Back in May 1998 an unsigned band billed as the Coldplay performed at Dingwalls, a small club in London’s Camden Lock, to a meagre audience who had paid just £4 to get in.
Flash forward 13 years, and Coldplay are back to play an exclusive gig at the club for BBC Radio 2’s In Concert. In the intervening years they’ve clocked up five albums with sales in the gazillions, masses of hit singles and a decent clutch of Brit Awards and Grammys.
Few of us there needed reminding that this was something of an event – even a little surreal. The moment seemed to get to the band as well as they fluffed the opening number Hurts like Heaven. Chris Martin admitted that seeing the whites of an audience’s eyes again after so many years of playing stadiums took some getting used to: “I’ve got more cousins than this” was how he put it.
But that shaky start behind them, they played a powerful set that showcased their new album Mylo Xyloto (including a great version of Us against the World), and stadium anthems from across their catalogue: Yellow, Viva la Vida, Fix You…the list goes on.
It’s become trendy in some circles to be a bit snitty about Coldplay, but they’ve proved they can mix it with the best of them in the biggest arenas – as their all-conquering, follow-that-Beyoncé set at this year’s Glastonbury proved. But aren’t events like this one really the way that rock music was supposed to be experienced? In a small venue, the crowd within touching distance and sweat dripping off the walls?
Coldplay proved here they can still deliver even when stripped of the lasers and trappings of the mega gig.
Radio 2 in Concert featuring Coldplay is at 8pm on Thursday 15 December on BBC Radio 2 and can be viewed on the red button for the next seven days.
Find out more about Radio 2 in Concert at the Radio 2 website