Coldplay's A Head Full of Dreams Tour: 7 Highlights, From Michael J. Fox Cameo to David Bowie Tribute

Billboard

Coldplay recently wrapped the North American leg of its world tour behind its 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams. Chris Martin and company have hinted it could be their last tour for some time, and if so, they've been throwing themselves an incredible going-away party.

The message is 100 percent Coldplay: Love, music, togetherness, posi-vibes, neon bright colors and big mushy ballads to melt your heart. No doubt, Coldplay projected its brand of shiny happiness to fans across the earth.

The London band pulled out all the stops during its 23 U.S. gigs this summer, from the opening set July 16 in New Jersey to the closer Sept. 3 in Philadelphia. With guest appearances, surprise covers and lights galore, it was a career-spanning tour fans will long remember them for -- bye for now, lads.

As Coldplay prepares for its final 2016 dates -- a handful of November and December shows in Australia and New Zealand -- here are the biggest highlights from the journey so far.

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1. Feel the Fan Love!

From tots to grannies, Coldplay has developed an intriguing core base by transforming otherwise casual music fans into Coldplay lifers. They've won over the hearts and minds of the everyman and -woman, and those fans played a key role in Coldplay's send-off shows. Upon entering the arenas, concertgoers were gifted an LED wristband and a button that reads "Love." A video kicked off each night, illustrating every country the band has visited so far on tour. Locals were shown waving flags and introducing Coldplay in their native languages. Each set also featured a "Fan Dedication Song," previously requested via Instagram video clips, which appeared on the screen overhead. In New Jersey, Martin relayed another request himself: "This is for a woman who just yesterday gave her bone marrow to save her daughter," the singer-guitarist explained. "That's the most wonderful gesture of love I've ever heard." Then, in Las Vegas, a young couple was invited onstage, where the guy delivered a beautiful tribute to his lady love and dropped to one knee to propose. Note the flashing LED bracelets as the crowd roars in approval. If you don't cry, your eyes have problems.

 

Congrats! R42

A video posted by Coldplay (@coldplay) on Sep 2, 2016 at 12:46am PDT

 

2. Pyro, Lights & Stage Production Like Whoa

Each concert was drenched in lights, lasers, balloons and confetti, and -- with the help of those flashing wristbands -- the audience became an integral part of the visual show. The set would kick off with a massive barrage of explosions of blasting confetti that filled arenas like a DayGlo snow globe. Martin ran up and down a long runway or sprinted the steps and aisles of the arenas, touching his fans in the flesh. The band switched over three stages, playing different sets (electric, acoustic, requests on the A, B and C stages). Coldplay have always done the festive colorful thing quite well, and this was its apex. Just look at this:

 

Sunday night at #ColdplayLA (-- @rachaeltension)

A photo posted by Coldplay (@coldplay) on Aug 24, 2016 at 9:51pm PDT

 

3. James Corden Joins in a Prince Tribute

At Los Angeles' Rose Bowl on Aug. 21, the band invited out the Late Late Show host to honor Prince with a cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U," strumming an acoustic rendition a la Sinead O'Connor's. First, Martin -- who'd recently appeared on Carpool Karaoke -- delivered a totally fictitious intro about Corden being Coldplay's long-lost member: "We all thought [he] was the most talented member. But instead he chose to forge his own path… We know him as the guy who turned down being in a band with us." Then out walks Corden, sporting A Head Full of Dreams T-shirt (hit that merch booth, fans). "So this is an idea that Chris said to me. He said, 'I think you should come sing this at the Rose Bowl,'" Corden explained onstage. "I'll be honest: I didn't know how big [the venue] was when I said yes." Corden nailed the yearning vocal. His birthday just happened to be the following day, and Coldplay also surprised him with a cake and sing-along of "Happy Birthday to You."


Watch Coldplay & James Corden's Prince Tribute, Plus 6 More Highlights From Kaleidoscopic Rose Bowl Show

4. Chris Martin Covers The Boss

When in Rome, right? Or, in this case, Philadelphia. During a stop in the Pennsylvania metropolis, Martin delivered a solo acoustic rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia," the Oscar-winning ballad from 1993's Tom Hanks-starring film about the AIDS crisis, Philadelphia. He used loop pedals to layer acoustic strums and riffs, and the audience hooted and hollered with each mention of its hometown.


5. Guest Spot From Michael J. Fox

Prepare to go Back to the Future. At MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Marty McFly -- ahem, Michael J. Fox -- joined Coldplay onstage at the behest of Martin's 10-year-old son, Moses. First, the young Martin appeared onscreen during the fan-request segment, asking his dad play a tune from "our favorite movie." Coldplay started with the doo-wop classic "Earth Angel," and Fox walked onstage midway through to play a brief guitar solo. It looks like he's struggling, but he's actually replicating the moment in the movie when he's disappearing into the sands of time. Then, of course, his parents seal the kiss at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, and -- boom! -- McFly is back, just as he was with Coldplay. Next, the fivesome ripped into rock'n'roll classic "Johnny B. Goode" and the space-time continuum was in harmony.


Michael J. Fox & Coldplay Re-Create 'Back to the Future' Live in Concert

6. A Tribute to the Killers

During his solo acoustic segment in Las Vegas, Martin nodded to the hometown heroes with a startlingly gorgeous version of their Hot Fuss hit "Mr. Brightside." Please, please, please record a solo cover of this, Mr. Martin. Please.

 

Nice little tribute to Vegas locals The Killers on the C-Stage. R42

A video posted by Coldplay (@coldplay) on Sep 2, 2016 at 12:27am PDT

 

7. David Bowie Tributes

After Bowie's death, news broke that he'd turned down a collaboration offer from Coldplay: "It's not a very good song, is it?" Bowie responded. "[Bowie] was very discerning," drummer Will Champion told the NME. "He wouldn't just put his name to anything. I'll give him credit for that." Still, David Bowie and the band were close, and Coldplay have been pulling a Wayne's World-style "We're Not Worthy" all across America, covering "Heroes" at almost every stop. It opens with Martin's gentle strumming, then dials up with that swinging bass groove and those hair-raising guitar lines. Before the band even kicked off their tour, Martin covered Bowie's "Life on Mars?" on The Howard Stern Show and on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Oh, Coldplay -- these guys just have warm hearts bursting at the seams.