Friday, September 02, 2005

"One of the best concerts I've ever been to" - Matt

Until we go to the U2 concert in December, Matt has proclaimed last night's Coldplay concert the best concert he's ever seen. I've had the privilege to enjoy some fantastic performances by musical acts in my lifetime including Soul Coughing, Rusted Root, Tori Amos, and Def Leppard. This will rank near the very top in terms of quality of musicianship, stage show, and general good vibe at the concert. I got a little emotional when "Politik" came on since that was the song that sealed the deal for me when I saw it performed at the Grammy's back in 2003. When you live in Western New York, you can never be sure that you'll get to see your favorite bands perform live, and when you do get the chance it can be magical.

Here's the review in today's Buffalo News:

Coldplay is hot
Band brings passion to show that possesses feel of arena rock

News Pop Music Critic

Based solely on its recorded output, Coldplay should be at once praised for bringing sensitive guy rock and an impeccable sense of melody back to the mainstream, and cursed for it.

There is the tendency for cookie-cutter bands to ride the wake of successful artists, and with Coldplay's success, that has meant a whole lot of overly earnest rock music that takes itself far more seriously than it should.

Coldplay's recent release, "X&Y," fits that mold, even though it would be ridiculous to accuse the quartet of copying itself. It has seemed imperative for something dark, edgy and ugly to break through the veneer of politeness that coats the band's records, as great as they are, harmonically and melodically. Remember, this is why punk rock showed up in the first place; things were getting much too safe, much too clean and neat.

Happily, on Thursday evening, before what sure looked like a sold-out Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Coldplay kicked whatever preconceptions might exist firmly and squarely in the buttocks, and proceeded to put on a highly impassioned, incredibly tight arena-rock show, with only a few missteps.

Most of these had to do with pacing. On occasion, tunes with similar tempos and all but dynamic blueprints butted up against each other, and that reduced the impact of both of them. But largely, Coldplay satisfied on the very level that the band is hoping to reach - the arena of large-scale, populist, mainstream rock music.

Opening with what can only be described as an incredibly powerful right-hand cut to the cranium, the band gave us the lead-off track from "X&Y," "Square One," and then proceeded directly into the rallying call that is "Politik," the tune that was more than likely the port-of-entry for at least half of Thursday's crowd.

Combined with what was surely one of the most exciting light shows this side of Pink Floyd, this opening was simply astounding.

It didn't let up from there, as "Yellow," the band's first hit, from its major-label debut, "Parachutes," was given an added kick singer/pianist Chris Martin's strapping on of a Vox Teardrop electric, and fat yellow balloons were blown into the crowd from the rear of the amphitheater.

Guitarist John Buckland is the guy providing the majority of the harmonic information, and he should be praised.He also sang harmony, as did uber-tight and incredibly driving bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion, who relentlessly drove this band throughout the show.

There were the requisite ballads, of course, at which Coldplay excels. There is always the presence of U2 hanging over this band, which is a bit unfair for a group touring behind its third record. But Coldplay welcomes this sort of comparison, and the band's desire to wear its heart on its sleeve, to create populist art that can somehow touch people deeply, and encourage sing-alongs that aren't completely mindless and cheesy is to be commended.

"Speed of Sound" was killer, and "Everything's Not Lost" and "Swallowed In the Sea" truly impressed, as Martin, at the piano, led the group through elegant chord changes that screamed of empathy and pathos. If we didn't know what for, we still felt it.

And that's the case with Coldplay now. The band is no longer a hipster Brit-pop act. It has gone mainstream, and has made every attempt to take its integrity along with it for the ride. In this, the band is succeeding on the same level as its biggest heroes, U2. Its music comes to life, and it touches the life of the listener.

And from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

September 2, 2005
Coldplay proves it deserves its fame
Jeff Spevak
Staff music critic

Oasis, Blur, Radiohead: Let's put 'em all on an island with some rusty pitchforks and have us a Battle of the Brit-Pop Burnouts.

But not Coldplay.

These guys are as real as U2.

Some 16,000 came out Thursday night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center to see the much-hyped melodic-rock wunderkinds. Surely no one walked away without wondering how Coldplay could have gotten so good, so fast.

Like U2's recent tours, Coldplay's stage set was all business. The guitars, keyboards and drum kit sat on a stark stage, like a tray full of surgical instruments, backed by an array of penetrating lights and a huge video screen, projecting images often every bit as obtuse as Coldplay's lyrics.

Taking the stage in front of this huge screen, Coldplay looked like shadow puppets moving jerkily before a huge digital-clock countdown.

The video screen also engaged in a bit of mass-crowd prompting, urging people to get out their cameras and, at a countdown, snap a photo of the band.

The venue twinkled with tiny blue-white flashes.

Like U2's Bono, Coldplay's Chris Martin is a mesmerizing front man, although the guy he's really the most like is the Tragically Hip's Gordon Downie.

Martin's favorite move is a one-footed bounce, but he also skips lightly about, drops to his knees, gestures toward the sky, windmills like a little kid, plays acoustic guitar for "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face," and rocks furiously on the piano stool for Coldplay's grand "Politik" and "Clocks."

Grand. Like U2, that's the word for Coldplay's songs. Vast soundscapes accompanied by Martin's onstage dramatics and soaring vocals. The dynamics ebb and flow within each song, a crash and then a whisper. For "Yellow," huge yellow balloons drifted down from the pavilion rafters onto the crowd, which batted them about until they discovered that popping the things released a shower of confetti.

Like U2, Coldplay's four members — Martin plus guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman — have distinct personalities of their own. Despite the fact that they were each wearing all-black outfits.

It's all happening fast for Coldplay. The band's 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, seemed a tough masterpiece to follow, but the new X&Y does the trick.

Fast, but unlike U2's Bono, Martin hasn't had a meeting yet with the pope. He is, however, married to Gwyneth Paltrow, which must be something of a religious experience.

An acoustic set included a tribute to Johnny Cash and his "Ring of Fire."

Martin's gymnastics also included climbing one of the tall support posts in the middle of the pavilion and engaging the crowd in a call-and-response sing-along during "In My Place."

Martin's self-effacing humor also included a comment that Coldplay was voted "Ugliest rock band" by the British public. "We're not the Backstreet Boys," Martin said.

Rilo Kiley was yet more evidence as to why you should never miss an opening band that you've never heard of.

A six-piece trip-pop with a trumpeter and female lead singer in calf-high white socks, Rilo Kiley's ragtime groove was curious and exotic, like a wedding band at Roger Vadim's wedding. While few of us have entry into the world of French film producers, I'd pay money to see this outfit play in a club.

Across the board, Thursday was perhaps the finest hour or three of rock this summer.

1 comment:

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