Think U2 – but without the twats…

Difficult as it may now be to believe, but Coldplay were once considered also-rans to the likes of Travis, Alfie and Turin Breaks.

Back amidst the dot-com burst of 2000, this strand of whimsical indie found itself touted as sanctuary for those unsettled by UK Garage and its bleakly materialistic view of the forthcoming decade. Christened NAM (New Acoustic Movement) and utterly lacking any sense of cohesion beyond a scene-starved set of journos, the public wisely sacked it right off and looked to the fidgety production of US hip-hop for their musical nourishment.

Spring ahead eight years and you’d readily be mistaken for thinking someone had been retrospectively fiddling with the timelines. Stood in the humid belly of Los Angeles’ vast Forum venue (situated in the not so salubrious Inglewood district), Coldplay appear to have 18,000 hyped up yanks in the palm of their marker-penned hand. The first date of their Viva la Vida World tour, the current Clash cover stars have successfully jettisoned any accusations of “bedwetting” (courtesy of Alan McGee) to become that rarest of commodities; a band which demolish the mainstream without abandoning their leftfield roots. Think U2 – but without the twats…

Opening through Life In Technicolor, Coldplay positively glowed - filling the stage in a manner which would have seemed impossible when I saw them nervously shuffling through a support slot for Campag Velocet nine years ago. Where they were once gauche and eager, they are now bold and magnetic; twisting their sound into an arena felling show which draws in your attention then pulls it right back out for widescreen impact. Juxtaposing the fragile intimacy of a song like Trouble with the laser-punched bombast of Clocks, Coldplay seem totally at ease with their newly found ‘biggest band in the world’ status.

Rattling through a back catalogue that could already furnish a well stocked best-of, The Scientist, God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, In My Place and Fix You all met with sing-a-long adoration – as the band put on a stage show that didn’t leave you squinting at a huddled group of skinny lads in the middle distance. Utilizing stage piers that ran into the crowd (at the end of which sat Ant & Dec no less…), video globes which bobbed from the ceiling and a busked version of ‘Yellow’ high up in the stands, Coldplay seem fearless in embracing Megadome style theatrics. And quite right they are too – it leaves everyone feeling that they saw something unique and special.

“It's a bit cheesy but we couldn't ask for more from an audience on a Monday night in sweltering July” bellowed Chris Martin from the stage and for once it seemed more than a rock star giving a communal handjob to those in attendance. Spiky and kinetic, the new look Coldplay are best encapsulated by the stunning finale of Lovers In Japan – wherein the whole arena filled with a blizzard of confetti butterflies to awe inspiring effect. British bands have traditionally eschewed the idea of music as a spectacle, seemingly believing it somehow diminishes their rock’n’roll credentials. However when you can pull it off without compromising your sound or aesthetic, there seems little reason not to embrace it head on. Coldplay; veni, vidi, vici…

Set List:

'Life In Technicolor'
'Violet Hill'
'In My Place'
'Viva La Vida'
'The Scientist'
'Chinese Sleep Chant'
'God Put A Smile Upon Your Face'
'Square One'
'Speed Of Sound'
'Strawberry Swing'
'Death Will Never Conquer'
'Fix You'
'Lovers In Japan'
'Death And All His Friends'
'The Escapist'


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