Review – Coldplay at GM Place, Vancouver, June 20 2009
– review by Shawn Conner
Let me say upfront that I’ve never been a huge Coldplay fan, though individual songs have wowed me – “Talk”, for instance, never fails to slay. Other songs have struck me as too vanilla, melodramatic, sappy – none of those are exactly the right word, but some combination of the three.
But the show at GM Place was great.
Unfortunately, I’d made the mistake of reading a review (of the Edmonton concert) beforehand, and so things that should have been surprises weren’t. It was like seeing The Crying Game and already knowing Darth is Luke’s father.
So if you intend on seeing Coldplay on its current tour (Europe, then back in North America), skip this review, or skip to the last paragraphs about Howling Bells and Snow Patrol.
What made the Coldplay show enjoyable and awesome and all that is the connection the band, and especially singer Chris Martin, has with the fans. The audience was definitely part of it – arena singalongs and Coldplay arena singalongs are two different things. This was an audience that seemed in ecstasy from the moment the band took the stage. (And swooned even more when Martin buttered ’em up by noting his band could have filmed a concert DVD in 19 countries but chose Canada, specifically Vancouver.)
Each song got its own special treatment, and no trick was unturned in Martin’s working of the crowd. The cellphone (“Mobiles as well call them in the UK,” said Martin) wave, the foray into the other side of the arena, the butterfly confetti, the yellow balloons, it was all there. U2 and Peter Gabriel are the other two arena shows I can compare this spectacle to; maybe Bruce Springsteen as well, though he’s a lot less gimmicky.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I loved the gimmicks. I loved Martin’s lack of guile, Will Champion‘s pounding beat, and Jonny Buckland‘s sinewy riffs, too. There were songs I liked more hearing them live, songs I never knew I liked as much as I did, and sure, a few (mostly the piano ballads) I could do without. It was still a magnificent show.
Snow Patrol is more problematic. I like the scruffy Scots when they rock, as on “Eyes Open”; but “Chasing Cars” has always struck me as a maudlin bore (hence it’s inclusion on Grey’s Anatomy). Can’t fault the band for trying, though, and singer Gary Lightbody gave it his all.
Howling Bells had the advantage of being fresh and the disadvantage of being unknown to the crowd and stuck in the soundtrack-to-finding-the-seat position on the bill. But the London-by-way-of Sydney quartet won over at least a few fans with its dark-edged, big-chorused rock; after the set, one of the ushers could be heard telling people as he directed them to their seats, “too bad you missed the opening band, they were really good. You know, Coldplay was once an opening band, too.”