Bands, like politicians, need to get re-elected every so often. Take Coldplay, who staged a campaign stop of sorts for 16,000 people on Friday night at Cruzan Amphitheatre, west of West Palm Beach. There were remarks, confetti, balloons and presents: The band sent attendees home with a free concert CD, reports The Sun Sentinel (dot com).
Likewise, the appearance of singer Chris Martin's wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, could have come from a political playbook. Paltrow made an entrance befitting a popular first lady, taking a seat up close to watch the concert alongside everyone else. This was Coldplay's second South Florida stop in six months, and "the first night of the last leg of the 'Viva la Vida' tour," as Martin described the itinerary. The show and the set list haven't changed much between visits, but the tone on Friday was noticeably different -- more directed.
In November, while a rock star of politics was claiming the White House, Coldplay just came to entertain. This time, with the Grammy-winning British quartet starting the wind-down toward (presumably) a break, the concert felt like an effort to hang on to votes. Coldplay wants to remain in fans' hearts and minds until the next album and tour.
In this swing state, where Martin himself announced the attendance figure of 16,000, they've probably succeeded. The concert was an effective pitch for the crowd's favor, with occasionally stellar music. Coldplay played anthemic rockers with easy-to-remember slogans: "Open up your eyes" (from "Politik," natch) and "If you never try you'll never know" (from the ballad "Fix You"). Repetition being a favorite tool of political message-shapers, Coldplay seemed determined to keep changes in tempo and mood to a pleasant minimum. Songs from the band's four studio albums ran together like paragraphs in a well-polished stump speech.
There were beautiful exceptions. Coldplay's best song, still, "Clocks" rose above the rest with its shifting triads, thrumming bass lines and Martin's plangent melody stretched across the chords. "Viva la Vida," an orchestral tale of glory and ruin ("Sweep the streets I used to own"), got a rousing assist from the crowd. Martin sang it without a trace of rancor, considering all the recent claims on its authorship.
The band tossed in an oldie, the Monkees' I'm a Believer. It was a telling choice of covers. When Coldplay broke through in 2000, they made sense in the company of a couple of other U.K. bands -- Doves and Muse -- that occupied sonic space between U2's royal empathy and Radiohead's melancholy squall.
As they've gained in renown, they've gone backwards in time. Coldplay's songwriting has taken on the very British wistfulness one hears in stand-bys such as Paul McCartney's "Penny Lane" and Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill." It wouldn't be the first campaign based on appeals to a kinder, gentler past.
Source: Sun Sentinel
More pictures of the West Palm Beach show: