Coldplay : Live 2003

It’s the ‘dancing’ you’ll buy it for...

It’s the ‘dancing’ you’ll buy it for. Chris Martin’s wild wobblers, part interpretive display of his inner exuberance, part pre-marital test to see if Gwynnie’ll put up with the embarrassment. He hops back and forward across the stage throughout ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’ like a one-legged Bez on a hot tin roof. He does a kind of rock’n’roll morris dance for ‘Shiver’. He leaps and spins like a Sunny Delight-blitzed four-year-old through ‘Yellow’ and has a fight with the sky during ‘In My Place’. He’s a one-man special needs dance therapy session and he’s all the flam and fireworks that [a]Coldplay[/a] could ever need.

It’s a rare and wondrous thing to capture a band at the stage that ‘Live 2003’ – a DVD and live CD pairing both recorded at the Sydney Horden Pavilion in July – finds the ‘Play; that blinking pupae stage of emerging into the stadium league without the circus trappings of the stadium show. Though they now belong to everybody they’re still uniquely [I]yours[/I] – still the four blokes who were wrenching these gargantuan tunes from their cavernous souls down the Camden Barfly four years ago, it’s just the stages that got bigger. So, uncluttered by spinning drumkits, flame-spurting plectrums, flying [a]Moby[/a]s or murderous white tigers, what comes across here is the sheer [I]frenzy[/I] of band and audience – the crowd ecstatic that such a brilliant and intimate band have rightfully conquered the world (as opposed to, say, [a]Toploader[/a]), and Chris overjoyed that his fears of a twatted-up second album followed by lifelong virginity have been well and truly laid to rest. And so he ‘dances’. He ‘dances’ like a loon.

And if you’re intending to join the bring-bottle-and-broken-heart party to celebrate the monumental successes of [a]Coldplay[/a] in 2003, it’s vital that you watch him. Whereas ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ – and indeed the 12-track live CD that accompanies this DVD – suggested an emotional distance from his music by it’s sheer sonic expanse, the 90 minutes of electrifying, goosebumps-on-yer-goosebumps concert footage here is proof that Martin is howling from deep within the belly of this beauteous beast, a joyous slave to his muse. From the opening CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG as the Martian death robots march upon ‘Politik’, through the Bond theme-ish ‘Everything’s Not Lost’ (essentially ‘Live And Let Lie Down For A Bit’), right up to the National Anthem of Screeland that is ‘Life Is For Living’, [a]Coldplay[/a] pound, caress and eviscerate the still-yearning hearts out of their songs, clearly at the absolute peak of their musical powers and personal thrillrides. There are sneaking signs that they’re adapting to the dressing-room-the-size-of-a-football-pitch way of life – ’See You Soon’ is Chris’ [a]Jeff Buckley[/a] solo acoustic moment while infamous ‘new one’ ‘Moses’ rattles pleasantly along on the shed-cred coat-tails of [a]U2[/a] and [a]REM[/a]. But come the pre-encore shiver onslaught where the overwhelming intensity of ‘Clocks’ is wrapped between planet bursting blasts through ‘Yellow’ and ‘In My Place’ and a version of ‘The Scientist’ that could make Cheryl Tweedy hug a toilet attendant, you realise that you’re having the time of your life watching [a]Coldplay[/a] have the time of their lives. What’s that [a]Eminem[/a]? Big wheel, y’say? Yeah, [I]whatever[/I]…

After the full on celebration of the DVD, the accompanying truncated CD of the same show and the extra tour diary footage prove somewhat superfluous. The live CD captures the excitement of the gig but loses the vicarious [I]pride[/I] you feel in watching Martin’s antics (and a fair bit of the set’s tear-jerking ennui by dropping ‘Trouble’ and ‘The Scientist’ from the cut). The latter is amusing for its backstage footage of the band discussing which of them most looks like a geography teacher and running through a punk ‘Trouble’ at soundcheck, but otherwise simply adds more evidence to the rumour that touring is on a par, excitement-wise, with going to the Watching Paint Dry Convention with Jewel. No, buy ‘Live 2003’ for the ‘dancing’, and let your inner rock’n’roll morris dancer hop free.

Mark Beaumont

Get ‘Live 2003’ at the NME Shop