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

The O2, London, December 10th

[b]Chris Martin[/b] tells [b]Alan Partridge[/b] to fuck off. [b]Rob Brydon[/b] fronts [a]Coldplay[/a], singing ‘[b]White Christmas[/b]’ in the voice of [b]Tom Jones[/b]. And, at several points, everybody’s wrists light up in rainbow neon colours and make The O2 look like [b]The Flaming Lips[/b] 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 [b]Emeli Sandé[/b], but the less said about her microscopic twist of mainstream R&B in the direction of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ the better. [b]Rob Brydon[/b]’s decades-old routine of Welsh stereotypes and hackneyed impressions doesn’t feel much fresher. [a]Tinie Tempah[/a] fares better, prowling [a]Coldplay[/a]’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 ‘[b]Pass Ou[/b]t’.

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

If [a]Coldplay[/a] are finally surrendering all credibility to the pull of the mainstream – witness THAT [i]X Factor[/i] 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 ‘[b]Mylo Xyloto[/b]’ 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: ‘[b]The Scientist[/b]’, ‘[b]Up In Flames[/b]’ and ‘[b]Fix You[/b]’ tear at the Tinie-est of hearts and ‘[b]Hurts Like Heaven[/b]’, ‘[b]Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall[/b]’ and ‘[b]Paradise[/b]’ become roar-along neon-pop firestorms.

Partridge returns to interrupt the downbeat Christmas ballad ‘[b]Christmas Lights[/b]’ claiming it’s “[i]a bit too ‘mopey Joe’[/i]” and leads a duet with Chris on ‘[b]Little Drummer Boy[/b]’ (“[i]a song about a little boy hitting a drum for a virgin[/i]”) 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…

[i]Mark Beaumont[/i]

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

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