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Just last June they were dragging their arses round the toilet circuit, supporting the woeful Terris (where are they now?) and routinely blowing them off the stage. One smash hit and Mercury-nominated album later, and now everyone wants to pretend they’ve been into Coldplay since their debut, ‘Brothers and Sisters’. The speed with which fame has caught up with them seems to have overwhelmed frontman Chris Martin, who seems to be as genuinely chuffed to be here, playing to the vast mixed crowd at De Montfort Uni tonight, as we are to see them.
Before Coldplay, though, are Lowgold. The music press have been salivating over this lot for some time, but even they are not immune to making serious critical blunders (hello again, Terris). Musically, they’re Travis mixed with Doves, but without the fragile melancholy, a devastating falsetto, or a way with a good tune; that is to say, incredibly, trad-ly dull. ‘Beauty Dies Young’ is pretty enough, however, so all is not lost.
Coldplay arrive to a rapturous reception and immediately launch into ‘Spies’, the spookiest song on ‘Parachutes’. Just before that, Chris Martin announces that they’re ‘in a good mood tonight’. You probably wouldn’t catch Thom Yorke saying that.
And therein lies the rub. Chris’ stage persona jars with the intensely desolate songs; his willingness to rabbit cheerfully to the audience almost takes some of the mystique away from the band – as he says tonight, “I’m just an ordinary guy”. But the overwhelming enthusiasm they bring is infectious; and soon everyone is grinning, even through ‘Trouble’. The songs are delivered virtually note perfect from the album. But you don’t go to a Coldplay gig to see radical sonic innovation: you go to see beautiful, timeless tunes expertly delivered with passion. And you can see that Chris means it, man, as he croons, eyes closed throughout a devotional ‘Sparks’. ‘Yellow’, ‘Our Tune’ for the many indie couples here tonight, is launched into as if they were retiring tomorrow; showing little sign of becoming the albatross that ‘Creep’ is for Radiohead. Talking of the ‘R’ word, however much the band protest that they sound nothing like them, a new song played tonight is ‘OK Computer’-era vintage. That is to say, nothing like them any more.
After a huge, singalong ‘Everything’s Not Lost’, during which Chris drops to his knees Al Green style, and a short, sweet encore, they sadly depart for good, after just an hour. For the few hangers-on afterwards, Will the drummer happily signs everything that’s handed his way, bewildered that people want his autograph. Proof that not all nice guys finish last.
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