Coldplay's spectacular live return

Last night Brixton Academy staged the welcome live return of current Clash cover stars Coldplay ­ in front of a sold out crowd of fan club members, competition winners and more than one celebrity follower.

The free show came four days after the release of their fourth album, "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends", which has already gained platinum status and topped charts across the globe ­ and rightfully so. Jon Hopkins, one of co -producers of 'Vida La Vida' opened proceedings with extracts of his forthcoming release 'Insiders', accompanied by animation from Vince Collins.

The album's instrumental opener, "Life In Technicolour", ushered the band on stage as one by one they picked up their weapons and brought it to a sweeping climax, before slipping seamlessly into first single "Violet Hill". The band, all dressed in their new "peasant revolutionaries" uniform as worn on the Clash cover, seemed totally confident of their new material; Chris Martin swaggering across the length of the stage with his guitar held proudly over his chest.

Although a new single, it was accompanied by an audience singalong proof if needed that the album has already won the hearts of the nation. The singing continued through the classic "Clocks" and the still spine-tingling "In My Place", before the timpani drums were wheeled centre stage for Will to bash through "Viva La Vida", the album's stunning title track.

A definite highlight of the set, its pounding drums and stirring string section sets up a future anthem, and is echoed by everyone present, whose arms rise aloft as the song's chorus bursts into effect.

Later, as he took to the piano, Chris Martin offered a brief cheeky rendition of a Girls Aloud tune before segueing effortlessly into their own "Trouble", stopping after the first line to admire his own switch: "Wasn't that a seamless crossover?" he joked. "In years to come when the band split up and I'm doing a piano turn on a cross channel ferry you can say to me, 'Chris, I remember when you used to be a pop star. You used to do great crossovers between songs', and I'll say "thank you!" What a ferry journey
that will be!"

After announcing that "Strawberry Swing" would be the final song and disappearing off stage, it was less than a minute before the band appeared on the balcony above the side of the stage armed with acoustic guitars and percussion. Their stripped down version of "Yellow" was ever more poignant, with hundreds of mobile phones and cameras raised to capture the moment. Drummer Will Champion then took the microphone for a quick cover of The Pogues' "If I Should Fall From Grace With God".

Returning to the stage, next up was the brilliant "Fix You". Its emotive strains still wrench the heart strings, while the lyrics serve to see couples embracing, friends singing in unison and tender moments of rapture everywhere.

Closing with "Lovers In Japan", the crowd were showered with multicoloured paper butterflies blasted out from the stage and above our heads. The pretty sight as they floated down complimented the song's optimistic tone, and it was clear to see that the celebratory mood had obviously reached those on stage as well as off.

It will be some time before we get to see Coldplay in such intimate surroundings again, but rest assured this tour is going to be a blast wherever you catch them ­ just make sure you do.

The full set list:

Life In Technicolor
Violet Hill
In My Place
Viva La Vida
Chinese Sleep Chant
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
Square One
Strawberry Swing
If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Fix You
Lovers In Japan

Read excerpts from our amazing new Coldplay interview here!

Watch footage of Coldplay performing 'Viva La Vida' from the gig here.

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