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    War Child Review 4: No bull down at the old Bush

    warchild.jpgWednesday's War Child gig, celebrating 15 years of the rock-affiliated charity, makes no secret of its allegiances, reports The Guardian Online. The audience is packed in long beforehand but proceedings don't start until 11pm, giving joint headliners Coldplay and The Killers plenty of time to digest their ceremony dinner across town before heading for Shepherds Bush.

     

    The pay-off is the gig's status as the unofficial Brits aftershow, and a rumour mill buzzing with speculation about who else will appear onstage tonight - a "special guests" slot is scheduled. The chatter on the venue's bush telegraph has Brits presenter Kylie reprising "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" with Coldplay - the British four-piece covered it during their Glastonbury headlining slot in 2005 - and more far-fetched speculation involves a Chris Martin/Iron Maiden hook-up.

     

    But besides these fantasy collaboration pub games, much of the evening's fun involves gawping down at the venue's VIP-only first floor to see which stars are in attendance. Before the fun of the guest section can begin - a quick scan downstairs reveals that Richard Ashcroft, Courtney Love and Neil Tennant are all present and possible contenders (though unlikely in Love's case) - there's the small matter of the two scheduled gigs.

    A concise hour-long performance suits co-headliners the Killers well, allowing them to deliver a terrific Noughties jukebox of a set without delving into the dustier corners of their so-so second album. "Mr Brightside", "Human" and "When You Were Young" are present and correct, but the conspiracy theorists among us take note that their barnstorming usual closer "All These Things That I've Done" is suspiciously absent.

     

    Almost 10 years in a rock-star bubble have done nothing to diminish Chris Martin's populist touch or his heroic levels of uncool. Skipping across the stage at the start of Coldplay's set, fidgeting and chattering excitedly, he might have been custom-built for a feelgood occasion like this, the idea that nice guys win and Hollywood actresses dig nerdy dancing made flesh. Coldplay focus on their notionally conflicted (though really very accessible) latest album Viva La Vida, and also lay on a generous smattering of past hits while various audience members leave their seats and slip backstage for the encore.

     

    Iron Maiden, heart-breakingly, aren't among them, nor is Kylie, but the appearance of Gary Barlow alongside Coldplay for the first of two collaborations makes better musical sense. Take That's mid-Nineties songs provided an early template for some of the piano-led sob stories on Coldplay's 2000 debut; Coldplay returned the favour by inspiring the stadium sound which has driven Take That's hugely successful comeback.

     

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    "Back For Good" is an obvious choice and as wonderful as ever, though neither Martin's nor Barlow's vocals are particularly audible above the communal singalong. But they call in back-up for the final salvo, a rousing version of "All These Things That I've Done" with the Killers lending the song and some extra heft, and a messianic Bono pacing in midway through to consecrate the group jam. "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier," sing representatives of four of the world's biggest acts, as 2,000 cameraphones are held aloft to capture the moment. In the early hours of Thursday morning, Brandon Flowers's famously nonsensical lyric feels like the most affirming sentiment in the world.

     

    This is how every major charity gig since time immemorial has ended of course; everyone onstage, hugs all round and Bono having the last word. But whatever your musical allegiance or feelings about celebrity charity fests, it's impossible not to marvel at the sight of a stadium supergroup gracing a stage more used to hosting indie mid-leaguers. Only a committed cynic would wish they'd stayed at home to watch the Brits.

     

    See more exclusive pictures and videos from those who managed to get lucky tickets here onwards, and visit the full War Child photo album at the Coldplaying Gallery here

     

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