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    Anaheim Review: Coldplay even better the second time around

    magicball6.jpgThe band's uplifting Honda Center show was the stuff of legend


    "Dad. Dad. Dad!"


    The kid behind me, who couldn't have been much more than 10, just wasn't getting his pop's attention Tuesday night, a half-hour or so before Coldplay took the stage at Honda Center for the first time in close to three years. His father, who would later holler out a fist-pumping "yes!" every time another smash started, was busy chatting in the aisle. So the kid kept firing, machine-gun-style: "Dad. Dad! DAAAAD!!!"


    There. That worked. "Look, look! Next to the upright piano! Remember on the American Music Awards, when they had that next to a TV?" He pointed to the old-school monitor at the right of drummer Will Champion. "Well, look!"

    Dad couldn't have cared less, just humored him. But oh the wide-eyed wonder on that kid's face and in his voice. Oh, to be a young lad getting hypnotized, maybe for the first time, by rock 'n' roll's powerful spell.


    If that seems a rather quaint anecdote to share in a follow-up review of one of the world's most popular groups as it plays what Chris Martin says will be "the last concert we do in California for some time," well, you must not have been inside the Anaheim arena when the clouds finally burst Tuesday and it started to pour. If you were, you would have noticed the preponderance of families, of so many people from 8 to 18 that the hymnlike singalong at the end of "Fix You" made it seem like Coldplay were accompanied by a children's choir on loan from "The Glory of Christmas" at the Crystal Cathedral.


    What that speaks to is a cross-generational pull like few bands have anymore, yet which Coldplay achieves almost effortlessly. And to increasingly thrilling effect: When Martin and his mates break into a heart-thumping "Clocks" or the roof-raising stomp of "Politik" (one of several set list additions/changes since this tour opened on Bastille Day at the Forum), or when the syncopated strings of "Viva la Vida" (single of the year, if you ask me) start surging forth, the electricity in the room is so palpable, it's as if you can see it ripple from one fan to the next. (The ecstatic response when the lights went out at the end of Strauss' "The Blue Danube," as prelude, only grew more thunderous as this laser-enhanced, visually arresting show wore on.)


    Apart from U2, a beyond-obvious comparison that may never go away – and also, to a lesser degree, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and Green Day – no other rock act this decade has been as successful at inspiring and making memories for every kinda people of every kinda age. Rounded out by bassist Guy Berryman and guitarist Jonny Buckland, the latter of whom now regularly dips into distinctively Allmans-esque shading, notably on "In My Place," the quartet isn't so much a band now as a force, its mutation into the futuristic anthem-spewing machine it attempted to be on 2005's "X&Y" already complete.


    Ever since finding its footing with 2000's "Parachutes" and its happy-happy-joy-joy declaration "Yellow," Coldplay has dared to be the sort of passionate, let's-change-the-world outfit that can get laughed out of existence if the message isn't backed by moving music (I'm talking about you, Angels & Airwaves). Following up the somewhat chillier "X&Y" with a warmer (and yet arguably moodier) assortment of songs, the band couldn't have put out a better album – easily one of the best of the year – for our distressed times.


    The sense of measured optimism amid the loss and regret of "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends," the way its sadness is tempered by hope, wistfully conveyed yet infectiously appealing from the get-go – really, no other new music this year has so adeptly captured the roller-coaster mood of the world as it grapples with America undergoing sea change. If it doesn't receive a barrel full of Grammy nominations next week, including a nod for album of the year, there's something horribly, horribly wrong with voters.


    Just as "American Idiot" four years ago represented the convergence of ticked-off band and fed-up fans, so does "Viva la Vida" find a rejuvenated Coldplay giving voice to the aspirations of its audience in uplifting ways Bono and Bruce Springsteen have patented. That it resonates with such a wide variety of people isn't surprising, but it's heartening, and reflective of all that we've become; amid the standard-issue Newport Beach types this night I could spot a Matisyahu-looking Jew in beach wear, an African American in a New Order T-shirt – and scores of kids of every creed sucked into the moment, rather than staying entranced by their iPhones.


    All of these admirers got through many months of growing anticipation for this return, eager to see a fresh-faced Martin leaping and posing in his "Synchronicity"-meets-the-French-Revolution garb, to chant along with hit after hit (many of them stuffed at the start of the set) and to hear one of the heartiest bands in action. That said, these guys still aren't as tight as they could be, and I kindly blame Martin. He gets so caught up in the fervency sometimes that he too easily flubs vocal entrances – especially on "Yellow" here – or sloppily crushes chord changes. It's endearing, but it's also becoming less forgivable.


    Still, so much of this show was wondrous: "Speed of Sound," played almost in darkness, the band engulfed in a deep-purple glow while acid-blotter balls overhead illuminated the arena … "Viva la Vida" cranked to a rapturous pitch, with Martin subtly tossing in the chorus of the Killers' "Human" just before the "oh-whoa-oh" portion … an acoustic version of "The Scientist," delivered among the crowd in section 207 (or thereabouts), sweetly dappled by mandolin and harmonica … the what's-it-all-about solo-piano somberness of "The Hardest Part," which Martin half-joked was about "the problem a band faces when they turn 30 years old and meet the Jonas Brothers for the first time," as Coldplay apparently did at the AMAs Sunday. ("Never before in my life have I felt more like an old man.")


    Old man, no. Old soul, perhaps – a self-deprecating one only beginning to shift from clever tunesmith to meaningful message-carrier, and enhanced by a band as strong as his vocals can be heartbreaking. Someday, I suspect, this album and this tour will be seen as the start of Coldplay's prolonged peak. Here's hoping they get to bask in the glow of it for a while, but I for one can't wait to hear what life-affirming stuff comes next.






























































    Source: ocregister.com


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