It’s 16 years since the Avalanches’ era-defining ‘Since I Left You’. How can a follow-up that took so long sound so meh?
Pilton Playing Fields
History repeats itself.
a certainty, even if tonight's performance isn't without its, ahem, hitches.
For a start, only one of the band has turned up. Chris Martin comes on for his first solo show; the rest of Coldplay aren't here because guitarist Jon Buckland has been diagnosed with glandular fever.
"If you want me to stay I'll stay, if you want me to go, I'll fuck off," mutters a nervous Martin before an opening 'Shiver'. He needn't worry. Stripped to its bones, 'Shiver' gives him the chance to perform all kinds of tricks with his voice. He fills this cavernous tent with ease, sometimes singing falsetto where a guitar line should be, at other times just letting the ever-swelling crowd do the work for him. Two songs in, and his smile is as big as the reception he is getting. Martin has gone from being as rigid as a board to waltzing around the stage with his guitar within five minutes. Only 'Help Is Round The Corner' sounds like it belongs in a bus station, stripped naked, but for the most part Martin has everyone dancing in his palm and he knows it. 'Bigger Stronger' and 'Don't Panic' precede a lovely, piano-led 'Trouble' - the only thing missing tonight is an MTV film crew.
What Martin starts, Embrace finish with ease. Give or take the odd track, it's the same set they've been playing at festivals the whole summer. With nothing to lose and the party in full swing, Embrace knock out the hits. 'You're Not Alone' sees security playing volleyball with the first 50 rows, while the fragile but uplifting 'My Weakness Is None Of Your Business' and 'Save Me' sound tight and caustic.
So, in an ice-white marquee in the middle of a muddy field, history repeats itself. Coldplay's songs are full of surprise and reign supreme, while Embrace put out their sign reading 'business as usual'. Tonight, you wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
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