RALEIGH -- The easy points of comparison for Coldplay are Radiohead and U2, both of which certainly apply. But if you want to get beyond sonic similarities and consider Coldplay's broader place on the landscape, the group's current stature resembles no one so much as 1970s-era Elton John -- someone else who commands a lot more respect now than he did in his prime, writes the News & Observer.
Tastemakers put Coldplay down as a denatured version of Radiohead and U2. But four albums and a decade into a recording career that's getting bigger all the time, the well-established Coldplay brand shows every sign of outlasting its detractors. The group drew a near-sellout crowd to Raleigh's Time Warner Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek Thursday night, and a run of stadium dates in Europe beckons. And what do you know, Coldplay's latest album has outsold the latest from U2 by multiples.
The biggest reason for Coldplay's popularity is that the group still provides that communal classic-rock experience. And when the group connects, it's pretty great. A perfect riff is a perfect riff, and piano hooks don't get much more perfect than the one to Coldplay's "Clocks."
Thursday night's show offered up a two-hour serving of highly likable arena rock, heavy on songs from last year's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" (Capitol Records). As capital-S Shows go, it was state of the art.
Each song had a separate and discrete visual presentation, with dazzling lights and lasers and effects that marked an impressive step up from Coldplay's last Triangle show in 2005. There were fancy visual props, such as the five large overhead globes flickering with images, offset by some downright low-tech effects.
The band came onstage twirling sparklers from behind a screen, and butterfly-shaped confetti figured prominently into "Lovers in Japan." The group ventured out from the stage not once but twice to play on two separate satellite stages. And frontman Chris Martin even got the crowd in on the special-effects act by coaching everyone to do a "cell-phone wave."
Martin is the group's signature personality, and he is more of a capable than an inspired performer. Yet he commanded attention, projecting an impressive balance between average-guy charm and rock-star presence. With his paramilitary jacket and "OBA/MAR/OCK" armband, he looked like a ragamuffin gendarme in charge of an urchin army. That would have been the crowd, which he coached to holler and sing along repeatedly.
Highlights included a pounding "Politik," with strobe lights blinding enough to induce seizures; the opening "Life in Technicolor," and an acoustic cover of "Billie Jean" from out on one of the satellite stages, a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. The latter song was ragged but right -- always nice to see rock stars willing to let the warts show, too, especially when they're the biggest rock stars on the planet.
Source: The News & Observer
More photos from Coldplay's set at All Points West festival, Liberty State Park, New Jersey (2nd August 2009):
Pictures by Jamd
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