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    Toronto review 5: There's a reason Coldplay is in the big leagues

    magicball5.jpgIn many ways, the world of pop music is akin to the world of professional sports. One invariably starts at the bottom (the minors) and works one's way slowly to the Big Leagues (the exceptions jump the queue via shows such as American Idol ). Thursday night's triptych at the Rogers Centre offered a classic example of three bands at different levels on the ladder, bottom to top, writes The Globe and Mail.


    I purposely arrived early to catch the relatively unknown rookies Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, a trio of young London, England, siblings whose influences include vintage 78 rpm records and classic fifties rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and blues. Integrating standup bass, barrelhouse piano and laptop guitar into the mix, the group (which is rounded out by Mum and Dad on guitar and bass) covers the likes of Johnny Horton ( Mean Son of a Gun ), Louis Jordan ( Ooo-Wee ) and Canned Heat ( Going Up the Country ), making them a kind of present-day version of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. It was good fun, but would have worked far better in an intimate club setting than in that cavernous, still-filling stadium. Quirky, but destined for anonymity in the minors.

    Second-billed Elbow gives every indication of an act ready to break into the Big Leagues worldwide (in Britain the band's pretty much already there). This earnest and unpretentious quintet from Manchester is at the forefront of a movement to bring 1970s-style prog rock back to the mainstream.


    Led by humble and appreciative lead singer Guy Garvey, echoes of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis reverberated throughout the short but intriguing performance. Layering later-period Gabriel, world-beat rhythms, classically inspired keyboards and skittish Robert Fripp-styled guitars behind Garvey's very British and understated vocals, Elbow picked up where Genesis apologists Marillion left off. An unlikely choice for Coldplay's lead-in, but intriguing.


    Internet chatter would have it that London-based Coldplay has eclipsed U2 as the biggest band in the world right now. I don't really think so, but don't try and tell that to the 45,000 fans in attendance Thursday, who sung along joyously to nearly every song in the band's generous two-hour-plus set.


    Comprising “three really shy people and one idiot” (the latter, presumably, being affable and charismatic lead singer Chris Martin), Coldplay gave a remarkable performance that illustrated that this Grammy-winning band has mastered the art of arena rock. The massive performance had everything, including every song a Coldplay fan could have wanted to hear and then some. Backed by five large screens, the performance was actually played out on a simple stage set that let the music (and Martin) do the talking.


    But the show was cleverly structured so that attention never waned. On breakthrough hit Yellow , hundreds of large yellow balloons floated down from the rafters. Late-set number Lovers in Japan featured another storm, this of confetti. Lasers and video clips were inserted, but sparingly. A highlight came when the quartet ventured down to a smaller stage mid-arena to perform a short acoustic set which included a tribute to Michael Jackson ( Billie Jean ).


    Martin himself has grown into an incredibly warm and vivacious front man who never stops smiling and totally connects with his audience. Inviting sing-alongs (“consider this your Canadian Idol audition”), Martin probably got more than he intended when the audience simply would not stop chanting the chorus to the massive hit Viva La Vida . Ultimately the band had to drown them out simply by starting its next number, Lost .


    During the encore, Martin suggested that the band probably would not be back in Toronto “for a couple of years.” All good and well, then, that we got to see the quartet at what is probably the height of its fame and power, in an arena-rock spectacle that was just about as good as it gets.


    Source: The Globe and Mail


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


















    Pictures by PJMixer @ flickr





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