That Coldplay is one the hugest pop bands on the planet is inescapable. The group and its superstar frontman Chris Martin find themselves, a decade-plus into their career, literally having it all: the fame, the fortune (more than 50 million albums sold; packing venues such as the 18,000-capacity Amphitheater at Clark County on a nightly basis), the Grammys (seven), the hot-actress wife and oddly named children (Gwyneth Paltrow; Apple and Moses), writes Oregonlive.com.
That the group has faced down its critics to become one of the finest bands on the planet is a matter of considerably more debate, but for all its suburb-rockin' anthems for the evening commute, Coldplay has perfected what Sting once called "music for window washers to whistle to," the sort of pop that sneaks up on you and won't let your brain be. And that, too, has its place in the world, as the throng of singing, hollering, cell-phone-waving Coldplay faithful made clear Friday night.
Coldplay's piano-driven balladry is to the '00s what Supertramp's similarly-crafted pop was to the '70s: musically accomplished, somewhat unthreatening, rock the whole family can enjoy. But in a live setting, what sounds tame and overly polished on record explodes in a rainbow of Technicolor and light.
Whether on hits such as the relentlessly driving "Clocks," the hooky ballads "Yellow" (accompanied by huge yellow balloons that bounced around the venue like helium pinballs), "The Scientist" and "Fix You," or the dramatic sweep of "Viva La Vida," Coldplay's energy level whipped its set along as if in a race against time.
And whereas in the '70s, bands such as Supertramp once played "in the round" so that fans in every seat in the venue could get a look at their heroes in action, Coldplay took a different tack, playing "all around" by moving its stage to various locations throughout its set, sprinting through the crowd to play a medley of reworked songs ("God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," "Talk") on a tiny platform stage left, then marching to the back of the venue to proffer an acoustic set highlighted by a tribute to the late Michael Jackson via an unusual cover of Billie Jean."
All the while, Martin came across like a likeable anti-star, amiably narrating the show as it progressed ("This is the part of the concert where the singer pretends to go solo, like Justin Timberlake, which turns out to be a terrible idea, then returns to his band as fast as possible," he laughed before launching into "The Hardest Part"), twirling an umbrella under a shower of confetti as the band ripped through "Lovers in Japan," bounding goofily around the stage, switching off easily among various keyboard instruments and guitar.
The capacity crowd lapped it up with gusto: Coldplay may have begun its career as a serious bunch of young students given to midtempo confections with memorable melodies and lyrics devoted to the angst-ridden self-reflection of the undergraduate set, but the latter-day version of the band has amped up the fun quotient considerably, and seems poised to give aging stadium veterans such as U2 a run for the money in the decade to come.
With their day-glow, quasi-military stagewear and classic sensibilities, you can call them Sgt. Pepper's Hearts-on-Sleeves Club Band, a group less likely to "save rock" than to continue to push it ever forward, one hit single at a time.
New pictures of Coldplay at Clark County Amphitheater, Portland, OR (10th July 2009):
Pictures by benie_boi