Left Cold


Originally uploaded by peechie.

I went to see Coldplay’s first of two shows at GM Place last night. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

I’m trying not to be a concert snob about the whole thing, but I see a lot of concerts, and I know pretty well what most venues in town are capable of offering in terms of an enjoyable experience. And Coldplay could’ve done a whole lot better than they did. I daresay, I could’ve produced a better show myself.

First off, the sound was terrible. I’ve heard opening bands sound clearer in that venue. I can give some leniency on that one, because a concrete arena is never a great place for acoustics. But even putting that aside, Chris Martin’s vocals were obviously flat, and his piano was obviously sharp. Also, a huge strength of Coldplay’s music is the amazing instrumental nuances they weave through the tunes. Unfortunately, banging and thrashing those out as hard as possible, in a giant concrete tomb, means all we can hear is BRRRRRRRRRRRRR as the noise reverberates and echos off all available surfaces.

Ok, so maybe I was expecting too much in the way of musical genious from an arena show. So instead I’ll focus on the stage presence and showmanship. I can sum that up in two words: HALF ASSED. They could’ve done so much more than they did with the light/graphic setup they had. Examples:

-The show started with their LCD screen being lit up bright white, and a digital clock counting down the seconds. The song peaked (can’t recall which tune they started with – not Clocks), some blinky light stuff happened, the clock started counting up. After that first song, we never saw the clock again. What was the point?

-During the song Yellow, they dropped about a dozen giant yellow balloons on to the crowd, which were filled with gold sparkles, so they looked kinda cool when they popped. But it would’ve looked SO much better if the room was full of say, yellow light. Instead of basic white (which comprised about 85% of the show lighting, just white lights, up)

-There were a couple light-up squares on the front projection of the stage. They were used twice. Why not light up the whole thing? Why not use them more?

-Chris Martin’s piano was a black upright, with three small neon green lights on the side. Light that whole mofo up! Take a page from Elton and make it a bright red grand piano! Make fireworks shoot out the top of it or something!

-It did not help that the entire band was wearing black shirts and pants, with white shoes. They completely blended into their stage/set. And while I’m not going to pass judgement on the white shoes, I will say that I don’t totally disagree with my friend Jay’s sentiment that “White shoes are for two kinds of people: Nurses, and Mental Patients.”

-Speaking of the set… it was dark. Black everything, and one curved video screen at the back. No height was used, and the video displays, while neat, were nothing I haven’t seen at every concert I’ve been to since 1996. Not what I’d expect from a band that I’ve heard compared to U2 in energy and showmanship.

-There was ONE cool light effect during the whole show. That was when they put a rainbow refraction effect over the whole crowd, and had the album art from X&Y running across the LCD screen. I enjoyed that. What I did NOT enjoy, was the fact they did that during Clocks, which is one of their hits, but not from the X&Y Album! A great opportunity to solidify the show, totally wasted.

I could go on and pick the rest of the show apart, but I think you get the gist.

Bottom line, there was not only nothing impressive, but there was no theme or continuity to their stage show, which is absolutely essential in a stadium show, where the artist wants to reach the person in the top row at the very back, just as much as the person front row centre.

I’d love to see Coldplay in a small venue, but in terms of stadium shows, I’d say they’ve got a lot to learn before I’ll ever pay stadium show prices to see them again.

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11 thoughts on “Left Cold

  1. Chris

    I think thats a little harsh calling the set etc. I dont like Coldplay, I’ve been known to berrate them quite happily for sticking 12 or 13 pieces of crap on a cd but I cant help thinking that the lousy sound was the big concrete stadium not Colplay.

    Stage presence is fair cop to an extent but their musics hardly enthralling stuff is it, they are represented by their music, dull music usually made by dullish people.

    Can’t imagine Axl Rose ripping through Fix You, sure you can’t either

  2. peechie Post author

    I wouldn’t have minded the bad sound, *is* a concrete stadium after all. But they were badly out of tune, and the showmanship was clearly lacking.

    And I have seen “adult contemporary” artists (Tim McGraw, John Mayer) in GM and the Coliseum. Both of whom I was impressed with. There is a way to put on a good stadium show without being Axl Rose – Coldplay just didn’t.

  3. Jeffery Simpson

    The show was too overpriced, and I knew they weren’t going to have the stage presence having seen their live DVD. It takes a lot of thought on how to take a song from an intimate venue (CD/iPod/headphones) and transform it to fit into a giant stadium. It’s not just about light shows either.

    Oasis’ last show in Vancouver was great, and they don’t really dance around but their songs are big songs, and they fill a room. U2’s songs are big too, and even before all the TV screens of Zoo TV or the disco ball lemon they knew how to hold a stadium in the palm of their hands.

    Coldplay, whom I really like, seem too much like a decent indie band who’ve accidently become rock stars and it’s not that they don’t have the desire to be huge, unlike a Kurt Cobain, it’s just that they haven’t quite figured out what it means performance wise.

  4. danny!

    saw them on their first tour in 20o1 at metropolis and they were awesome. sounds like they’re a better small venue band. martin had great stage presense and he even interacted with the audience.

  5. justin

    that’s a pretty weak critique, seeing as you failed to mention other key points of the show as well. To jump off of the stage you’re performing on and jump into a screaming crowd of fans is something you don’t see most performers do these days, so to that I say props to them. The show may have started off slow paced, but wow! It couldn’t have finished any better. Money well spent!

  6. peechie Post author

    justin: I’ve seen oodles of performers leap into or run around in the audience. Dixie Chicks, Chris Cagle, Billy Corgan (during his Smashing Pumpkins days), Pennywise, Fred Durst (during the Limp Bizkut days), Dave Grohl to name a few off the top of my head. While it’s a nice touch, it fails to REALLY impress me.

    You wanna talk about impressive? How about Green Day pulling random people out of the audience to play their instruments (lead guitar, bass, drums) on stage while Billy-Joe Armstrong belts out the tune, then GIVE AWAY the instruments to the lucky new musicians.

    THAT’S a way to get the crowd excited and involved. A sweaty rock star dashing past me… meh.

  7. Esther

    I just saw them last night at the Arrowhead Pond and I must say they were incredible. The acoustics were just right and I think the attitude that the band exudes is not one of grandiose commercialism as that of U2 but one of intimacy that appeals to the indie rock audience on a grander scale. Chris Martin ran through the audience to sing to the crowds in the back and it was clear that Coldplay really appreciated our interactions and reactions. And the light show was varied and absolutely mind bogglingly colorful so I’m guessing it depends on the stadium. Overall, spectacular!

  8. kallie

    They must have given the excellent performance to US in Vegas.

    You don’t seem like you like coldplay much as it is. when you like the band a lot, the experience is much better.

    his piano doesn’t have green lights. it has a green equal sign on it, and on the side it says “MTF” for make trade fair. it’s a great organization that he supports.

    the first song is “square one”
    which is why they had the clock. the song talks about time, and being stuck in square one.

    there must have been something wrong with your lighting, because in vegas..the lights were yellow during “yellow”
    they had a bright yellow light during that song that was cast over the whole crowd. chris smashed the yellow balls with his guitar. he cracked jokes, they were amazing.

    you didn’t even mention half of the things that happen during the show. the crowd singing along is the most amazing part, I think.

    what about the light in “fix you”

    this review really sucked, hate to say.
    your stadium must have sucked. sorry.

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