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Reviews: LeftRightLeftRightLeft live album (2009)


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Coldplay’s free download live album starts with the sound of the band bragging about their drug-fuelled orgies moments before they stagger onstage, the dwarve drug runners, the nymphos and the goat they sacrified to Satan, which from the sound of it they’re still covered in. It finished with them doing a thirty-second thrash metal version of ‘Yellow’ and the band collapsing into the drum-kit, as it ends in a shower of white noise and terrifying feedback not heard since Suicide’s ‘23 Minutes Over Brussels.’


Of course it doesn’t, stupid. What were you expecting?


It’s probably fair to say that Coldplay are perhaps the band that really truly did become the next U2. From basic beginnings (and like U2, not sociologically humble ones), they toured like crazy, both in the UK, and more importantly, the US. Wheras it took U2 most of the eighties and five albums to get to the status of U2 that they’ve occupied, well, pretty much ever since, it took Coldplay three albums tops. Like U2, they got Brian Eno in to produce their fourth album. Like U2, it’s pretty much a given that each new release will go straight to no.1 in the UK, the US and well, anywhere really. They’re mega successful. No wonder some people hate them.


And sometimes I find people expect me to be one of them. That being a successful band means that you must therefore be despised by bloggers isn’t something that I think is fair. Obviously if you’re successful and rubbish, that’s not great, but it’s been like that long since before the arrival of the music business as we know it. The fact is, I bought Coldplay’s ‘Blue Room EP’ on 12″ single at the tail end of 1999, saw the band accelerate, and accelerate and not really stop since then. I’ve seen them live several times - the first two occasions at summer festivals in the summer of 2000 when they were on the bill in the middle of the afternoon. Subsequently they’ve been headlining enormo-gigs, not just in the UK but the US too, reaching the populace in a way that it might have been predicted that Blur, Oasis and Radiohead might do, but Coldplay actually did. Four massive selling-albums, a marriage to an A-list actress for the singer…but still some great tunes.


So Coldplay aren’t sonic innovators, and U2 and Radiohead have attempted to drag leftfield ideas into the mainstream, and I still wonder what another album with Brian Eno at the help will produce. But there is some difference between Parachutes and Viva La Vida, and it’s not just the matter of eight years. The sound has got bigger, and from X&Y there were always little subtleties.


As a live album, it’s fun and not a rehash of greatest hits (only three of the tracks on here were singles), and predictably heaviest on the last two albums. ‘Fix You’ and ‘Viva La Vida’ are massed singalongs, though ‘Clocks’ seems a little hesitant. The sound is good, and it seems like a genuinely live recording, though to what extent it’s been touched up it’s not necessarily possible for me to identify.


It’s not a classic live album, like Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous, but there are many worse ones out there I could name (The Cure’s Show, David Bowie’s David Live, probably one or two of The Fall’s many…), it’s probably comparable with…U2’s Under A Blood Red Sky. Which is where we came in, more or less. And it’s a free giveaway, so they can hardly be accused of being ‘rockist’ which they undoubtedly would if it were 1979 and not 2009…





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