Milwaukee Show Review

Originally posted on March 13, 2003 11:45 PM

Coldplay's "A Rush of Blood to the Head" was surely the most artful pop-rock album of last year.

Judging from the packed and adoring house Wednesday night at the Eagles Ballroom at the Rave, "A Rush of Blood to the Head" has rightfully catapulted Coldplay into a very hot commodity. Oasis may have finally sunk beneath the waves of its multiple pathologies, but Coldplay appears more than primed to step into the gap.

The virtues that defined "Rush of Blood" on disc - soaring melodies, chiming guitars, deft song craft and emotionally charged singing - carry over abundantly to Coldplay's live show.

But there is much more.

Early in the show, frontman Chris Martin made a passing joke about "reserved and boring Englishmen." If that stereotype is true, Martin is clearly of a mutant strain of Brit. Any parent concerned about the future of a hyperactive child need only to look to Martin for hope. Someday all that excess energy may fuel a rock star. On stage, Martin is frantic almost to the point of comedy: spinning, leaping, jabbing, bobbing, weaving. . . . You have the sense you could lose five pounds just watching him for two hours.

Although hardly overproduced, the Coldplay stage show is intelligently and effectively staged. Further enhancing the show was an exceptional light show that actually served to illustrate the music. On "Daylight," the stage was bathed in emerald light and then turned an orange glow when the lyric evoked the power of sunlight. For a portion of the show, the four players were all projected in black and white on separate screens, a stark effect that heightened the moody beauty of songs like "Clocks" and "In My Place."

Of course, if the songs weren't compelling, the stagecraft would be mere empty glitter. Fortunately, the songs are stellar and they draw from a varied emotional palette. "A Rush of Blood to the Head" is a fantasy of vengeance served cold. Premeditated musical violence. On the other end of the spectrum, "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" balances divine blessings and curses with a spiritual verve reminiscent of U2.


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