Looking back on this, I remember only one thing: pressure.
If we set aside the simple weight of being a festival headliner for the first time and look beyond that, the amount hingeing of the day was much more significant.
In addition to being the date they’d been building towards throughout the entire recording of Rush Of Blood, this performance would very likely set up how the album would be received. The intention was for the album to be out before Glastonbury. Recording ran later and later until it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen.
If this show was a disaster, most discussion about the new record would be tainted by talk of their disappointing Glastonbury set.
And make no mistake, it could very easily have been a disaster. They weren’t months into a tour, with all the swagger and slickness that brings, they were still learning how to play the new songs. The crowd had only heard In My Place – the rest of the new material was completely foreign to them at this point. That’s the folks in the crowd who were actually even familiar with the older stuff! This was a festival crowd after all and a certain proportion of them might have only known Yellow.
Many bands with spectacular starts to their career begin to stall on their second record. It’s often the beginning of the slip towards “oh yeah – whatever happened to them?”. A stinker of a show here certainly wouldn’t have helped put them on the right track.
This is all overthink, without a doubt. One thing’s for sure though: if there’s one man prone to a little recreational catastrophising, it’s Mr Martin.
So yes – pressure.
Coldplay have a habit, though, of throwing themselves into situations that by rights, should crush them – and they have a habit of rising quite spectacularly to the occasion. This show is perhaps the strongest demonstration of this.
They came out swinging with Politik. Bigger Stronger indeed! They might have been shaking, but they showed the world a new Coldplay – and the world (or at least the representatives of it standing in the tens of thousands in this farmers field in Somerset) went bananas.