Coldplay, Alan Partridge, Rob Brydon, Tinie Tempah and Emeli Sandé

The O2, London, December 10th

Andy Willsher/NME
Pic: Andy Willsher/NME
Chris Martin tells Alan Partridge to fuck off. Rob Brydon fronts Coldplay, singing ‘White Christmas’ in the voice of Tom Jones. And, at several points, everybody’s wrists light up in rainbow neon colours and make The O2 look like The Flaming Lips have just exploded in Block A3.

The inaugural Under One Roof O2 charity gig is a dizzying mass of awe and oddity. And then there’s Emeli Sandé, but the less said about her microscopic twist of mainstream R&B in the direction of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ the better. Rob Brydon’s decades-old routine of Welsh stereotypes and hackneyed impressions doesn’t feel much fresher. Tinie Tempah fares better, prowling Coldplay’s ego ramp, sparkly mike to the fore. His ecstatically received mash of dubstep, rap, hard rock, Pendulum-rave and boyband pop is the ultimate product of Generation Spotify and he milks it rather marvellously, doing That Crouch Down Then Jump Up Thing to ‘Pass Out’.

Alan Partridge, in white snow-flash Puffa jacket and casual nylon-based strides, falls painfully flat, slagging east London (“if you want to know what it was like 1,000 years ago, go there now”) and Coldplay (“they’re like Keane, but more extreme”) and only capturing his Nissans-in-Norfolk counter-counter-cultural genius with an observation that David Cameron’s Big Society worked at its best when his entire village united to chase away gypsies with baseball bats.

If Coldplay are finally surrendering all credibility to the pull of the mainstream – witness THAT X Factor appearance the following day – they’re intent on doing it with pizzazz. On a stage of crazed neon graffiti to reflect the futuristic We Will Rock You plot of their ‘Mylo Xyloto’ concept album, they pile cannon-loads of butterfly confetti upon hordes of bouncing balloons upon blasts of glo-wristband spangle to concoct a show that rivals Muse for future-flash innovation and spectacle. And amid the Day-Glo dazzle they play their little hearts out: ‘The Scientist’, ‘Up In Flames’ and ‘Fix You' tear at the Tinie-est of hearts and ‘Hurts Like Heaven’, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ and ‘Paradise’ become roar-along neon-pop firestorms.

Partridge returns to interrupt the downbeat Christmas ballad ‘Christmas Lights’ claiming it’s “a bit too ‘mopey Joe’” and leads a duet with Chris on ‘Little Drummer Boy’ (“a song about a little boy hitting a drum for a virgin”) via an ‘impromptu interview’ that’s basically a set-up for Alan to goad Chris into a surprise expletive. And it’s not, by far, the only time we’re left wide-eyed and breath-taken tonight. A-ho-ho-ho…

Mark Beaumont

This article originally appeared in the January 7th issue of NME

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