Coldplay, 02 Arena, London (2/5)
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 12 December 2011
The Kraftwerk allusions, the Brian Eno productions, the “experimental” new directions: the propaganda which comes with each new Coldplay album would make you think they were a major rock band.
But as they break in their fifth, Mylo Xyloto, at the O2 Arena in front of 20,000 excited, adoring fans, it becomes obvious this is a category error. Chris Martin writes songs which Take That would kill for. The self-revelation and transformation of listeners some still expect of rock music never happens. Coldplay are the lightest entertainment.
They are honest workers, though, and try so athletically hard. As “Hurts Like Heaven” opens the show, wristbands handed out with tickets glow in green, white and red, making the crowd look like Christmas lights. Two songs later, giant balloons drop from the roof, kicked open by singer Chris Martin to reveal confetti crosses. Two songs after that, they wheel out the confetti-cannons. Special effects are reinforced by physical ones. Martin makes regular running leaps down a gangway, looking posed for action photos in mid-air. But amidst this huffing and puffing, no excitement is actually coming off the stage. When Jonny Buckland and Martin circle each other on springy feet, they are equally ungainly and uncharismatic. Buckland’s lead guitar borrows U2’s sound, but does nothing with it.
Beneath the show’s eager to please bluster, what strikes me with increasing force is the repetition and weakness of Martin’s songs. From the solipsism of their first inescapable hit, “Yellow”, where the stars themselves “shine for you”, there is no lyric of mature realisation. Every song is other-directed, constructed for mass, mild elevation. Not a word suggests a real emotion of Martin’s as if, locked in a celebrity bubble early, he can’t locate them, and stopped learning long ago. “I will wait for you,” he sings on “In My Place”, straight from a Hollywood movie. “Nobody said it was easy,” he adds on “The Scientist”. Nobody except Coldplay.
“Paradise” has their most inanely catchy chorus yet (“para-para-dise...”), and is a study of a woman who as a young girl believed in heaven, and, naturally, regains her dreams. But in Coldplay songs we’re always in heaven, where no suffering lasts. All they lack is the grit that makes artistic pearls. The crowd leave happy, because Coldplay have helped lower our expectations of pop. It’s got to be better than this.
filmIn Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer: What we know about JJ Abrams' film
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'