He performed a few Coldplay hits – and kicked off the evening with a seasonally appropriate rendition of “White Christmas” – but most of the show was devoted to classic rock covers, including Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” and the Beatles’ “Yesterday.”
During “Yesterday” and several other selections, Martin handed vocal duties to an impressive pair of singers from the Bowery Mission. The Coldplay leader sketched the plaintive melody of “Yesterday” on an acoustic guitar while his companion soared through an emotive, melismatic reading of the Paul McCartney-penned standard. Initially the crowd sang along, but they soon stopped to focus on the striking singing of Martin’s collaborator.
Martin did make one deviation from the mix of Coldplay and classic rock. He played a humorous, peppy version of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” Martin transformed the brooding smash from 2015 into a cheery thing that might appear in a musical on Broadway.
In November, Martin announced that Coldplay will release new music in 2017.