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Darien Lake concert review


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Rewiew from Rochester Demcrat & Chronicle newspaper


Coldplay proves it deserves its fame



Jeff Spevak

Staff music critic



(September 2, 2005) — Oasis, Blur, Radiohead: Let's put 'em all on an island with some rusty pitchforks and have us a Battle of the Brit-Pop Burnouts.


But not Coldplay.


These guys are as real as U2.


Some 16,000 came out Thursday night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center to see the much-hyped melodic-rock wunderkinds. Surely no one walked away without wondering how Coldplay could have gotten so good, so fast.


Like U2's recent tours, Coldplay's stage set was all business. The guitars, keyboards and drum kit sat on a stark stage, like a tray full of surgical instruments, backed by an array of penetrating lights and a huge video screen, projecting images often every bit as obtuse as Coldplay's lyrics.


Taking the stage in front of this huge screen, Coldplay looked like shadow puppets moving jerkily before a huge digital-clock countdown.


The video screen also engaged in a bit of mass-crowd prompting, urging people to get out their cameras and, at a countdown, snap a photo of the band.


The venue twinkled with tiny blue-white flashes.


Like U2's Bono, Coldplay's Chris Martin is a mesmerizing front man, although the guy he's really the most like is the Tragically Hip's Gordon Downie.


Martin's favorite move is a one-footed bounce, but he also skips lightly about, drops to his knees, gestures toward the sky, windmills like a little kid, plays acoustic guitar for "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," and rocks furiously on the piano stool for Coldplay's grand "Politik" and "Clocks."


Grand. Like U2, that's the word for Coldplay's songs. Vast soundscapes accompanied by Martin's onstage dramatics and soaring vocals. The dynamics ebb and flow within each song, a crash and then a whisper. For "Yellow," huge yellow balloons drifted down from the pavilion rafters onto the crowd, which batted them about until they discovered that popping the things released a shower of confetti.


Like U2, Coldplay's four members — Martin plus guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman — have distinct personalities of their own. Despite the fact that they were each wearing all-black outfits.


It's all happening fast for Coldplay. The band's 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, seemed a tough masterpiece to follow, but the new X&Y does the trick.


Fast, but unlike U2's Bono, Martin hasn't had a meeting yet with the pope. He is, however, married to Gwyneth Paltrow, which must be something of a religious experience.


An acoustic set included a tribute to Johnny Cash and his "Ring of Fire."


Martin's gymnastics also included climbing one of the tall support posts in the middle of the pavilion and engaging the crowd in a call-and-response sing-along during "In My Place."


Martin's self-effacing humor also included a comment that Coldplay was voted "Ugliest rock band" by the British public. "We're not the Backstreet Boys," Martin said.


Rilo Kiley was yet more evidence as to why you should never miss an opening band that you've never heard of.


A six-piece trip-pop with a trumpeter and female lead singer in calf-high white socks, Rilo Kiley's ragtime groove was curious and exotic, like a wedding band at Roger Vadim's wedding. While few of us have entry into the world of French film producers, I'd pay money to see this outfit play in a club.


Across the board, Thursday was perhaps the finest hour or three of rock this summer.

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