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Coldplay, Brixton Academy, London

Singing does power of good for predictable Martin

As soon as they begin their show, we know that everything we had expected of a Coldplay gig, we are going to get. It's this predictability that has made Coldplay at once so loved by the masses and so rejected by everyone else who errs from the mainstream.

By Coldplay's standards, this is a tiny gig – so accustomed to the arenas and even stadiums are the fourpiece. Tickets for this show were won by fans on the band's website and in a piece of promotion, broadcast live on Radio 1, Martin makes sure we recognise just how generous he and the band have been, with self-congratulatory jokes throughout – "no refunds".

Coldplay may have helped guitar music into the charts in 2000, but their instant commercial success spawned the onslaught of bands Keane, Athlete and Embrace, simulating their brand of inoffensive indie rock, thus steering British rock straight down the middle of the road.

While their answer to Radiohead's earlier indie-rock was to remove their interesting sharp turns in direction and the disarming quality of Thom Yorke's angst-ridden vocals and lyrics, Coldplay have nailed a formula for the heart-tugging epic anthem of the masses.

It's early days for the new music, as seen by the crowd's varying reactions. "Violet Hill" is a success tonight, and one to join their line of hits which include "Clocks", whose emotive piano chords and Martin's falsetto has the crowd erupting.

"When you think you're going to lose, just sing this song," Martin says earnestly "singing can do the power of good," he says, introducing the title song of their new album "Vida La Vida". It's just one of the many moments in the gig that turns the crowd into a hug-athon.

"Trouble" is disappointingly dirge-like. But new song "Lost!", its organ chords of epic proportion, actually creates a ripple of emotion.

For the first encore they disappear up to the balcony to play a couple of acoustic songs, brilliant for the portion of fans at front left of the stage, perplexing for the rest of us following the spotlight. The effect, half comedic, especially with one well-timed heckle "Go on Chris, jump!" and emotive at the same time, as they played their first hit "Yellow". Martin unveils a new acoustic country song sung by drummer Will Champion, adding variety to their set.

"Fix You" is flawlessly performed, and is the best example of the band's ability to manipulate the strings of their audience's heart. This they follow up with the solid new track "Lovers in Japan" as colourful confetti butterflies start showering the crowd. It's a tasteful way to end the night and shows that Coldplay continue to do what they do predictably brilliantly.