On her third album, the former Nickelodeon star sheds the cute popstar image, adopting a message of empowerment that rings true
Carling Brixton Academy, London, (June 17)
Hence why it’s unfair to compare Coldplay to U2. For all their sins, Bono’s boys at their Brian Eno-produced peak really did strive for the transcendent. And yes, it got embarassing, but how much more weary is Coldplay’s tasteful restraint? Only a band with a comprehensive lack of scope, ideas or idiosyncracy could be produced by Eno and end up sounding so flat.
Sure, they can pen a great melody, but few get an airing tonight. There’s no ‘The Scientist’, surely the most lovely of their songs, and no drivetime-pleasant ‘Speed Of Sound’ or ‘Talk’ from the now-rejected ‘X&Y’ (though the mawkish ‘Fix You’ is present). Instead we’re left floundering in the doldrums of ‘Violet Hill’ and ‘Lovers In Japan’.
Their strongest songs are still the simplest ones, so it’s a shame when Martin blows ‘Yellow’, probably the sweetest tune he’ll ever write, on a novelty ‘acoustic interlude’ from the balcony that renders the song weak and a quarter of the audience unable to see him. The strongest of the new tracks are the sultry shuffle of ‘Lost!’ and the almost-but-not-quite-epic surge of ‘Viva La Vida’, but you’d still happily curtail them two-thirds of the way through. For all Martin’s impassioned, need-a-slash writhing, there’s no real connection in the choruses, no rush in the dynamics. Maybe it’s just our wizened heart, but the most thrilling point of the evening is the tricolour-butterfly confetti canon at the end.
Nevertheless, it’s difficult to work up any real anger: Coldplay commit no real sin, except omission. They’re just there; like concrete or cornflakes, part of the everyday fabric of mundanity rather than something to lift you above it. As Martin asks, on the monotonous ‘Clocks’, “am I a part of the cure, or a part of the disease?” the answer is emphatically clear in our minds.
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