Coldplay may have their critics, but it cannot be denied the Brits know how to rock a stadium in the most dazzling fashion.
Their two-hour set in front of a 40,000 plus crowd at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night was as visually explosive and entertaining as it was musically, celebrating not just their latest album Mylo Xyloto, but hits from across their previous four records too.
With the Back To The Future theme as their introductory 'walk-on' soundtrack, Chris Martin and his three merry men took the stage as huge circular screens flashed with colours like giant targets, before fireworks burst upward and they kicked off with frenetic, joyous Hurts Like Heaven.
There were cheers from the crowd as the multi-coloured arm bands they'd been given on arrival started flashing in unison with the beat, turning everyone into high-powered twinkling glow worms.
Then came the lasers, and the confetti cannons exploding with avalanches of tiny paper butterflies, hearts, and teardrops (not dissimilar to their last NZ shows at Vector Arena in 2009), adding another layer to the sensory overload during In My Place, with Martin eventually falling onto his back in bliss.
Where can a band go after that sort of wizardry and energy, usually saved for an encore? The surprises weren't over and it wasn't long before giant, mutli-coloured balloons were magically bouncing around the arena too.
The crazy carnival atmosphere provided a nice contrast for the more nostalgic mood when Martin took to the piano for The Scientist under a simple red glow, and set the scene for Yellow. There were no lights or theatrics to accompany their earliest hit single, just a simple dedication to Christchurch and the victims of Pike River, and 40,000 people with their arms in the air.
There were a few less convincing moments: the hip-hop fused beats of Princess of China sounded a little heavy on the pre-recorded elements; and they fumbled a driving, impetuous version of God Put A Smile upon Your Face, though admittedly it was much better after they started again (with Martin's apologies).
But these moments were far outweighed by the amazing energy and jubilation in Viva La Vida, Charlie Brown and Paradise. There were crowd sing-alongs aplenty as the foursome poured everything into their performances, Martin even extending Paradise pleading "I don't wanna stop, I don't wanna finish".
Of course they weren't actually finished, quickly heading to a tiny platform stage towards the back of the stadium for a first encore with mellow versions of Us Against The World, and Speed of Sound, with drummer Will Champion delighting with his turn on piano and vocal harmonies.
Then it was back to the main stage to round things off with a blockbuster trio of songs - Clocks, Fix You (which had Martin swinging his jacket around in abandon) and Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, complete with a huge fireworks display from behind the stage, and a wonderful sense of camaraderie between all four band members.
They may be unashamedly cheesy at times, but they also know how to be spectacular, they love their audience, and when Martin endearingly thanked the crowd "for giving us the best job on the planet", his genuine smile said he meant it.
Where: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
When: Saturday, November 10
* What did you think of the show? Post your comments below.By Lydia Jenkin Email Lydia