Viva La Coldplay! Long live Chris Martin and all his friends! For almost two hours, the British rockers ruled the world — or at least 15,500 fans — on Thursday night at Rexall Place, writes community blogs at canada.com.
Armed with military jackets, lasers, butterfly-shaped confetti, and unbridled happiness, Martin and his bandmates let their joyous tunes — including Clocks, Viva La Vida, Politik and The Scientist — soar through the sold-out arena.
Theirs was one of those rare sets to fully savour — to toss aside your cell phone, BlackBerry or notebook, close your eyes, tilt your head back and let yourself be carried away by Martin’s falsetto, Jonny Buckland’s chiming guitars and Will Champion’s booming drums. They started off with a bang, complete with sparklers and five of their biggest hits — an abridged (and instrumental) version of Life In Technicolour, Violet Hill, Clocks, In My Place and their 2000 breakthrough, Yellow.
In the hands of a lesser band, stacking the first 30 minutes of a set often leads to a lull of lesser tunes, but Coldplay was never at any risk of losing the crowd’s attention. Their songs, particularly those from their latest album, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, are big, lush and explosive — perfect for filling vast spaces. Standouts included: 42, a Lennonesque piano ballad which morphed into an electro-rock freak-out; and Viva La Vida, which featured Champion pounding on a kettle drum and bell.
The rockers also tossed in a few surprises — for those who don’t scour the Internet for setlists — such as playing techno versions of God Put A Smile On Your Face, featuring agitated guitar sproings, and Talk. (The foursome, including bassist Guy Berryman, inspired more than a few smiles by performing those tracks on the front of a stage ramp surrounded by fans.)
Their props, including the butterflies and a pack of balloons, were charming and interactive. So was Martin. He ran around like a little boy on Christmas day. He asked fans to help him with the high notes. He laughed (and cursed) when he messed up his piano part on The Hardest Part. He sang an off-the cuff ode to Edmonton — praising its noisy fans, Wayne Gretzky and actor Michael J. Fox. In interviews, Martin comes off as a charming but regular Joe who can’t quite believe his luck. He’s always talking about trying to improve as a songwriter — even more so in light of guitarist Joe Satriani’s Viva La Vida lawsuit — and thanking fans for their support.
Martin and his bandmates were just as genuine in concert. They looked like they were having the time of their lives — even though they’re at the end of a year-long tour. (They were supposed to perform here last July but were forced to cancel due to “production issues” — I’m sure most fans are now thankful for the wait.)
They gave away copies of their live CD, LeftRightLeftRight. They even rewarded fans in faraway seats — by performing several acoustic tunes, including Green Eyes, Death Will Never Conquer, and Neil Diamond’s I’m A Believer, on a small stage in one of the sections at the back of the arena. We believe, Coldplay. We believe. At one point, Martin joked about sabotaging Coldplay’s opening acts lest they upstage his band. He doesn’t have to worry. Both Snow Patrol and Howling Bells, an up ‘n’ coming act from Australia, were decisive and solid — but lacked the joie de vivre and accessibility of their headliners.
With this tour, it’s safe to say Coldplay poses a serious threat to U2’s greatest-band-in-the-world crown. Not only did the Brits get the better out of producer Brian Eno — Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends easily trumps U2’s No Line on the Horizon — Martin and his bandmates didn’t need to resort to a 360-degree screen to dazzle their fans.
Coldplay at Rexall Place, Edmonton (18th June 2009):
Pictures by by Brett Butler / 28TheGreat