So… not so bad being the world’s biggest pop-rock band after all. Not on the perfect 2009 Montreal night – the only one. Not when even La Ronde’s fireworks display were perfectly timed to open one of your ballad-anthems. And not when 30,000 people jammed Parc jean Drapeau and Osheaga for its biggest-ever single act, writes the Montreal Gazette.
So we’ll drop any debates about the significance of Coldplay, or the critical resistance to their ambitions claiming a status deeper than the one they own: globe-conquering pop band.
Night had come down as the River Stage shadow-scrim silhouetted the band for Violet Hill’s soft-focus war memorial. Goosepimple red lighting for the climactic Clocks, followed by singer Chris Martin scrambling stage left to throw the chorus of In My Place to the masses. “Merci beaucoup, mes amis,” he said, before the stage went Yellow and balloons bounced over the audience.
After those four songs, they’d won. Debate about pop-rock (well… yeah) versus rock, popularity versus status, had dissolved in the certainty that Chris Martin’s globe-orbiting melodies were going to own the night. Delivering the co-dependent anthem Fix You only revealed more deeply how these songs find the soft spot in every listener. The videoscreen shot of all the girls in the front row singing along was priceless.
And when you’re winning… the band somehow made its way to a platform mid-crowd for a mini acoustic set. Fireworks to their left, August moon to their right… both of which Martin pointed to. It was as though Montreal were having a summer.
As is his wont, Martin flew around the stage, charmingly, ungainly, in his majorette jacket, engaging the massive crowd in French (“, ***, *** – terrible!” when a singalong was off-time). More interestingly, he played with virtually every song – meaning the band had taken the time to work something specifically live into the setlist, and to recognize something few bands do: pop hooks can be elastic, if you care enough to stretch them. God Put A Smile Upon My Face was discofied, and winningly so. Drummer Will Champion manned the kettles for Viva La Vida (admittedly, a staple). Guitarist Johnny Buckland made a point of nailing his hooks on the big screen.
Mostly, this was a band enjoyed its headliner status, and knew that – even if these songs are, at heart, softer than some of the bands on the plateau above them.
Is there meaning beyond that? Certainly. But last night, Eddie Vedder might have done well to note the joy in playing your hits for fans some of whom idly want, and others who may even deeply need them. And last night, even Bono might have been a little envious.
Source: Montreal Gazette
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