Ever since rumours of the Coldplay concert in Mumbai had been doing the rounds, Indian fans were already saving up to purchase the tickets.
Then Hugh Evans and Global Citizen moment finally did it — they brought the band to Mumbai as part of the Global Citizen Festival. Chris Martin, the creative director of the Global Citizen festival was, of course, one of the main attractions on Saturday.
The Coldplay concert had tickets starting from Rs 5,000 and going up to Rs 35,000. Sixty thousand people won their tickets through volunteering for Global Citizen sustainable goals drive. The concert saw a whopping 80,000 people in attendance.
Cloudy, with a chance of Coldplay
From fans who had designed their own shirts to people flying in from Hyderabad and Delhi specially for the concert, Coldplay was obviously the main attraction for everyone.
On the day of the concert, fans lined up since 9 am to get in — the concert gates opened at 10.30 am and closed at 1.30 pm.
The amount of time you spent in the queue waiting to get into the concert was inversely proportional to the amount you paid. For silver and gold pass holders who paid Rs 10,000 and Rs 35,000 respectively to see their favourite band, entry was easy: they were ushered in at 11 am. For the rest — yellow pass holders, who had won the tickets through volunteering — there was a long line to get in.
The facilities were set up to perfection. There are were portable bathrooms and a first-aid counter set up, with security keeping a watchful eye on the crowd.
The first faux pas on the part of the organisers was that there was no drinking water available at the venue. The organisers kept queues of people waiting from 11 am to 1.45 pm after which they distributed free water to redeem themselves.
The shadow of demonetisation was obvious as the organisers put up this sign:
Among the Indian celebrities, Shah Rukh Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt, Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor, Monali Thakur, Katrina Kaif and many more graced the stage to talk about the Global Citizen moment. Their speeches, however, were only met with a lukewarm response and sarcastic grunts and gruffs as the crowd became more and more impatient for Coldplay.
The crowd didn't seem to be too excited about Demi Lovato, but then she didn't seem equally enthusiastic about the concert herself, and the few songs that she sang were not very well received by the audience. In comparison, Karsh Kale and the Midival Punditz were more warmly received.
On the other hand, the crowd literally rose to greet Amitabh Bachchan, who came in to read ‘Tu Khud ki Khoj Mein Nikal’ from his film Pink. He was also cheered onstage when he joined Farhan Akhtar to sing 'Yaari' from Wazir. Farhan also held the crowd's’ interest as he performed songs from Rock On.
AR Rahman performed a short but rich set of songs. He sang 'Andha Arabic Kadaloram' from the film Bombay to roaring applause as the crowd sang along to the choral refrain ‘Humma Humma.’ He also sang Dil Se and Tu Hi Re. The crowd cheered further when Amitabh joined him on stage.
The Vamps, the British boyband who had previously collaborated with Vishal Shekar for the song 'Beliya' for Shivaay, sang a full set for the show. "I have never performed in front of 80,000 people," 21-year-old frontman Brad Simpson remarked.
Jay-Z's first time in India saw him perform for 45 minutes, with hits like '99 Problems', 'Empire State of Mind' and 'Nigas in Paris'. The crowd sure seemed to be having a good time.
The organisers had reserved the best for the last. Ranveer Singh performed for 15 minutes and got the loudest cheers till then.
One of the most interesting aspects of the concert was the political undertones of the festival.
In a rare occurrence, Poonam Mahajan (BJP), Aditya Thackeray (Shiv Sena) and Milind Deora (Indian National Congress) took to the stage to discuss UN's sustainable development goals for India.
Sachin Tendulkar and Ratan Tata made a rare appearance, with Tata even pledging Rs 300 crore towards the sustainable development goals to end open defecation.
Other than Chris Martin, the other most warmly received rockstar was Narendra Modi, who received one of the loudest cheers, as he joined the concert through a live video link.
Modi, who was present at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival in New York with Chris Martin, chose to stay back to attend the Winter Parliament session in Delhi. The highlight of his speech was his joke on demonetisation:
Hello, my young friends. Namaste. I see you are having a good time. I know that I stand between you and Coldplay and so will make this brief. This is a welcome break from my usual routine of old files and cold Delhi. I congratulate Hugh Evans, Shiv Khemka, Gauri Easwaran, Poonam Mahajan and the many others who have worked hard to put this together. To make public policy cool, is no mean task!"
"Thank you guys for having me over. You have been smart in asking me to only address the gathering, and not sing. Else, I am pretty sure your audience would be asking you for their money back. And that too in 100 rupee notes." (Some jeered, some laughed, but the audience reacted loudly to this)
"Ye hamari khushkismati hai ke hum itne khoobsurat desh mein aaye hain," Chris Martin said to the crowd.
Coldplay's set was the most awaited one, and the band made it up to the crowd who were waiting for hours. They performed for a full 120 minutes, instead of 90, where they sang their hits like 'Paradise', 'Yellow' , 'Fix You' and ending the concert with a mashup featuring AR Rahman singing 'Vande Mataram', and his own version of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil's 'Channa Mereya'.
And as Chris Martin promised, this will not be the band's last time in the country.