Coldplay At Glastonbury Review: Chris Martin and co. deliver peak Glastonbury

Fifth time around Coldplay deliver whistles and bells headline slot

Coldplay Glastonbury 2024

by Danny Eccleston |
Updated on

Pictures:  @eljaybriss/Anna Barclay

There’s no doubt at all that Coldplay are Glastonbury headliners. Four previous stints topping the bill on the Pyramid Stage attests to the fact. They’re part of the furniture here, practically Eavis family.

Since their debut at the festival – “25 years ago,”’ as Chris Martin reminds us tonight – Glastonbury has witnessed their evolution from a gauche indie guitar band with credibility hangups into a consummate arena/stadium rock band, and now a global entertainment phenomenon. Likewise, Coldplay have been the measure of Glastonbury’s changes. They have transformed broadly in parallel.

The upside of this symbiosis: Coldplay are a safe bet not to fumble anything tonight. But lack of jeopardy can be a jeopardy too. Could Chris Martin and co succumb to complacency? Not a chance.

Coldplay’s 2024 Glasto set adds an extra dimension to the phrase ‘leaving it all out there’, as every opportunity to stuff their performance with entertainment is grabbed with both hands. Dua Lipa had fireworks after her fifth song? Coldplay had fireworks after only two. And glitter. Bosh.

Fans have been handed LED wristbands that light up when certain songs are played (and instructed how to recycle them). Fireworks turn out to be a regular theme. Martin – thinner and buffer than ever before – coaches the audience through singalong segments like a gym instructor. For Something Just Like This, the band don comedy spaceman heads. It is entertainment to the max – like a Superbowl halftime show, but two hours of it.

Is the audience ecstatic and thoroughly involved? Certainly. But there’s a price. When Coldplay strip away the spectacle in their encore, and become a four-piece on the B-stage playing Sparks, an album track from their 2000 debut album, Parachutes, it’s a beautiful moment, Martin’s acoustic guitar a delicate wonder, but the audience becomes restive. Where are the fireworks? Luckily, not far away.

The irony is that, musically, the whole show is something of a tour de force. Coldplay’s recent albums – 2019’s Everyday Life and 2021’s Music Of The Spheres – have skewed pop-ward and seem to have offered increasingly less space for the band. Tonight, Jonny Buckland’s incisive guitar and the Berryman-Champion rhythm section come to the fore. While there is no vacuum tonight in the visual sphere, Coldplay’s music is at its best when leaving space: the voids in Yellow that set up its guitar epiphanies; the no-clutter melody delivery system that is Viva La Vida.

It’s hard to imagine a modern, rock-adjacent group uniting such a large audience, here on site and via the TV airwaves. Martin is an engaging character, quirkier than he first appears, with a singing voice that feels conversational even at close to maximum belt. Still, he spends too long tonight telling the audience how beautiful and wonderful we are. Do we need that? Are we children? The world is more complex and people have less pleasant aspects, which Martin well knows. Maybe it’s a kind of wish fulfilment. If he says it, it may become so. Like one of his (still) most affecting songs, beautifully rendered tonight, Martin wants to Fix You.

Coldplay’s encore unfolds with all the show’s cavalcade of musical guests reinvited onstage. Laura Mvula and the gospel choir she led, wonderfully, on Violet Hill. The horns and the strings. In an affecting moment, Martin has a camera turned on Glastonbury patriarch Michael Eavis, with a blanket over his knees, looking a bit startled. Also touchingly, but more strangely, the Parkinsons-battling actor Michael J Fox is invited on-stage in a wheelchair, clutching a Strat.

It’s an emotional, all-embracing close. And it’s authentic. This really is what Chris Martin is like. If he thinks a rock show can do this much, contain this much, then all power to him. No-one’s complaining. But how does Glastonbury top this? Should it even try?

Set List


Music of the Spheres

Higher Power

Adventure of a Lifetime


The Scientist


Hymn for the Weekend

Charlie Brown

Viva la Vida

We Pray


Violet Hill

Infinity Sign

Something Just Like This

My Universe

A Sky Full of Stars



The Jumbotron Song


Fix You


Stay on MOJO4MUSIC for complete coverage of Glastonbury 2024’s best music including Squeeze's opening greatest hits showPaul Heaton and Fatboy Slim's Housemartin's reunionDexys at the Park StageLCD SoundsystemPJ Harvey, IDLES, Fontaines D.C. and more.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us