Coldplay, Royal Albert Hall, review: Chris Martin can't mask band's limitations

3.00

A good night for the vast majority of uber fans, but not this one

I have a confession: I used to be one of them. I used to be a Coldplay fan.

It’s a confession because I know what it’s like to be judged mercilessly over such uncool and middle-of-the-road music taste. Admitting I’m a U2 fan - yes - often generates revulsion and incredulity. But a sigh of pity seems to be the most common reaction to any statement of support for Chris Martin’s music.

I don’t just mean I was a casual listener. I still remember the sense of anticipation at holding Parachutes in my hand after walking to Enfield’s HMV (RIP) on a wet evening after school to buy the album.

I spent plenty of money going to see the band live at Earls Court and Crystal Palace, and if I delve into my iTunes I’ll find a collection of too many old Coldplay B-sides to mention. Back as a teenager - in the dark days of 2000, after Britpop but before The Libertines - their music spoke to me like little else.

And then, quite suddenly after a few years of devotion, I fell out of love with them. Was it that horribly out-of-tune vocal at the beginning of "Fix You" that made me snap out of it? Or  maybe, when singing along to Coldplay lyrics, I realised they are either meaningless or just too plain. Perhaps it was simply my musical horizons widening as I listened to the Bowie back catalogue and dynamic new bands like Arcade Fire. Anyway, I moved on.

I write all this because there’s no point pretending we - Coldplay and I, the lapsed fan - don’t have history as I head to the Royal Albert Hall to watch them again, after all these years. I’m no impartial critic. But if love of a band feels personal, so too does a fandom break-up. And I really do want to relive the good times we had.

Here, I must fully concede that it’s a good night for the vast majority of uber fans at this gig. They scream when the band comes on stage and look ecstatic even when Coldplay open with the ponderous "Always In My Head". The floor shakes as they jump up and down to that Paralympics theme tune - you know the one - and the other very generic-sounding newer songs. They sway, they wave their mobiles in the air, as "The Scientist" begins. They would give this gig five stars. My my, it would be nice to be able to enjoy this band like them again.

Instead, I feel like a former church member who has somehow wandered into a happy-clappy mass years after discovering the cynical joys of atheism.

Are the people around me brainwashed? No. Some of their joys are familiar. Chris Martin is engaging as ever, whirling around the intimate ‘in the round’ stage sited below streams of light-up stars. When the rockier songs come along, drummer Will Champion bashes his instruments as hard and loud as any heavy metal man with sticks. The innovation of a laser harp played by bassist Guy Berryman is intriguing. And when I tap my hand along to "Everything’s Not Lost", the title feels symbolic.

But one moment stands out. When the piano riff to "Clocks" begins, for a moment I almost feel a shiver go down my spine like years ago - until I remember the instrumental cover version I had to listen to for ages while on hold on the phone to a gas company last week. For the few tracks on show tonight that have songwriting substance, like "Clocks", that substance feels past its sell-by date.

I wanted to be won over again. It was nice while it lasted, but it wasn't to be.

Arts and Entertainment
Emo rockers Fall Out Boy

music

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment

film

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

    The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

    They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
    A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

    Dropout generation failed by colleges

    £800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
    Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
    Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

    Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

    Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
    Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

    Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch