The Chris Martin / Jay Z love-in always felt like a match made in celebdom rather than musical heaven, but at Wembley their shared ability to interpret the wisdom of crowds was obvious, writes BBC 6Music. [thanks RedGirl76]
Viva La Vida already has a Grammy and the title of the world’s biggest selling album behind it, but since the record itself is a brisk 47 minutes, the two-hour set demanded by a Wembley headline inevitably had to draw heavily on their previous three efforts. Yellow was dropped into the set quite early on – complete with giant yellow balloons, while there were big roars for Fix You, and Trouble, on which the band were joined by their comedian friend Simon Pegg.
Coldplay have been beating a path to stadium rock ever since A Rush of Blood to the Head with ever more expansive guitars and layered harmonies, but the Eno/U2 blueprint evident in Viva La Vida undoubtedly kicks them a lot further along. Moreover, the acknowledged Kraftwerk hook in Talk aside, plagiarism disputes with Joe Satriani and Cat Stevens seem a touch irrelevant since so much of band’s material feels like an unabashed aggregation of recent rock history into large crowd-pleasing form.
The problem for Coldplay though, is that in spite of a sound that is big enough and songs that are universal enough to sate such a crowd, the quartet’s audience participation feels a bit contrived. Having said that they did manage one very amusing moment in getting the seventy thousand-strong crowd to sing along to the last verse of Yellow, and apparently in honour of Cheryl Cole, played clips of Simon Cowell’s reaction cut from Pop Idol.
Indeed, special mention should also go to Girls Aloud, who despite being sandwiched between the hip hop star and White Lies, were unswerving in their exposition of the purest manufactured pop. Probably the most curious moment, though, was a cover of Billie Jean to close the main set, by which point the band had decamped to a small square stage within the crowd. Needless to say, it was one of several features within the show that cynics would term gimmicks, but which fans undoubtedly appreciated.
Either way they were clearly a band determined to prove themselves all-round entertainers, and repay the thousands who, in Chris Martin's words, "trusted us with your Friday night," rather than seek the approval of indie rock critics. Meanwhile Jay Z, fresh from a showcase of his latest album Blueprint 3 at London’s Roundhouse last night, took the opportunity to give a brief but high energy cocktail of his biggest hits – dropping in touches of Pharrel and Busta Rhymes along the way.
Recently Jay Z said that he’s enjoying indie rock more than hip hop at the moment – lionising Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear along the way – and tonight’s gig demonstrated that it can be much easier for a rock band to connect with a big audience. The problem is that few bands have been able to tap into the mass market psyche as effectively as Coldplay – even if they’re very much the daughters of invention rather than the mothers of it when it comes to musical innovation.
The latest discussion on both of the Wembley concerts is at the Coldplay forum here.
Photos of Coldplay at Wembley stadium, London, UK (19th September 2009):
Pictures by busybeeburns
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