They may be one of the most successful bands in the world, but Coldplay still really, really want us to love them. Playing their first and biggest British date of 2009 to more than 50,000 people, the singer Chris Martin and his fellow Fair Trade rockers deployed every weapon in their arsenal, from fireworks to flattery, and from Simon Cowell to Jay-Z, writes The Times Online.
Four emphatically English public schoolboys touring with a Brooklyn-born gangsta-rap mogul may seem incongruous, but there are parallels. Martin and Jay-Z are friends and collaborators, but also both canny populists who recognise the crossover marketing potential of a shared fan base. The rap superstar was in likeably laconic mood on Saturday, playing the hip-hop Sinatra over live horns and jazzy guitars. In leather jacket and shades, he paid wonderfully deadpan homage to Coldplay: “Quite small guys ... the singer’s OK.” Ever the diplomat, he politely neglected to say that there appeared to be more black people on stage than in the audience.
More than a decade into their career, with their fourth album Viva la Vida nudging eight million sales, Coldplay have finally figured out how to work within their limitations. They know that their clean-living, nice-guy image and carbon-neutral stadium-pop scores low on the Richter scale of raunchy rock-star excitement. But their current presentation of it is a dazzling, dynamic, imaginative spectacle, which smartly leaves little room to dwell on the substance of their songs.
Right from the opening number Chris Martin was in perpetual motion, throwing his yoga-stretched, tofu-fuelled body around the enormous stage in a jerky-limbed dance clearly designed to project across huge spaces. During Yellow the band launched dozens of giant yellow balloons into the crowd. Later there were fireworks, a man-made blizzard of multicoloured confetti butterflies and even a comedy skit in which Martin verbally sparred with pre-recorded video clips of Simon Cowell.
Besides confetti, Martin also showered the local audience with shameless flattery, invoking Noel Gallagher’s name and joking that Coldplay had played “154 rehearsals around the world because we wanted to be good in Manchester”. Conducting a mass singalong during a swooningly lovely Fix You, he gushed: “No wonder all the best bands come from Manchester.” The line between charm and smarm felt toe-curlingly close at times.
Coldplay left the main stage twice, first to play a ten-minute techno-pop medley at the front of a long runway that extended deep into the crowd. Later, a heavy security escort ushered them to a spartan mini-stage at the back of the venue, where they strummed a handful of ramshackle acoustic numbers including Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.
At no point during this two-hour set, a slick blend of razzle-dazzle distraction and conscientious effort, was boredom allowed to take hold. Martin’s relentless niceness and studied humility may have grated at times, but in the end it served its purpose. Relax, Chris. Mission accomplished. Everybody loves you.
Vote for Jenny and win £500 prize pot for the Coldplaying Awards 2009!
The forthcoming Coldplaying Awards 2009 just got a little tastier! Our admin person Jenjie has just submitted a personal entry into the Absolute Radio Live Stories mini-competition that closes on Friday 25th September at 5pm. Here's the interesting part - if Jenjie (Jenny) comes FIRST in the online voting competition, all winners of the Coldplaying Awards 2009 categories will go into a prize draw to win a share of £500! Five lucky category winners drawn out at random will each win £100 - but once again... ONLY if Jenjie wins the Absolute competition!
VOTE FOR "JENNY: COLDPLAY" - http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/music/live/stories/voting_new.html
Photos of Coldplay at LCCC, Old Trafford, Manchester (12 September 2009):
Pictures by busybeeburns
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