Cardiff University Great Hall

It seems almost pointless protesting...

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, indie's Mr Effusive, on the defensive? Surely not. But he introduces 'High Speed', Coldplay's third song tonight for this One Live broadcast gig, with a thoughtful, "This is dedicated to everyone who bought our record, even though everyone's been slagging us off and that." Cue mass cheers of solidarity.

Not that you could hear any dissenting voices in the Great Hall

tonight. Coldplay's unassuming entrance is greeted with a reaction one would normally imagine to signal, say, a resolution to world war, or a Jimi Hendrix comeback gig. The fact that Chris Martin and band don't themselves appear to know why Coldplay are so demographic-mashingly adored doesn't hide the faint absurdity of the situation. Still, the opening 'Spies' is a pretty good tune: darkly folk-styled lamentations that most readily justify any Jeff Buckley comparisons.

However, between this and the splendid 'Everything's Not Lost', the final song before the encore, there's a lot of stuff that, were it not for the rapturous reception awarded it, would seem mere treading water. Frankly, any genius streak running through 'Sparks', bullied acoustic dithering that wants to be shoegazing when it grows up, is lost on us.

Sure, 'Yellow' is the very definition of a solidly good song, one which is probably being selected for young couples' wedding

receptions as you read this. While one brand new encore song is a

less dissonant take on 'Bends'-era Radiohead, and fills that brief well enough to defy actual criticism.

But that still doesn't explain the doe-eyed madness afflicting the

1,400 people here. Chris plays a brief harmonica solo during 'Don't Panic'; the crowd spontaneously combust. Your immediate reflex is to yell, "It's a fucking mouth-organ, you idiots!" Later, he throws his towel and jumper into the crowd. They go predictably insane.

Coldplay are a band cliched hacks would dub 'slow-burning', yet here we find a light which remains wilfully dim. While these stars shine so dazzlingly for half the country, though, it seems almost pointless protesting.

Noel Gardner

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