With many people zeroing in on the end that could have come to fruition and with their recent success in landing a spot opening for Coldplay’s North American tour, you can imagine the sort of pressure The Pierces must be feeling. Tuesday night’s show, center stage at the Rose Garden Arena, however, proved that they are ready to fight and show people across the nation the spark that they’ve got.
After over ten years of making music together, Allison and Catherine have had ample time to learn what works for them and what doesn’t. While translating that to an astronomically larger stage than normal can be an awkward learning process for some acts, the sisters looked comfortable there in the spotlight, playing a selection of songs spanning their releases, but focusing mostly on tracks from You and I, released about a year ago.
The sweet harmonies and up-tempo riffs somehow managed to make such a large space feel close and intimate—and fans still filtering into the arena seemed to take notice, many standing in their seats and applauding throughout the set enthusiastically. A fitting high point was during “You’ll Be Mine,” both sisters and their backing band looking confident and engaging the crowd with their energy. The subtle twang, and powerful pop tones of the Pierces music is just genre-liquid enough to invite scores of people to indulge in, and although it’s no surprise that the majority of people in the audience were anxiously waiting for Coldplay’s turn on the stage, the response to the Pierces was impressive, to say the least.
Prior to the show, Catherine had already noted that Portland was a stand-out for the tour, as they had close family and friends in attendance. Their cousin, Amelia Pape, is a Portland resident, in fact, who help runs a mobile grocery cart called My Street Grocery which services “food deserts”—or lower income areas in the city that don’t have ample access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
You could be quick to sideline the positive response from the hundreds of people filing in as a generally enthusiastic crowd, but the second opener’s set proved quite the contrary: Metronomy’s quirky brit-pop and synchronized stage antics had the makings of being something interesting, but fell flat from a slow, drawling choice in opening number and onward.
The main event, however, was just the opposite of both acts. From a powerful opening number that swelled in the room, to a ho-hum middle of the night, Coldplay turned the arena into something different entirely. With an expansive backdrop featuring neon lights, risers, and an impressive graffiti’d façade spanning the entire length of the stage, the members burst into their opening song to loud cheers and applause. It takes a lot to make arena shows feel like they are something spectacular, but show antics such as synchronized light up bracelets handed out to patrons at the beginning of the show, giant balloons bounced around the audience, and intermittent showers of confetti amped the night up to something not to be forgotten.
In contrast to the muted color story of Coldplay’s critically acclaimed 2008 release, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, everything about Mylo Xyloto and the accompanying artwork is more vibrant and cheerful—even the band appears to be taking this in, putting on a truly animated show. Chris Martin, vocalist and pianist, bounded up and down the stage, oftentimes visiting the long catwalk that extended into the crowd.
The night only became more and more dynamic, featuring many brilliant light set-ups, a short stripped down portion of the set where the band all relocated to the center stage to play, as well as a trippy backdrop video of Rihanna during the song “Princess Of China” (which she is featured on in the album).
With such a long career backing them and many songs that people surely expected to hear, the band swung back and forth in perfect balance between new favorites and old hits such as “Yellow” (accompanied by a sunny display of warm-toned lights), “Fix You” and “Lost,” and then dramatically reappearing on a ledge mid-crowd at the end of the night and playing a wonderful closer to an absolutely raucous crowd.
Words by Jenna Fletcher.
Shameless Instagram photos by Kimberly Lawson.