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Coldplay show rocks with spectacle


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FromNews And Observer


Coldplay show rocks with spectacle

By DAVID MENCONI, Staff Writer


You can tell a lot about rock stars based on how they react to onstage spontaneity. A bright pink bra landing on top of one's guitar mid-song, for example -- which is exactly what happened to Coldplay's Chris Martin Saturday night at Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek. The garment launch came during "Til Kingdom Come," one of several songs Coldplay performed semi-unplugged at the front of the stage; and Martin, bless his heart, took it off his guitar and placed it atop his head as the crowd roared.

Saturday night's show felt like old times, with bright lights, iconic rock-star poses and big yellow balloons filled with confetti, all in front of a soldout-to-the-rafters house. There have been precious few breakthrough rock tours in recent years, and this was a big ol' rock spectacle along the lines of U2 in the mid-1980s.


While the show didn't have much flash-bang technology, there were some craftily arrayed visual effects. On-the-spot video editing showed stylized shots of the musicians on the rear screen as they played, creating the effect of watching a live-concert DVD in-person. At one point, the screen prompted the audience to "Get your camera ready... Take a photo," then showed the audience holding up cameras and cell phones en masse.


To the strains of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," the lights went down and the fog machines came up as the four band members strode onstage. Then they started into "Square One," backlit so brightly against the stage-rear video screen that they looked pixilated.


Martin began singing from the rear of the stage and then ran forward, leaping the last 10 feet to land near the front edge. The first clear shot of Martin on the screen drew piercing shrieks from the crowd (nothing like being married to a movie star to enhance a rock star's desirability quotient).


The other three guys in Coldplay all put in fine work, especially guitarist Jonny Buckland; but you hardly noticed because it was hard not to watch Martin. He skillfully worked the stage, his microphone, piano, guitar and, of course, The Grand Gesture. There were times when Martin looked like he was doing a sped-up yoga routine as he skittered across the stage. And during the encore, he ventured out from the stage to sing a verse of "In My Place" from amidst the audience.


"Speed of Sound" was quite good, as was "Clocks" (on which Martin did a sort of limbo at the piano, turning under his microphone at a painful-to-watch angle without missing a note). The latter song accelerated to a breakneck ending a la The Who's "Baba O'Riley." And in maybe the least-likely cover choice of the year, they did the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire."


Pretty much everything hit the mark, even the botches. Midway through the first verse of "The Scientist," Martin broke into a coughing fit at the piano. He gamely tried to continue, until drummer Will Champion made him start over.


"Just forget you ever heard this," Martin said as he started the song again. "I think it sounds better this time."


Coldplay is so charmed right now, even the mistakes are working out.


Staff writer David Menconi can be reached at 919/829-4759, http://blogs.newsobserver.com/beat or [email protected].

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