Coldplay @ Etihad Stadium, Melbourne (13/11/2012)

The Coldplay support slot was never going to be an easy one for The Temper Trap. However, as their recent AFL Grand Final appearance highlighted, the Melbournians are gradually moulding their sound to suit an arena setting – and it’s a getting better with every outing. Obvious choices ‘Trembling Hands,’ ‘Drum Song’ and ‘Sweet Disposition’ were perfect arena-fillers and were delivered without fault. However, the performance felt like it was lacking an element of unpredictability: A bit of audience participation, a jam, even a musical miss-step – just something to break up proceedings and inject something more “human” into the set.

When Coldplay landed, it illuminated the difference in calibre of the bands, literally. Having all been issued with colourful wristbands upon entry, the crowd transformed Ethiad Stadium into a capsized Christmas Tree as waving bangles flickered neon and the “kings of arena” appeared. Chris Martin commanded every inch of the venue as he galloped around each prong of the forked stage, blasting into Mylo Xyloto’s ‘Hurts Like Heaven’ as fireworks lit-up the sky in unison.

The whole show was a startling illustration of just how far Coldplay has come in the last 12 years. From the timid indie kids of yesteryear they have morphed into a choreographed, well-oiled machine that excels in this kind of environment.

With the smell of sulphur still lingering, the band navigated their way through explosions of confetti to a rendition of ‘In My Place’ which silenced any skeptics about Etihad Stadium’s sound. Will Champion’s behemoth drums boomed around the stadium, and this, along with ‘Yellow’ and ‘The Scientist’ were delivered with a confidence and aggression unapparent on original recordings.

‘Warning Sign’ was the wild card and potential highlight of the night as the oft-forgotten stunner kept the die-hard fans happy. But it was songs such as ‘Viva La Vida’ and ‘Paradise’ which garnered the biggest screams of the night.

With such a catalogue of hits, it was easy to forget that this was a Mylo Xyloto tour first and foremost, however this became more apparent as the show progressed. Most of the lighting, special effects and giant bouncy balls were reserved for the new releases.

The encore saw the four Brits teleport to a tiny stage at the back of the stadium, huddling together to deliver a drum-less ‘Us Against The Worl’d and ‘Speed of Sound’, which gave a sense of faux-intimacy, before they raced back to the stage to cap off the night with ‘Clocks’, ‘Fix You’ and ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’.

The sheer ridiculousness of the lighting spectacle was so enthralling that at times it was easy to take Coldplay’s near-faultless performance for granted. It’s amazing that something as simple as a flashing wristband could transform what was a great performance into an experience for everybody to be a part of. It also made the most of the arena setting – no matter when you were located every spot had its advantage: Whether you were in the stalls dancing under a shower of confetti, or in the furthest corner of the arena, gazing across a beautiful sea of neon lights.

Most of us say it’s better to see a band in a small, intimate venue, but when a band does an arena show as well as that, it’s enough to make you reconsider.