs when he got the crowd chanting and started inspiring us about what we needed to do in 2013. One of my most favourite acts of his was when he engaged us vocally performing 99 Problems.

“I want everyone to think about the times when people told you you couldn’t do something or tried to tear you down over the past year. Now I want you all to get your hands out and get those middle fingers up!”

First few numbers. 1 Jan 2013.

First few numbers. 1 Jan 2013.

I found this amusing…yes this was Jay-Z and his lyrics are full of expletives but there is something feeling badass about flipping the bird in a public place even if there are 30,000 or so of us doing it in unison.

And then with that, 99 Problems started. I did not have any major adversaries this year, although 2011 had me see off a few, the most recent being my overly religious (and self-righteous) ex, which led me to substitute the B-word in the lyrics with his name.

“If you having girl problems, I feel bad for you son.
I got 99 Problems but
Joe ain’t one!”

Now THAT felt good.

With each passing song however, we noticed that despite his efforts, Jay-Z kept drinking more water. However his backup singer Bridget Kelly made her appearance for Empire State of Mind and one other song earlier in the show.

Chris Martin and Jay-Z have worked together before and as a tandem, they performed well. I felt Jay-Z could have been a little more physically animated. My friend Caro did not know his songs quite as well so she found it hard to connect with him.

What really proved to be a cliffhanger though was how the show ended. Jay-Z and his band had taken their last song and with him wishing the city and the crowd the best for 2013, we figured that both bands would have taken their bows or done some collaborative farewell song. But no, it ended very abruptly, almost to the point the audience were confused if there just might have been either a joint encore (as some people started leaving early) or if Coldplay would at least return. But after a 2.5 hour show, it appeared both bands were more than ready for their afterparty, well earned to be honest.

But still some bows or closure would have been nice.

Overall, I would rate Coldplay’s performance a 9.5 out of 10 – would have liked to see more songs from X&Y personally. Jointly, they had the right balance of movement and cohesion with each other, definitely a 10. Bridget Kelly sang her parts with a lot of passion and conviction, also a 10/10 for her as a solo. But Jay-Z on his own gets a 7, again, I really wanted to see more body movement although the power was in his voice. But we could have used more conviction.

Ambience: Also a 7. Jay-Z’s half just seemed a LOT more dreary, a lot less light than Coldplay’s. Definitely gets points for the use of the props, confetti, balloons and light bracelets; most audience members around me found the idea nifty.

The conclusion was sorely disappointing though and could have used again, at the least, joint (band) appearance as closure.

DJ Cassidy’s role during intermission gets a 9. I honestly thought it was just background music until he introduced himself midway. I would have been more likely to dance (my friend did) if I knew it was a DJ trying to entertain us. I’m not used to a 45 minute intermission on joint shows, although for New Year’s Eve it had to be done this way.

With the exception of the close, the show was very good. I have no regrets seeing Coldplay and Jay-Z and am blessed to have my friend Caro to see it with! A different experience, all worthwhile in every sense of the word.

Wishing all of you the best for a Happy New Year and a joyous 2013!

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