Jonny Buckland and Chris Martin
Credit: Katie Hasty
CHICAGO – Chris Martin’s signature bounce is adjusting to a whole new setlist, if Coldplay’s show last night is a testament.
The British band made a live concert return to the U.S. headlining Lollapalooza day one (Aug. 5), and brought a graffiti-spattered pocketful of fresh tracks, many of which made their American debut.
Leaving their rustic French Revolution “Viva La Vida” days behind, the four-piece band opted instead for a slicker and, at times, more colorful stage show. Frontman Chris Martin acoustic guitar had scratches and characters etched into it’s slate façade, like a blackboard, while guitarist Jonny Buckland’s electric axe was tagged by colorful marker all over the body. The organ and piano were painted up with various geometric designs, a reflection of the multi-colored laser light pattern that shot out from the back of the stage whenever the band performed a new song. Otherwise, it was all basic and bold colors that shone in monochrome on the stage, like a bath of spray paint. The giant, high-flying balloons in the audience still abounded.
It’s right in line with what the band has said was the inspiration for their new, forthcoming album, which will likely include the single (and show-closer) “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall.” That track’s music video
brandishes one of the biggest nods, to American graffiti and street art. And while this pop-rock band may have little urban influence about it, they nonetheless have made some new tracks that reflect the rainbow.
“Concrete canvas, I'll go making my mark / Armed with a spray can soul,” Martin sings on “Hurts Like Heaven” -- as opposed to Hell -- which opened the show and thus made its American debut. It’d been performed only a couple times before live, starting in May this year, but this banger took to the audience quite well, the front row already drenched as much as Martin. (He took the sweat straight into “Yellow,” the band’s very first smash hit; the stage and video screens in the back were awash in, you guessed it, yellow.)
Another painterly suggestion arrives at the end of fresh “Charlie Brown,” Martin explaining, “We’ll be glowing in the dark.” This song also has only made a handful of appearances (listen
) since the band took to festivals in May, but it certainly lifted the midsection of a slower setlist. This big, four-on-the-floor pop track gives way to a dance-rock bridge section and gang vocals; Martin’s verse melody reminded me of Bruce Springsteen’s “I'm Goin' Down
,” and may even be tipping its hat with the line “Took a car downtown where the lost boys meet.”
Coldplay are adept at both this arena-filling sound, and at the softer, sensitive sonics that help tracks like faux-blues song “Trouble” or megahit “The Scientist,” or transitioning “Lost!” to its crippled brother “Lost?” That’s how new “Us Against the World” can be categorized, its sad, solo trek of desperation peaking with the occasional help of harmony vocals on the chorus, “Slooooow it down.” The audience obliged the request.
And the sun-soaked attendees were also only a little mixed on Martin’s unexpected tribute, a somber take on the chorus of Amy Winehouse
’s “Rehab,” which appropriately segued into “Fix You,” each song touching on those individual songwriters’ fascination with addiction (of all sorts). The now-deceased singer’s voice would have popped right over that cordial funeral organ sound, but Martin merely made his point and soberly moved on.
“Clocks” kicked off Coldplay’s one and only encore, and roof-blasting “Waterfall” capped it. All the other smash hits were demolished adeptly, particularly on personal favorite “Shiver,” played in the pocket from note one. “This was the first song we ever played in America,” Martin said, preceding it.
“Violet Hill” always sticks out to me, with its Survivor-like Classic Rock underpinnings, and the extended version of “Everything’s Not Lost” had me checking my voicemails and eyeing the bathroom. But with a hit-parade like Coldplay’s, these moments didn’t last for long. The crowd was thrown the lead mic on “Viva La Vida,” or Martin would spontaneously take a knee or lay on the ground like a pool, keeping all guess what he’d pop up to offer next.
Coldplay’s fifth full-length album is expected to arrive later in 2011. The band has three other scheduled U.S. tour dates, all in September.
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