“Just play Yellow and then feck off!” heckled an obviously bored member of Coldplay’s audience at the ‘Bush Empire last night. Harsh, but was it fair? Chris Martin had already assured a baying crowd that they would be playing it later.
When I first witnessed Coldplay live it was before their meteoric rise. At the time, Martin announced to the select few that we were watching a band that were going to be huge. We didn’t doubt him for a second, such was the energy of his performance. What we hoped was that the other rather shy looking members of the band would learn to play their instruments without having to stare at them. We wanted them to hold their heads up, look at the audience and strut their stuff just like the lead singer.
However, as Martin’s performance has grown and developed, the other members have regressed into what seems to be nervous paralysis. They have now stopped staring at their instruments and instead, their eyes are fixed on their shoes throughout. Even the drummer sat with head bowed showing us only the top of his head. Surrounded by reluctant celebrities, who looked like they would prefer to be at home practicing or in the studio, it is obvious that Martin calls the shots and everyone likes it that way. Perhaps it is the lack of characters around Martin that caused tonight’s rather self-indulgent performance.
Tension and expectancy was high and Coldplay responded by opening nicely with Spies followed by a little hold-up due to technical problems, Martin’s keyboard seemingly as reluctant as the rest of the band to play. They elected instead to sing some rubbish about wanting a bigger (or was it faster?) car while the roadies coax the Joanna out of its shell in time for the next number. This turns out to be the soaring brilliance of Trouble. Each time Martin played his keyboard he practically disappeared from view, squatting behind it like Linus from Peanuts. Were the earlier problems related to the lack of legs on this instrument?
The set ambled on through tunes that would be familiar to those who have bought the album Parachutes, save for Animals, a new track that, with a much heavier intro and a beat provided by a drum machine, hints at something a little different. It does however fall back into the whimsical and promotes fears about Coldplay’s lack of real depth. Have we heard enough of these tunes already? Will we want to listen to any of this in a couple of years’ time? Hopefully tonight’s display merely suffered from mid-tour blues on a Sunday and they will recreate the energy that amassed their sell-out crowds. By the amount of bootleg merchandise on sale outside there is a large number of people hoping they will.
After a performance containing some considerable highs, such as when they finally got around to playing the superb Yellow, Coldplay elect to go out with a new song, Everything’s Not Lost. It’s more whimper than bang.