What was that Bible passage, again? Something about the meek inheriting the Earth? Having seen Coldplay's sold-out show at Saddledome, I fully concede, at least for the moment, that they have, writes the Calgary Herald.
Yes, chalk a big one up for the Coldplay-lovers of the world --legion that they are--based on the aural and visual extravaganza that is the Viva La Vida Tour, taken in by some 15,000 Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
All around it was the perfect display of arena rock pomp meets alternative rock preciousness. As for the Coldplay cynics out there (A group which, by the way, I have to count myself a part of)? Well, for hardened meanies like us, that was the taste of humble pie when the London band--which has become one of the biggest on the planet, hands down--performed so powerfully in Calgary.
Kicking off the set with the uplifting Violet Hill off their fourth disc (the Grammy Award winning Viva La Vida or Death and All Of His Friends), Coldplay was, despite the moniker, incredibly hot from the get-go. Squeaky-clean, yoga-practitioner Chris Martin, 32, the band's vocalist, demonstrated all the emotion and range Coldplay's sensitive, hyper-romantic power balladry demands, while his bandmates -- Jonny Buckland on guitar, Guy Berryman on bass and Will Champion on drums --played with impressive energy and torque.
The tunes, crowd faves like In My Place, Clocks, the epic Viva La Vida and Politik, with its riveting drive, were accentuated wonderfully by the dazzling stage show. A giant, bright blue orb, which appeared at turns to be either Earth or a massive Christmas ornament, hung from the 'Dome's ceiling, often flashing images of the band in the midst of their performance. All of this was further illuminated by a spectacular laser light show.
Adding to the grandiose vibe, the band, at one point, played in front of a massive mural of the Viva La Vida album cover, a classic painting depicting a scene from the French Revolution with a plump, bare-breasted woman clutching her flag in one hand and a bayonette in the other. During the song Yellow, bright yellow beach balls bounced through the crowd and the entire concert bowl lit up in a wash of, you guessed it, fluorescent yellow, while Martin serenaded the adoring fans.
Around the gig's halfway mark, the entire band walked through the crowd to a smaller stage perched among the rows in the back of the 'Dome. There they played the pretty Green Eyes and a laid-back, funny version of Neil Diamond's I'm A Believer. During this short acoustic set Martin even managed to name drop the Calgary Flames, to ecstatic cheers.
Wowed as I am, I stick by most of my Coldplay gripes over the years. If you love your rock with a bit of grit and spit in the mix --and many would argue that's a key ingredient of the genre --there's a good chance you have struggled with Coldplay. It truly is sensitivity incarnate, all heart-on-sleeve romance served up in big teary pools, and, at its worst, it drowns in its own soppy sentiments.
But as the Coldplay concert experience hits home perfectly, when the band is at its best it is able to channel all that emotion into a grand, epic sound. At those moments, they're masters of the heartfelt anthem and, undeniably, an excellent band.
Opening for Coldplay was Australia's Howling Bells and Snow Patrol, an earnest group of Scottish and Irish lads who have been sensations in their own right among alternative rock fans. Given their own bleedingly romantic brand of power pop, they really were an ideal warmup for Coldplay and, live, their songs took on an anthemic urgency this reviewer hasn't always felt on disc. Standouts of Snow Patrol's invigorating set included Shut Your Eyes, Crack The Shutters and, of course, the band's biggest hit, the memorably moving Chasing Cars.
Coldplay at Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Canada (17th June 2009):
Pictures: Calgary Herald