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    Ottawa Review: Coldplay Heats Up Stage (5*/5*)

    magicball8.jpgColdplay have been around long enough to know how to work an arena better than Jason Spezza, reports the Ottawa Sun.


    But last night, the current kings of British pop brought a bagful of tricks to their gig at Scotiabank Place that only the very best can. The band that might be the next U2 -- singer Chris Martin, drummer Will Champion, guitarist Jonny Buckland and bassist Guy Berryman -- launched their North American tour here last night and judging by their show, few bands even come close to Coldplay in a live setting.


    Back in June, the reviews for their fourth CD Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends were glowing, thanks in part to producer Brian Eno, who lit a creative fire under the band as he did for U2 with The Unforgettable Fire almost 20 years ago. Eno inspired the band to aim higher than on previous efforts. Now, after only four discs, Coldplay is being compared to the best bands ever.

    They lived up to that billing last night with a spectacular show at Scotiabank Place in front of 13,000 adoring fans.


    With Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" draped across the back of the stage and round video screens that looked like giant Chinese lanterns hanging throughout the arena, the band opened in theatrical fashion with prerecorded chunks of The Nutcracker playing in the dark. The joint erupted in a huge ovation as soon as they heard the first notes of the instrumental Life in Technicolor and Martin's plaintive vocal wail on Violet Hill and all those piano triads that signalled the band's most radio-friendly tune Clocks.


    Combining the best of their previous CDs -- Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y with a hefty dose from Viva la Vida, the band has plenty to choose from.


    Dressed like one of the French soldiers in Delacroix's painting, Martin performed like a man at top of his craft. Charming as well as a prolific performer, he bounced lightly between piano and guitar, occasionally punctuating his performance with pratfalling dances like Charlie Chaplin.


    The early setlist included In My Place, Speed of Sound, Cemeteries of London, all choreographed with an atmospheric light show that recalled a Middle Eastern desert tent. Even more miraculous was the superb studio-quality sound.


    They had all 13,000 on their feet for Fix You, Strawberry Swing and a pared-down version of Talk, after which the band left a playful Martin alone at the piano.


    "Another British band, Oasis, didn't have such a good time when they were in Canada a couple weeks ago and that's caused a horrible rift between our two countries," he joked, referring to the band being attacked in Toronto in September.


    "I hope we can bridge that terrible gap tonight," he concluded before playing a solo piano turn on The Hardest Part, with drummer Champion moving beside Martin for Viva la Vida and Lost.


    Later, in what seemed to be a calculated but playful move, the band joined fans down at a 100-level suite at the back of the arena, playing a bare bluegrass version of The Scientist.


    Coldplay wound things down with Lovers in Japan and Yellow. As concerts go, it was brilliant, choreographed from start to finish with gorgeous playing, a varied setlist and enough theatrical magic to take your breath away.


    The only thing missing was a little messy raw rock energy to add a little danger to the show. Oh, who am I kidding? This is Coldplay, after all.


    More on this review here onwards [thanks mimixxx]















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