Another White River Amphitheater Review

Originally posted on August 19, 2005 8:52 AM

Coldplay has given the haters plenty of fodder by now.

For starters, the British quartet has sold 18.5 million copies of its Splenda-sweet albums while edgier hipster favorites are stuck in relative obscurity. The band not only blatantly ripped off U2, circa "The Unforgettable Fire," for the its third album, "X&Y," but also had the audacity to declare its intentions to be the next U2.

And there's that Chris Martin guy, who seems just a little too nice to front the biggest rock band on the planet. I mean, is it too much to ask for him to slug a few paparazzi or trash some hotel rooms?

But even the staunchest haters would have been hard-pressed to pooh-pooh this year's "it" band Tuesday night as it delivered a fun, satisfying and hit-filled set to 16,000-plus appreciative fans at the White River Amphitheatre. The group showcased its ability to churn out hook-filled, feel-good pop by the album load. And sure, the U2-inspired stuff sounded a bit derivative next to older tunes. But, hey, even the Rolling Stones used Chuck Berry's style from time to time, right?

The set kicked off 15 minutes late to accommodate all of the fans still crawling along on Auburn-Enumclaw Road. (This critic missed the opening act Vancouver, B.C.'s Black Mountain despite leaving two hours before the show. And it took another two hours to escape the White River lot after the show.) Then the main attraction Martin, guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman emerged, all dressed in black and backlit by digital numbers on the curved video screen behind them as they kicked off with "Square One," the lead track from their new album.

From the start, the band added percussive punch to even the most ethereal numbers. And Martin delivered with the disarmingly carefree zest of a kid, whether he was skipping giddily across the stage, balancing awkwardly on one leg, grinding maniacally against his piano bench or racing through the crowd during the encore.

The band followed the opener by pounding out an intense delivery of "Politik." As he hunched over his piano, Martin thrilled the local crowd by changing one of the song's rhymes to "give me Seattle and the rain/Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain."

Then he properly addressed the crowd, referring to Coldplay's first local performance at a Seattle nightclub, The Showbox.

"This is for anybody who was there. This is the song that brought us here five years ago," he said, introducing the band's ultracatchy "Yellow."

Dozens of beach ball-sized yellow balloons wafted over the crowd midsong. "You can bust 'em," Martin instructed between lyrics. Several audience members complied, unleashing showers of bright confetti.

"God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and "Speed of Sound," the best track from the new album, followed. The screen prompted fans to snap their cameras in unison during "Low" for an effect that would have been neater had more fans come equipped.

The middle of the set also included "A Rush of Blood to the Head," "Everything's Not Lost," "White Shadows" and "The Scientist," that last song dedicated to the people in the cheap seats with added lyric, "The thing about Coldplay/That should make you happy/ Is that we're best when viewed from afar."

Then Martin took a moment to introduce his band mates, acknowledging that much of the rock press treats them as anonymous extras to Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow. "Everybody thinks it's just one person when it's four," he said. "And without each other we'd be lost."

The band segued right into a few bars of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" from an effective, subdued delivery of "Till Kingdom Come," the hidden track from "X&Y" and a song originally written for the late country great.

The band delivered "Don't Panic" and a soaring rendition of "Clocks" before taking a bow with "Talk."

The encore began on a melancholy note with "Swallowed in the Sea," followed by an invigorating delivery of "In My Place" during which Martin raced up to the top of the reserved seats to spend a moment with the people on White River's grassy berm. He passed within arm's reach of this critic, soaked with sweat and a huge grin on his face, as he headed back to the stage.

New single "Fix You" seemed a tad anticlimactic after that number. But overall it was a great show. And even if Coldplay is still a few notches short of reaching the legendary U2's status, the band proved it had carved out a respectable and sizable niche of its own.

Source: The News Tribune

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