sun 21/07/2024

Coldplay, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Coldplay, O2 Arena

Coldplay, O2 Arena

Chris Martin and co strip away cynicism with their epic choruses and flashy spectacle

Coldplay's Chris Martin: bouncy and charismatic

It’s easy enough to diss Coldplay: they make music that’s hugely successful (boo!) and not terribly challenging; they’re middle class – a heinous crime in a form of entertainment that’s steeped in notions of “authenticity” (hence the enduring love affair between music critics and the oafish Oasis – hey, they take lots of drugs and they used to steal car radios!); and as people they just seem a bit nice, to the point of dullness.

I’ve done the dissing thing myself often enough: there’s that way of saying “Coldplay” that sounds both slightly sneery and slightly shamefaced, in the same way that an aficionado of organic slow food might pronounce “Nando’s”.  

So, here goes: actually, last night at the O2 Arena I had a blast. It wasn’t the most earth-shattering gig I’ve seen, and the music was mostly pretty one-dimensional, but when there are 18,000 people singing along to one of Coldplay’s big soaring choruses and there’s all manner of spectacular stuff going on, the effect is, well, tingly. Much has been made by some critics of the way Coldplay seem to deliberately engineer their songs specifically so that they can be sung along to, so that they will shimmer around the walls of arenas such as the O2 (and, next summer, the nation’s football stadiums). Is this a bad thing? It’s like saying that James Brown deliberately engineered his music so that people would dance the mashed potato to it.

Remember the days when people flourished fag lighters during rock anthems? It was like that, except a million times better

But for me the clincher was the wristband thing. Let me explain. Audience members were issued with a special wristband before the show; then, when the band hit the stage to the blaring theme from Back to the Future and struck up the first chords of “Hurts Like Heaven” from this year’s Mylo Xyloto album, someone backstage pushed a remote-control button and suddenly each one of those 18,000 wristbands was flashing in all kinds of colours. Remember the days when people flourished fag lighters during rock anthems? It was like that, except a million times better. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Once the excitement of that first burst of energy had worn off, the first half-hour was not that great; “Yellow”, delivered surprisingly early in the set, was lovely, but the pace slipped somewhat after that. But then came the run-in, the home straight, the big choruses and the singalong stuff: “Clocks”, “Viva La Vida”, “Fix You”, “Charlie Brown”. In the face of such an onslaught, resistance was futile. And there’s no sign that they’re running out of choruses: one of the night’s finest, “Paradise”, from the new album, was still being sung by the crowd as they funnelled into the Tube station after the show.

Also, presumably in the full knowledge that Coldplay are not the most exciting band to look at – Chris Martin was bouncy and charismatic, but the other three were just that, the other three – this show’s creators have invested heavily in visuals. For virtually every song, there was something new to look at: giant balloons descended from the rafters, plumes of confetti shot into the air, lasers twitched, the band played on a satellite stage, the lighting rig swayed and shifted, video screens flickered.

And then there were those wristbands. When they lit up and the audience waved their hands in the air, the O2 became a constellation of glowing, twinkling humanity. All cynicism was stripped away.

  • Coldplay tour stadiums throughout the UK next summer

Watch the video for Coldplay's "Paradise"


In the face of such an onslaught, resistance was futile


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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