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Coldplay nothing short of phenomenal
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Coldplay nothing short of phenomenal

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Coldplay
June 21
GM Place (Vancouver BC)


Mass popularity hasn't turned Coldplay into an assembly line performer, instead they've become a more vigorous live act with an unparalleled catalog that can sell out any sports stadium in the world - from Dallas to Dubai, and all points between, this band draws them in by the thousands.

Playing the second of back-to-back shows at Vancouver's GM Place, the international superstars opened their set promptly at 9 p.m. with "Life in Technicolor," the leadoff instrumental track from last year's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Behind a giant curtain, the shadows of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion emerged - the packed arena went absolutely wild, and everyone was on their feet waiting for that curtain to drop. Once it did, the multiple Grammy-winners zipped into a beautiful version of "Violet Hill."

"Clocks" was the next song of the night, sounding incredible and met with a mixture of green, blue, and red laser lights. Even better was a tight rendition of "In My Place," which sparked fans to sing the chorus at high volume, while the popular ballad "Yellow" saw two large sacks of yellow balloons float from ceiling to floor and were then patted around by concertgoers on the main floor.

At the once-held Pemberton Festival, when Viva la Vida was barely a month old, Coldplay omitted "Cemeteries of London" from that evening's roster and I was heartbroken. But I immediately forgave them when they performed it in Vancouver with the same mystical, haunting effect as that on the CD - a classy touch was black and white imagery flashed on a wall-sized projection screen behind the band, plus a pair of small screens positioned at mid-length of the floor. Seriously, I shivered during "Cemeteries of London" and nearly reached for a tissue with delight.

A highlight had to be a gripping version of "Fix You," off Coldplay's third album X & Y - it was a deeply moving piece that allowed fans to sway, flick lighters, and sing loudly to the tune's uplifting lyrics (said to be written for Gwyneth Paltrow, wife of Chris Martin, following the death of her father). A short medley that included "Talk" was sweet, though it could've easily been replaced by a better number. On the contrary, "The Hardest Part" was riveting, as Martin and Champion dueted on vocals - I loved how they kept it simple and acoustic.

At one point during the show, Coldplay surprised everybody by running to the opposite end of the stadium to perform a trio of tunes, which included "Green Eyes" and The Monkees' "I'm a Believer," accompanied only by guitars and a banjo. Ticketholders parked in this 100-level seating section were in utter shock. It was here when Martin asked the 16,000 or so in attendance to participate in a wave like those seen on the Super Bowl, using their cell phones in place of hands - you should've seen the glow of lights ripple from one side of the stadium to the other!

"Lost" was a thrill, complete with tribal-like percussion and moody guitars, and it was speedier than its very slow delivery at Pemberton - that melancholy guitar solo by Buckland during the bridge is something I can listen to over and over and over again. The jangly background of "Viva la Vida" was drowned out by the thunderous claps and enthusiastic chanting by the whole venue, myself included - it felt like a big family party, as fans looked around to see everyone else chanting at the top of their lungs.

Nothing could top the energy of "Lovers in Japan" - my personal favorite off the newest album - as images of Japanese culture were shown on the screens, and somewhere in the second verse butterfly-shaped confetti, in every color, began to rain from the roof of GM Place. By this point, many in the audience fully extended their arms in the air as buckets of confetti continued to shower on everyone's heads.

"Politik" closed out the main set, and while it was a great rendition it lacked a bit of electricity from what I've witnessed at previous concerts. Still, the monstrous display of colorful lights gave it some intensity. For an encore, Coldplay dazzled on a chilling re-do of "The Scientist" and capped the show with a lyrics-inclusive repeat of "Life in Technicolor." The word "VIVA" was illuminated on a huge banner immediately following the band's farewell to the crowd, matched with ear-piercing cheers and a well-deserved standing ovation, even from those up in the nosebleeds.

Martin, who usually takes the form of a human grasshopper during live performances, was quite settled in Vancouver - however, he still looked damn cute in his vintage military coats, cropped hair and tight pants (by the way, he wears tightie-whities). Berryman was oh so delicious in snug jeans, red long-sleeve shirt and black vest, while the tall Buckland looked dapper in blue dress pants and two separate shirts (he changed midway through the show). And, I can't help but applaud Champion for his bravery in wearing a lavender scarf from beginning to end - he looked adorable, and totally rocked that scarf!

The visuals from the concert were spectacular - globe-shaped lamps descended from above and from each side of the stage, used not only for decor but also as individual screens, as images and graphics were shown in circular motion.

Both Vancouver shows were videotaped for a future DVD release, of which Martin asked concertgoers if they minded being on camera - they didn't, obviously.

You really have to give Coldplay credit for sounding fresh and flawless, especially after an entire year of touring the last album. This was a concert worth every penny of the ticket price, a high quality two-hour performance from a group that has masterfully balanced worldwide commercial success, artistic credibility, and a surprisingly display of humility - what you didn't get from Coldplay on this night was bloated egos, and we love them for that.

Coldplay returns to the Northwest next month for sold-out gigs at Clark County and The Gorge amphitheaters.

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