Last night in London, Coldplay and Lily Allen both made long-awaited live comebacks at Under 1 Roof, a children’s charity benefit concert at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. It was Coldplay’s first major show in almost a year, while Allen hasn’t toured since 2010.
Despite Coldplay’s lengthy lay-off, there were few signs of rustiness in their performance. The band had warmed up by playing a tiny show in a Somerset pub on Monday, but this gig felt more like squeezing an arena show into the relatively intimate 5,000-capacity venue.
In tow were their trademark “Xyloband” wristbands, issued to every audience member, that lit up at strategic points during the set, as they ran through a slew hits. After starting with “Clocks” and “Charlie Brown,” the band slowed things down for “Fix You,” with singer Chris Martin able to simply watch in wonder as the crowd took over the vocals. “That sounded so wonderful,” he said at the song’s close.
After that moment, they debuted “Atlas,” their contribution the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Although there were a few false-starts at the beginning, they sounded confident and carried that momentum into strident renditions of “Viva la Vida,” “Paradise” and “The Scientist.” The short set concluded with confetti bombs, a raucous rendition of “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” and Martin declaring, “We’ve got the best job in the world – and the best fans in the world.”
As they returned for an encore, Martin declared: “Fuck Coldplay songs, let’s get ready for Christmas” and they performed renditions of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” (complete with a choir and fake snow) and Coldplay’s own seasonal song, “Christmas Lights.”
“That’s an incredible feeling when you’ve been in the studio for a year,” he said of the crowd’s reaction. “You just forget you’ve got all these friends around the globe.”
Keen to make friends earlier in the evening was Lily Allen, who apologized for her lack of full backing band, explaining “I’m not in tour mode at the moment.” But she more than made up for that with a stellar cast of special guests, starting with Martin, who strummed an acoustic guitar and harmonized erratically on “The Fear,” declaring: “It’s Lily Allen, everyone – she’s Number One!”
Martin yielded to U.K. pop superstar Robbie Williams who, clad in a tuxedo, duetted and waltzed with Allen on a version of the standard “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Williams’ surprise appearance caused near hysteria in the crowd – so much so, that few seemed to notice Coldplay’s Jonny Buckland playing acoustic guitar in the background. Neither stuck around for that long, and Allen performed a solo version of her debut hit “Smile” to a backing track, before she was joined by a group of ironically twerking dancers on her new single “Hard Out Here,” a song she self-deprecatingly billed as being “about Number 65 in the charts right now.”
The event also featured ska-inflected pop-rappers Rizzle Kicks and magician Dynamo, though some of the biggest cheers of the evening were reserved for David Brent & Foregone Conclusion, the spoof band fronted by Ricky Gervais, in character as his boss-from-hell in the original U.K. version of The Office.
The concert raised money for Kids Company’s work with vulnerable children. The previous Under 1 Roof concert, which took place at London’s O2 Arena in 2011, also featured Coldplay, alongside Tinie Tempah and Emeli Sandé, and raised more than $654,000.
Here is Coldplay’s set list:
“Viva la Vida”
“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”