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Coldplay scorches with polished blowout

As you can see, Coldplay really went drab on the stage production. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

As you can see, Coldplay really went drab on the stage production. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

Coldplay just might be the hardest-working live band of the past decade – at least of the arena variety.

 They want you to have fun, to sink into their often-elegant pop-rock and feel the emotion seeping out of Chris Martin’s furrowed brow.

 They want you to cheer with delight at the showers of confetti whooshed in the air and nod approvingly at their neon-graffiti stage backdrop, thinking, “Huh, that actually looks really awesome.”

 They hope you walk out of the venue thinking they’re fine musicians, but also casually cool guys, the type you’d want to have a drink with to discuss politics or movies or baby names.

 And guess what? They succeed at every attempt.

You can see the emotion oozing out of Chris Martin. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

You can see the emotion oozing out of Chris Martin. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

 It hasn’t been quite a year since Coldplay last played Atlanta, headlining the return of Music Midtown in Piedmont Park last fall and performing for about 40,000 people. But Monday’s gig at Philips Arena was a SRO sellout, so clearly there is demand for the music of Martin, Jonny Buckland (guitar), Will Champion (drummer-plus-piano-plus-guitar) and Guy Berryman (bass).

 This tour behind “Mylo Xyloto” launched last fall overseas, played a few U.S. dates in April, then returned here about two weeks ago.

 Some of the two-hour show was precise and choreographed, such as the parts with the inventive light-up bracelets handed out to fans as they entered the arena. But even the scripted parts felt natural.

 Most bands wait until the end of a show to wow the audience with interactive effects, but not Coldplay.

 As soon as the quartet kicked off the concert with “Hurts Like Heaven,” the multi-colored bracelets flickered like stained-glass windows come to life, creating an awe-inspiring glow.

 Immediately after “Heaven,” Martin folded his lanky frame over the keyboard of his upright piano for “In My Place” and within seconds, giant blowers sent thousands of pieces of confetti in the font of the letters from “Mylo Xyloto” into the air.

 Martin, in all his springy goofiness, pogo-ed down the catwalk extending from the stage, grinning like a schoolboy on summer break under the falling paper.

 The band might have brought an arsenal of toys, but the music never felt secondary to the visual distractions.

 Coldplay is a band like U2 is a band. Take away one member and the magic is gone. But there is also a de facto leader and Martin, while not as dynamic as Bono, handles the role with quiet charm and grace.

“Thank you for going through all of the crap you have to go through to come to a concert,” he told the crowd early in the show.

 Their reward was watching him spar with Buckland like a matador and bull on the rougher-edged “Major Minus” and hear Martin’s lovely swoop of a voice hit all the right notes in “The Scientist.”

 Coldplay’s best songs fit the “memorable” category because they’re so melodic, they ache (talking about you, “Lovers in Japan”).

Chris Martin and Coldplay work hard for your money. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

Chris Martin and Coldplay work hard for your money. Photo credit: Robb D. Cohen/ www.RobbsPhotos.com

 A few times during the show, the band stripped to those essentials, gathering at the end of the catwalk for a four-song set including “Princess of China” (Rihanna appeared via video) and “Warning Signs.” Later in the show, Martin and his guitar crammed into a tiny loge section in the back of the arena to croon “Us Against the World,” during which he was joined, one by one, by his mates, with Champion providing some honeyed harmonies.

 When the singer was handed a cowboy hat, he plopped it on his head, grinned and said with his usual self-deprecation, “Is this a Jon Bon Jovi hat? I can’t pull it off.”

 Those quiet times will be highlights for some, but it’s hard to discount the swell of joy in the venue as the crowd heartily sang the “whoa-oh-oh”’s of the majestic “Viva La Vida”; the riveting swirls of red lights that perfectly accompanied Champion’s throbbing backbeat and the tense piano that frame “Clocks”; and the gorgeous, church-like “Fix You,” which Martin intro’d with a few lines of “Georgia on My Mind.”

 What’s most impressive about Coldplay is that the band doesn’t make presenting an entertaining, captivating live show look easy, because it isn’t. Martin’s shirt was soaked with sweat after the first 15 minutes and his mock exhaustion collapse at the end of “Viva” probably contained a hint of reality.

