Midway through a roaring take on the song "Viva la Vida" on Sunday, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin looked up at the packed amphitheater in Irvine and urged the crowd to give just a little bit more, writes US Official Tabloid Gossip blog.
"For the last time in California for a few years, so let's turn it up!" Martin shouted as he invited, or actually demanded, that we all sing along with just as much passion and power as the band itself delivered all night at Verizon Wireless. And of course, the full house did just as he'd asked, belting out the "oh, oh, oh's" of the chorus as Martin sang and skipped across the stage, guitarist Jonny Buckland and bass player Guy Berryman crisply played their parts, and drummer Will Champion hammered at a large metal bell so violently that he shattered his mallet.
The song, as did the entire night, offered the sound and sight of a band at its peak, road-tested after 134 concerts on a tour that started over a year ago, but still as fresh and enthusiastic as a band just heading out.
Yet "Viva la Vida," the tour name and title track off Coldplay's most recent album, was just one high point among many in a concert that delivered 22 songs in just under two hours. Coldplay arrived on stage as the last notes of the final piece of warm-up music ended. (Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube," if you're curious, to which everyone in the amphitheater waved their arms from side to side as the waltz played on).
Twirling fireworks sparklers behind a backlit screen, Martin, Buckland, Berryman and Champion cast dancing silhouettes as they opened the show with the chiming chords of "Life in Technicolor," the mostly instrumental track that opens the most recent album.
Fans were up and on their feet from the start of the show, most of them never sitting back done as the band played through a set filled with new songs – "Violet Hill," a slower number followed the opener – and older hits: the opening piano riff of "Clocks," which came next, drew a huge roar from the stands. "This is the song that first brought us to Orange County, and it's going to keep bringing us back," Martin said a song or two later, introducing "Yellow," the first Coldplay single to hit in the United States. The band first performed the song at Verizon while playing in a humble opening slot at KROQ Weenie Roast in 2001.
As the band played, dozens of huge yellow balloons were released throughout the venue, making for a lovely visual accompaniment even if it did serve to distract a little from the song as you gawked at the sight or checked that you weren't about to get bonked on the head.
New songs that on "Viva la Vida" can seem a little subdued in concert arrived with a much greater blast of power and emotion, with "Cemeteries of London" a rallying cry song, segueing neatly into "42," a song with greatly enhanced dynamics as a live number.
In it, Martin started softly solo at the piano, then joined the rest of the band with a guitar during the hard-hitting midsection before dashing back to the piano to resume the more somber finish. With Martin's frequent encouragement, fans joined in to sing along on choruses. During "Fix You," another older song that drew huge cheers and much singing, a random shot of the crowd singing at the front of the stage offered a glimpse of Mrs. Martin – actress Gwyneth Paltrow – watching from the pit.
And despite the hugeness of the venue, the band on several occasions visited fans in the upper reaches, first playing a miniset from a platform between the orchestra and loge sections ("God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," "The Hardest Part") and later from even further up between the loge and the terrace. "Geez, that was a long way!" Martin joked – huffed? – after he and the band ran up to that second spot, a location from which they performed an acoustic set of "Green Eyes," "Death Will Never Conquer" and a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" complete with a very nice falsetto bit.
Back on the main stage, after a rousing, heavy take on "Politik," one of the loveliest moments of the night arrived. As the band played "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love," confetti cannons blasted tens of thousands of tissue paper butterflies over the arena, a first wave in primary colors, a second in neon DayGlo hues, both leaving spectators smiling in delight.
Martin, the charismatic frontman, seemed in a happy, talkative mood, making fun of himself when he missed an occasional chord or key, and joking with the crowd at one point that they'd almost rescheduled the show because of its conflict with a new episode of HBO's "Entourage."
The rest of the band said hardly a word – though Champion sang lead on "Death Will Not Conquer" – but they played brilliantly, with Champion's drumming a much more powerful presence than on record and Buckland adding all manner of subtle guitar colors to the palette. For the encore, the band played "The Scientist" before bringing the night full circle with "Life in Technicolor II," sending the crowd home humming that final melody.
The show also featured two opening acts, starting with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, a British retro-rockabilly group that offered short fun set, and then Amadou & Mariam, a blind couple from Mali whose band played a terrific set of what might best be described as Afro-funk. Their band included two drummers and two backup singers who danced nonstop. While Mariam sang, Amadou played guitar, every few songs shouting out, "Do you feel alive?!?" The answer by the end of this whole night of music was an absolute yes.
Coldplay at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, CA (19th July 2009)
Pictures by OC Register
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