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    Toronto review 3: Coldplay keep massive fan base satisfied

    magicball1.jpgIf they aren’t officially the “biggest band on the planet,” Coldplay are undoubtedly the most eager to please. This hyper-earnest shtick is at once Coldplay’s greatest blessing and curse. Chris Martin and company are the victims of endless snide remarks by elitist critics, but they never fail when it comes to their prime objective: keeping their massive fan base satisfied, writes EyeWeekly.

     

    This has been the mission statement ever since this quartet of once desperately shy English boys hit it big on the strength of a simple song like “Yellow.” As the Viva La Vida tour enters its second year, they’re at it again, holding up their carefully constructed reputation as down-to-earth, socially responsible do-gooders, with Oxfam volunteers filling up petitions with thousands of signatures, and Rogers Centre security guards handing out a free live album to every fan.

    Jon Pareles’ famous New York Times article that essentially labeled 2005’s X and Y a cold, calculated moneymaking venture still rings true. No matter that Martin is self-deprecating to a fault, poking fun at his own haircut one minute before describing his band as “one idiot and three very shy men,” there’s no escaping the feeling that this is a rock 'n’ roll band packaged for ideal mass consumption.

     

    In fact, the opening acts suggest this could well have been named The Inoffensive Music Tour. Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis began the proceedings with a largely forgettable set of swinging, bluesy numbers. They were followed by unlikely Mercury Prize winners Elbow, whose brand of adult-contempo Britpop would have made for uplifting background music, had the lighting not been so impressive.

     

    Yet not unlike Santa Claus, Coldplay are a fantasy that nearly every kind soul longs to believe in, especially those with a weakness for melody. The sold-out SkyDome (doesn’t everyone still call it the SkyDome?) crowd was made up of a predictable demographic: an even split of swooning women and dudes who probably won’t admit to their buddies that they bellowed “Fix You” at the top of their lungs.

     

    Debate the honesty of the emotions if you will, but the bottom line is that the hits stand up. Whether bounding across the stage, sprinkling sweat on his fans during “In My Place,” or settling down for a moving solo piano version of “The Hardest Part,” Martin had the crowd right where perfect lighting and his effervescent antics made sure to put them — the palm of his hand. The sheer power of “Vida La Vida” is enough to make you forget that everyone from Cat Stevens to Joe Satriani to some douchebag from Brooklyn claims to have written it first.

     

    The string of anthems and dizzying production values are overwhelming enough, but Coldplay are wise enough to always go the extra mile. Witness the oversize, confetti-filled balloons released during “Yellow,” and the hurricane of neon butterflies that whirled down from the retractable roof amid Martin’s dizzy piano line on the glorious “Lovers In Japan.”

     

    As if the protruding side stages for increased fan interaction weren’t enough, they run, Beatlemania-style, to the back of the stadium for a three-song acoustic set. During which we get the evening’s only true misstep, an ill-advised cover of “Billie Jean” that’s really fucking cliché, even by Coldplay standards.

     

    Emerging alone for the encore, Martin took a moment to address his adoring public before breaking into a mournful rendition of “The Scientist,” thanking us profusely and suggesting they’ll be back in a couple of years, maybe more. Next time around, here’s hoping Martin bucks his incredibly annoying trend of trumpeting the virtues of the new material after explaining all the reasons his previous multi-platinum effort was nothing more than a piece of shit.

     

    But perhaps this is precisely why Martin and his mates aren’t ashamed to keep their faults (lack of personality, clunky lyrics, ersatz Sgt. Pepper stage outfits) on full display — Coldplay admit they’re far from perfect, and no one seems to mind. In fact, they’re the kind of international rock stars who present a birthday cake to their drummer and get 40,000 delighted Canadians to sing Happy Birthday.

     

    They’ve completed and perhaps even perfected the transition from mawkish Britpop outfit to stadium-packing megastars, whose glossy performances come with a hefty price tag. If a Coldplay show is expensive enough to qualify as an investment, two hours of sparkling anthems are a worthwhile return. And the complimentary live album is a sweet dividend.

     

    Source: Eye Weekly

     

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    More new pictures of Coldplay at Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON (30th July 2009):

     

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    Pictures by Christopher Liando @ flickr

     

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