It's hard to dislike someone who's determined to please you. So for all you Coldplay haters - and your numbers are strong - here's a bit of advice: See the band live before you judge.
No one wants you to love Coldplay more than lead singer Chris Martin. With a perpetual bounce in his step, he worked hard at TD Banknorth Garden last night, bounding like a clumsy toddler down the two side stages that led into the audience. On the swooping chorus of "In My Place," he swept his arms out to the crowd, midriff exposed, as if he had just hit a home run.
And when the house lights came on so he could get a good look at his loyal subjects, you got the genuine feeling this was where he belonged - and wanted to be. He also thanked everyone for selling out the Garden again just two months after Coldplay's last show at the venue.
And the music? Shockingly good. Martin is the backbone of Coldplay, but the quartet gets its flesh and blood from drummer Will Champion, bassist Guy Berryman, and especially lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, whose solos on "Green Eyes" and "42" added dimension and unlikely textures.
Coldplay has solved the age-old dilemma of how to make a stadium feel like a living room. Its solution: play somewhere where your audience least expects it - and far from the front row. At one point, the band bolted to a surprise spot halfway up the Garden and launched a mini acoustic set.
Martin then offered an odd preface to "The Scientist": "This is a romantic song about the governor of Alaska." Once the boos died down, his retort was decidedly more crass: "Politics aside, she's a [expletive] superbabe!"
Earlier in the evening, as a makeshift side stage materialized, the quartet huddled close for "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," which bled into a snippet of "Talk." That gave way to Martin's solo piano rendition of "The Hardest Part" (made famous by Hall & Oates, "and we made it less famous," Martin cracked).
But the heartfelt sentiment was over soon enough, as the intro to "Viva la Vida," the big hit and title track from the band's latest album, thundered out of the speakers and launched the requisite sing-along.
That dazzling showmanship made opener Duffy seem just that. Like a '50s pin-up plucked from a Phil Spector recording session, she slinked onstage in shiny red heels to the opening chords of her breakthrough hit, "Rockferry." The young Welsh singer got down and dirty on "Delayed Devotion" and "Mercy," but even they couldn't mask a voice that was often paper-thin and borderline shrill.
More discussion on this review here onwards.