 Over the years, their live shows have escalated from standard stand-on-stage-and-sing presentations to this, a polished, yet authentic, blowout.

 When can we expect the stadium dates?

 

(Check out more photos from last night’s show.)

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

19 comments Add your comment

Melissa Black

July 3rd, 2012
7:51 am

This concert was EPIC!!!! I never sat down th entire time. They bring you right into the show with them and leg you fully experience their music. I will never forget this concert.

Carlos

July 3rd, 2012
7:59 am

Amazing concert! I believe they have overtaking U2 as the best band in the planet…

Carlos

July 3rd, 2012
8:02 am

Overtaken…

Mike

July 3rd, 2012
8:44 am

Great show! And I loved Robyn as their opener. She’s got spunk, that’s for sure.

Jack

July 3rd, 2012
9:01 am

I’ve seen a few concerts including U2 several times. This show was the best acoustical performance and visual show I have ever seen! Coldplay was incredible this time around.

Ellie Diaz

July 3rd, 2012
9:44 am

I’m still shaking – BEST CONCERT EVER!

Pete E. Tong

July 3rd, 2012
10:22 am

You know how I know you’re gay? You listen to Coldplay.

Pot Pie

July 3rd, 2012
10:35 am

What is wrong with being gay?

Melissa Ruggieri

July 3rd, 2012
10:42 am

Pot Pie – He’s quoting a famous line from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” It was a joking exchange between the characters played by Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen.

Pete E. Tong

July 3rd, 2012
11:41 am

Except I didn’t mean it as a joke. If you listen to Coldplay, you are, in fact, a raging homosexual.

porterfieldgchord

July 3rd, 2012
11:57 am

It was my 12 year-old daughter’s first big “rock” concert – and it was amazing. I have been to a lot of shows and had no expectations going into this concert – Coldplay delivered and made me a fan of them as a live act. Only suggestion would have been to cut one of the opening acts – one was more than enough.

229Bravesfan

July 3rd, 2012
1:20 pm

This was my first real BIG concert and it was amazing. I been a Coldplay fan for a long time and seen them on tv but there is nothing like seeing them in concert. Last night was most definitely one the best nights of my life so far.

Azlady627

July 3rd, 2012
1:59 pm

This was my 3rd overall, and 2nd, concert this year. They are amazing live and I was hooked from the first song performed live a couple years ago. Will never one of their concerts – and I had to travel to CA & FL to see them this year as AZ was not on their tour this year :-( Been a fan for over 10 years too!

Praveen

July 3rd, 2012
2:23 pm

I dont know how anyone can compare Coldplay to U2. U2 had different types of music depending on the decade they sang in. Sure, their last two decades was a little too polished and songs like Beautiful Day may sound Colplayish, but I don’t think I could sit through an entire Coldplay concert. I wouldnt mind if they were part of a Music Midtown format(the old real Music Midtown with many bands, not the recent ones).

Angela

July 3rd, 2012
6:15 pm

My first time seeing Coldplay live and I was entertained; blown away by the music, the bands grace and energy! I’m forever going to their concerts- their love for their fans is evident!! Best concert I’ve ever attended<3

Jon

July 3rd, 2012
8:28 pm

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in Atlanta over the years and this was one of the best ever, easily top 3 for me.

Veronique

July 4th, 2012
4:27 am

Move over U2, Coldplay is clearly the biggest band right now. I didn’t sit once and the 90 minutes felt like 30 seconds. I hope they come back to ATL soon.
The band has very fond memory of ATL. Back in 2001 when they were touring in the US for the 1st time, they got abused by metal heads throwing things at them on stage at these radio events they were part of. They nearly packed their bags and went home, but their manager at the time encouraged them to honor their gig at The Tabernacle. The reception they got here made them feel so much better and gave them the courage to tour more in the US. Look at them now!

Tom Clement

July 5th, 2012
2:18 pm

That is my wife’s cowboy hat that the article is talking about! She said before we left the house Chris Martin is going to wear this hat! How insane is that? What an awesome night!

VoiceOfReason

July 5th, 2012
7:30 pm

Yes best show I’ve seen ever. Second best show was earlier this year. The Foo Fighters four hour smash fest. Great year for ATL shows.