Coldplay : New York Bowery Ballroom

Coldplay are taking on the world, quietly but oh-so-surely, together...

If Coldplay‘s ascent to fame seems impressive so far, the latest chapter in their story is positively a fairy tale. After moving grown men to tears at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, the London-based four piece are now proving old habits don’t have to die hard. While Travis toiled, Blur failed and Oasis nearly destroyed themselves trying, Coldplay have charmed their way into the hearts of America with the same disarming vulnerability and buoyant determination that propelled them from Camden Monarch to the Gareth Gates-challenging bona fide pop stars they are today.

Next month, they play a 15,000 capacity arena here in New York but tonight is a warm-up club date for just 600 – and Gwyneth Paltrow – to get people talking again. By the time the final bars of the mighty apocalyptic set (and album) opener ‘Politik’ swirl away to nothing, they’re doing less chattering, more gaping. The band’s new material, from forthcoming album ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’, simply takes your breath away. It’s everything we have always loved about Coldplay, but without the trace of self-doubt and shadow of inexperience that characterised a band just out of college. Since debut album ‘Parachutes’ was penned, frontman Chris Martin has – like it or not and whatever he says, he invariably loves it – become a celebrity. Thankfully that’s only bolstered his confidence in his own feelings and ability and ensured he no longer feels the need to apologise for who he is. Tonight’s stunning stand-out track, the plaintive, regretful ‘The Scientist’, is typical, laying his soul bare without flinching. ‘God Put A Smile On Your Face’ is its antithesis, a defiant, rousing call to arms that has Chris hopping on the spot, stamping his foot and jerking his head, while the moody, incessant throb of ‘Daylight’ is perfect film soundtrack material. Even the covers squeezed into the bonus second encore – Oasis‘ ‘Songbird’ and Echo & the Bunnymen‘s ‘Lips Like Sugar’ – somehow put the originals to shame.

But that’s only half the (success) story. Each time you’re hypnotised by Coldplay, the spell is shattered as soon as Chris opens his mouth – and it’s this that makes them so damn endearing to the New Yorkers here. He thanks everyone continually; dedicates one track to “anybody who’s been in a car accident recently” in a nod to audience member Noel Gallagher; manages a jibe about American football talent in the lyrics of ‘Everything’s Not Lost’ (only to apologise profusely afterwards, of course) and sings a few lines from Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘Hungry Heart’ for “those of you who couldn’t get tickets” to The Boss‘s gig across town.

While he may have all the good lines, don’t think this is all just about Chris. The Bowery’s close confines highlight how far the others have come too. For a start, Coldplay now really look like a band. From guitarist Jonny Buckland’s scruffy tranquility as he closes his eyes to sing backing vocals to bassist Guy Berryman’s intent aloofness, it’s finally obvious that like every truly great band, this would not work without all four members. In what must be this year’s ultimate happy ever after, Coldplay are taking on the world, quietly but oh-so-surely, together. And nothing can stop them now.

Siobhan Grogan