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Still stadium worthy

Alpine Valley Music Theatre
East Troy, WI
July 25, 2009
Coldplay Coldplay Coldplay

Review and photos by Phil Bonyata

While Coldplay's commercial success has been meteoric the last few years - some have questioned the level of their artistry. The band has laid one of the most commercially successful pop rock blueprints in years. But, somehow their sincerity lacks the soul searching passion of U2 or the experimentation (such as the Brian Eno produced Viva La Vida) misses the creativity of Radiohead (two bands often compared to Coldplay). Still, an infectious charm bleeds through their sweeping melodies and crisply laid chords.

Returning to Alpine Valley Music Theatre in nearly four years, the band was able to fill about 30,000 seats of the venue's 42,000 seat capacity. Considering the state of the economy and personally witnessing less then stellar crowds at both Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI) and Country Thunder (Twin Lakes, WI) recently, the band and promoters should be quite happy with the turnout. Opening their set with the loopy and buoyant "Life In Technicolor" and then segueing into the radio-savvy pop/rock of "Violet Hill" Coldplay laid down their marching papers without any apologies. Frontman Martin displayed his talents on the piano with the ethereal "Clocks" - while the sometimes sweet pop-melody got a bit lost in it's own syrup. Chris Martin is an ideal frontman displaying a natural charisma, good looking (but never playing the sex symbol) and the moves that are made for the stage. As the opening notes of "Yellow" floated through the stadium hundreds of giant yellow balloons were introduced to the crowd. The orbs bounced in a surreal unison and beautiful symmetry to the song's contagious chorus.

Coldplay, trying to minimize the stadium experience for some lucky fans, performed a few numbers on a ministage. An increased passion was suddenly infused into their performance there - they might be well suited to include some smaller clubs and venues along the way on their tour. If not for the fans then possibly re-igniting their own passions by what the intimacy of human contact has on the artistic psyche. "42" displayed an initial frailty that quickly morphed into a sweeping maelstrom - with guitarist Jon Buckland churning out monster chords while drummer Will Champion put the bombast squarely in the center of the rhythm section. "Viva La Vida," with it's sweeping and gorgeous melody, was truly an ambitious rendition with the band melding into a orchestral bombardment. With the opening chords of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" the vast majority of the audience began to excitedly sing the first verse - "She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene." The song came off a bit like pandering kitsch. But, Michaelmania would have no room for criticism here.

Closing their set with "The Escapist," Martin displayed once again the power of his vigorous and velveteen voice. Hitting his highs with extreme clarity and his lows with boisterous timbre and natural aplomb. There is a haunting beauty to Coldplay's music that even their most ardent critics can't deny.

Alpine Valley setlist:
Life In Technicolor
Violet Hill
In My Place
Glass Of Water
Cemeteries Of London
Fix You
Strawberry Swing
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
The Hardest Part
Postcards From Far Away
Viva La Vida
Green Eyes
Death Will Never Conquer
Billie Jean
Viva La Vida (Remix Interlude)
Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends

The Scientist
Life In Technicolor II
The Escapist

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Coldplay - Concert review - East Troy, WI - Aug. 2005

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