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    Another St Paul Review: Coldplay knows how to work a crowd

    magicball8.jpgHad British foursome Coldplay performed at the Xcel Energy Center in July as originally scheduled, we would have witnessed the band at the beginning stages of a world tour, fueled by nervous energy and excitement, reports Twin Cities.


    Instead, the band postponed that July show to allow more time for pre-tour production and stopped by the X on Friday night for a confident and competent performance for a crowd of 16,153. Ever-affable lead singer Chris Martin apologized for skipping out this summer. "We would have been absolutely s—," he said with a laugh.


    Of course, he's full of it. One of the many charges leveled at Coldplay is that they were careerists from the start, shamelessly stealing all the best bits from U2's playbook. And even an under-rehearsed Coldplay concert would trump most of the competition.

    Friday's show unfolded with near-military precision, so much so that the live video feed on the big screens looked like an expertly edited concert DVD. Yet, what the concert lacked in spontaneity it more than made up for in grand gestures, epic songs and stunning staging that approached, but did not surpass, the group's triumphant 2005 stop at the Target Center.


    Take, for example, "In My Place," the band's 2002 single. The pleasantly stirring recorded version sounds great on light-rock radio, but in concert, Martin and company transformed it into an audience-participating, world-conquering monster. It's a trick Coldplay pulled over and over again, elevating "Fix


    You," "Clocks" and "Lovers in Japan" into chilling and thrilling anthems. (The latter even arrived with fancy glow-in-the-dark confetti.)

    The band focused on its most recent, fourth album, "Viva La Vida," a disc created with the help of frequent U2 collaborator Brian Eno. And, for the most part, the fresh material sounded terrific live, from the uplifting title track to the mini-suite "42" to the dreamy "Chinese Sleep Chant."


    When it came to the older stuff, the band wasn't afraid to mess around with the arrangements, which didn't always work, like a dance-beat driven "God Put a Smile on Your Face" that buried the track's original charms. But an acoustic take on "The Scientist" provided a clear highlight of the evening, even if the band hadn't pulled the nifty trick of playing it in the middle of a bank of seats at the back of the arena.


    Still, for all the polish and bluster, at times one could sense the band has shifted into autopilot, an almost inevitable effect of five months of hard touring. Perhaps next time the band hits the road, the Twin Cities will catch them while they're still learning their lines.


    Discuss this review here onwards.

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