Rock's reigning regents pack their coronation ceremony with new national anthems
The polling booths have barely opened, but the result of the General Election Of Rock 2005 is already decided. And already, in the Coldplay camp the tickertape cannons are primed for victory. Pre-sales for X&Y’ that make ‘Be Here Now’ look like an unannounced Limp Bizkit acoustic EP. Swathes of critical frothing declaring them the best band since sliced U2. Queues around the block for this tiny Radio 1 gig from 4pm the previous afternoon. Rock’s swingometer is, frankly, off the scale.
So as the Close Encounters space ‘whaarmp’s of ‘Square One’ throb out and Chris Martin bounces through the floodlights like the alien that hopped down the ramp in box-fresh Adidas, there’s a tangible air of triumph; of backlashes dodged and paranoia allayed. In the 48 hours since ‘X&Y’ prematurely hit the internet, it has unravelled its slow-burning wonders and announced the coming of age of one of the most grandiose, shiversome and brilliant bands for generations. So, uniformed in black outfits and white trainers like four Sith lords on dress-down Friday, Coldplay make tonight a victory march on the palaces of cultural hegemony – as ‘Politik’ begins its violent futuristic goose-step stomp you imagine Oasis trembling in a bunker somewhere beneath the Number One slot, sensing that their empire has crumbled and handing out the cyanide capsules.
And you know the Coldplay Republic will rule longer than a dozen Pope John Paul IIs because they’ve reached the U2 Super League utterly unencumbered with pretence. There are no fly shades or phone calls to Nelson Mandela, no Thom Yorke political obscurisms, no Liam sneering; no gimmicks, no flash and flam, just simple, beautiful wail-along songs fired direct from Chris Martin’s heart to yours. And, bar ‘Trouble’, they do them all tonight. The searing torch laments of ‘Everything’s Not Lost’ and ‘The Scientist’; the chiming enormo-pop of ‘Speed Of Sound’, ‘In My Place’ and ‘White Shadows’ which make Chris do his hop-on-the-spot-while-reaching-for-an-invisible-cake-in-the-sky dance; a stripped-down segment for ‘’Til Kingdom Come’ and ‘Don’t Panic!’ . And if at 9.30pm you heard a cheer like England won the World Cup or Justin Hawkins just fell off a bridge, that was ‘Yellow’.
The revelations, though, come sprinkled from ‘X&Y’. The Ode To Unrealistic Pessimism that is ‘What If?’ , the sprawling alien soundscape of ‘Square One’ and particularly the roof-lifting choir of heartbroken seraphim that close the stupendous ‘Fix You’ point to a band with the potential, the will and unit-shifting clobber to gradually recraft the mould that Radiohead broke with ‘Kid A’. If ‘Parachutes’ was Coldplay taxiing modestly to the runway and ‘A Rush Of Blood…’ was the thrust of engine throttle, ‘X&Y’ is their magnificent coast at 35,000ft – a band at the very peak of their powers with only a stratospheric unknown above them. A landslide, then, and the right guys won.