A concert by Coldplay is scheduled to take place in Malaysia on Wednesday, despite objections from conservative Muslims. However, the band may have to deal with a “kill switch” that ends the performance if they greatly disrespect cultural norms.
After receiving criticism for a same-sex kiss between performers of the 1975 at a concert in Kuala Lumpur in July, deputy communications and digital minister Teo Nie Ching implemented a regulation that requires concert organizers to have a “kill switch” that can turn off the electricity in case of any unwanted incidents during a performance.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Technology, Fahmi Fadzilit, stated that the implementation of the switch was a topic of discussion with the event organizer for Coldplay’s concert in Kuala Lumpur. He also mentioned that he does not anticipate any issues. “The Prime Minister has expressed that the band is in strong support of Palestine. Therefore, we are optimistic about the concert today,” he added.
The prime minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, stated in parliament this week that there should be no obstruction for a group supporting the Palestinian cause to hold a concert. When asked about the timing of the concert during the Gaza conflict, he questioned the need for such restrictions.
During a recent performance in Japan, Chris Martin expressed his opposition to oppression, occupation, terrorism, and genocide. He encouraged sending love and kindness to Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, as well as countries such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2011, Coldplay used their platform to promote the charity single Freedom for Palestine on social media. In 2019, they collaborated with Palestinian band Le Trio Joubran on the song Arabesque, which was featured on their album Everyday Life.
Malaysian conservative Muslims have objected to Coldplay’s concert because the band has expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community. Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, the information chief of the Islamic party PAS, stated in parliament: “This is not simply about their support for the Palestinian cause, but also about the hedonistic culture they promote within our society.” In a social media post in May, PAS urged for the concert to be cancelled, claiming that the band promotes “a culture of hedonism and deviance”, accompanied by a photo of Martin holding a rainbow flag.
The police and Live Nation Malaysia, who are in charge of organizing the concert, have cautioned attendees to avoid behaving in a disruptive manner. Live Nation has also requested that concertgoers respect the customs and sensitivities of the local community.
Last week, conservative Muslim demonstrators clashed with police outside Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Coldplay were performing. A banner reportedly read: “Reject, cancel and disband Coldplay concerts.” Indonesian politicians also opposed the concert, with Anwar Abbas of the Indonesian Ulema Council saying: “We know that Coldplay supports LGBT+, but now the question is, is the LGBT+ behaviour in line with … our constitution? There are six religions recognised in this country, and not one of them allows and tolerates LGBT+ practice.”
Both traditional Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia expressed disapproval of the kiss that took place between Matty Healy and Ross MacDonald of the 1975 during their performance in Kuala Lumpur in July. As a result, the Good Vibes festival was abruptly ended and the band faced legal action from the festival organizers.
Healy maintains his stance, addressing a crowd at a Texas concert in October and explaining that the kiss has always been a part of their performance: “Removing any aspect of our show in an attempt to appease the narrow-minded views of the Malaysian authorities towards LGBTQ individuals would be a passive acceptance of their politics. As those who identify as liberals often say, ‘Silence contributes to violence, use your platform’, and that’s what we did… If you truly believe that artists have a responsibility to promote their liberal values by utilizing their influential platforms, then their actions should be judged by the risks and difficulties they face for doing so, not by the recognition they receive for conforming to popular opinion.”
At the moment, Coldplay is on their Music of the Spheres tour that kicked off in March 2022. The tour’s goal is to cut down carbon emissions by 50% compared to their previous global tour. Excluding their current shows in East Asia, the tour has earned $668 million and will run until 2024 with 37 concerts in Europe and Oceania. Interestingly, there is a noticeable break in their European tour schedule during the weekend of the 2024 Glastonbury festival, leaving fans optimistic for a fifth time headlining at the event.