Full Disclosure: I attended Coldplay’s gig last night for two reasons. One, I drag Amanda to a lot of gigs and I owed her one (or 43). Two, I love Mercury Rev and seeing them support Coldplay was the only chance I was going to get to see them. Alright…
While I used to enjoy Coldplay (loved Parachutes back in the day), I can’t call myself a fan now. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get into the final gig of their Australian tour last night at Acer Arena. But you know what?
Coldplay have nailed the arena show.
When you get to the stature of a band like Coldplay the inevitable problem occurs: how do you play large venues and still manage to make the gig work for everyone in the room. The only rock bands that have made it work to varying degrees are U2 and The Rolling Stones. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Combining elements from the aforementioned bands as well as a little bit of Sigur Ros and Radiohead chucked in, Coldplay have made the Viva La Vida tour a spectacle without going overboard. It was bright, colourful and enjoyable even if you are not a fan. One particularly great touch was a third (!) stage set up, literally, in the crowd that all four members retreated to for a three song acoustic set.
I was also impressed with the band’s willingness to mess with their songs a bit. When the four of them set up on the B stage they played two songs, crammed together with the drummer playing a drum machine. It gave the songs, God Put A Smile Upon Your Face and Talk, a totally different feel to their recorded versions. Even the awful The Hardest Part was rescued from complete inconsequentiality (< — new word?) by a simple solo piano performance by Chris Martin.
I’m not going to go on about the gig too much but I was surprised at how well some of the newer material comes across live (for the record I’ve only heard Viva la Vida a couple times). When the band dropped In My Place, Clocks, and Yellow within the first five songs I thought for sure they had painted themselves into a corner. But the new stuff is made to be screamed by ten thousand fans in arenas and the set never lost the momentum it picked up right from the, I shit you not, professional dancer who got the crowd hyped immediately before the band took the stage.
The last time I saw Coldplay was with my sister in an arena in Vancouver toward the end of the tour for A Rush Of Blood To The Head. I was bored the entire gig. The band simply could not connect with the crowd in such a large space. Coldplay are not that band anymore. In fact, U2 had better be firing on all cylinders on the U2360 tour or the torch will have officially been passed.
Life In Technicolour
In My Place
Glass of Water
Cemeteries of London
God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
The Hardest Part
Postcard from Far Away
Viva la Vida
Speed of Sound (C-stage acoustic)
Green Eyes (C-stage acoustic)
I’m a Believer (C-stage acoustic)
(Viva la Vida remix over PA)
Lovers in Japan
Death and All His Friends
Fruit Salad (Wiggles cover)
Life In Technicolour II
Alright, now for the band I was excited to see, Mercury Rev. First of all, 45 minutes is never enough for a band you love but I knew that going in so I braced myself for a short set full of the more accessible songs from the band’s catalogue. I was pretty surprised then when the band opened up with a ten minute version of Snowflake In A Hot World from last year’s (disappointing) Snowflake Midnight. It was a big ask from the Coldplay crowd (who seemed pretty unimpressed with the set) but I loved it.
The set continued with as close to hits as this band have ever gotten. Holes was gorgeous as was Goddess on a Hiway which immediately followed. The band closed with The Dark Is Rising and when the final note hit it sounded like a bomb had gone off. Crazy stuff. Way too short? Yes. But I hadn’t seen Mercury Rev since Glastonbury 2002 so I was stoked to see them at all.
Snowflake In a Hot World
People Are So Unpredictable
Goddess On A Hiway
The Dark Is Rising
Alright…time for a little gig break. M83 up next in a few weeks.