If you think the live album is a cash cow, then Coldplay are reluctant milk maids. Their last one came out nine years ago – an age for a working band that fills arenas from Berlin to Brisbane. Expectations have changed since Coldplay released ‘Live 2003’, so ‘Live 2012’ is of course a modern CD/DVD combo package: live album plus concert film.
And that concert film is most definitely a “concert film” – as opposed to a straightforward video of a live gig. Director Paul Dugdale cherry-picks performances from several dates on the band’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ tour, then mixes them with behind-the-scenes footage, technical chit-chat and interviews with the band. And yes, he does include the obligatory ‘popstar backstage in a golf buggy’ shot.
This approach has pros and cons: on the one hand, there’s no sense of momentum or the band ‘building’ a set list. But on the other, it actually offers a more rounded portrait of Coldplay as a live act. One minute they’re playing ‘Violet Hill’ at an intimate club gig in Paris; the next, they’re singing ‘Princess Of China’ with Rihanna at a football stadium.
Of course, the behind-the-scenes stuff is scandal-free – there are no little people carrying round silver platters of cocaine on their heads, though at one point Guy Berryman does make himself a coffee on a posh machine. And naturally, the band’s chat is pretty limited. They’re massively grateful to their fans; they just want to keep improving as a group; and before you face the crowd, it’s all about “getting out of your head and going into your heart”.
But at this stage, it feels too easy to mock Coldplay for being cosy. More than this, they’re a band that puts the effort in and delivers onstage. Before each show on the tour, gig-goers were given special LED wristbands. During the set, these would be illuminated en masse by radio signal, creating an interactive light show. It’s a twist on the old ‘lighters in the air’ moment, but the effect is breathtaking, especially as the camera pans out to a packed stadium. And speaking of which, for a bunch of so-called “boring nice guys”, Coldplay look pretty comfortable performing to 75,000 people.