If you haven’t heard of Coldplay by now, you’re either Amish or stupid. With only two albums, this London band have taken the world by storm. At first compared to other English “it” bands such as the Verve, Radiohead, and Travis, Coldplay is now either standing on its own, or is being compared to bands that have reached legend status such as U2. Chris Martin, boyfriend of Gwyneth Paltrow, (don’t we always have to mention that? I guess it’s just that we’re jealous) gets his Bono on in the new release Coldplay Live 2003.
The comparisons to the Irish quartet are everywhere on this combination CD and DVD. U2 followed three albums (Boy, October, War) with a live EP, Live: Under a Blood Red Sky. Coldplay is following two very successful albums (Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head) with this live package. The show that U2 recorded for posterity was one at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In the bonus tour diary portion of the DVD, Coldplay indeed does play Red Rocks also. The group all enter stage right under one big umbrella as it is pouring rain out (the fans really didn’t care, and yes I am aware of the fact that Coldplay played in the cold), and during the show, Martin announces that it is playing the venue twenty years to the DAY that U2 played there. Bono is all about erasing the debt for third world countries. Chris Martin can’t be seen without “Make Trade Fair” either on his T-shirt, or written on the back of his hand. All that’s left is for guitarist Johnny Buckland (sounds like a hobbit name, don’t it?) to change his name to “The Cusp.” Of course, U2 isn’t the only group that begs the comparison. One look at the original posters for their shows (inserted nicely as an advertisement for their album collection) brings to mind Echo & the Bunnymen. With the gray background and the black clothes, all done in black and white photograph, it’s almost an exact duplication of Echo’s self-titled album cover. The only difference being that the members of Coldplay are all bold enough to look directly into the camera. It seems as though the group has now become comfortable in their own skins and it shows.
The actual concert proper that is recorded for the DVD and CD alike takes place in Sydney, Australia. The difference between the two formats (besides the obvious audio / visual) is one of space. The DVD concert boasts seventeen tracks, while the CD `clocks’ in with twelve. This is unfortunate as some of their best songs are left off of the CD (“Daylight”, “Trouble”, “Don’t Panic”, “The Scientist”, “Life is for Living”). I was also a little disappointed that the great covers the group sometimes performs were left off (Echo’s “Lips Like Sugar” and A-ha’s “Hunting High and Low”). That being said, I was more than happy with this release. I normally don’t purchase live albums anymore, even from bands that I love. I skipped Radiohead’s I Might be Wrong, Built to Spill’s Live, and a handful of other concert CD’s that I felt were a cop-out. The difference, I suppose, is the strength of Coldplay’s songs in a concert setting. Songs like “Everything’s Not Lost” and “Amsterdam” are full of an energy that just isn’t captured in a studio recording.
The cinematography on the DVD is nothing short of brilliant. Sharp colors, amazing close-ups, often switchable angles, and great lighting all add to the mix. With both a Dolby Digital channel as well as a 5.1 DTS surround track, watching this DVD is the closest thing to actually being there. Coldplay Live 2003 is truly a gift for their fans and one that they took special care with. My problem with most live albums is that they are merely phoned in. Because the band has an obligation to their record company to produce a certain number of albums, they often throw in a live CD or a `greatest hits’ package to keep the lawyers off their backs. This is not the case with Coldplay. Time, effort, and care went into this, including a great “Tour Diary” extra with access to the band on the road (which is every bit the opposite to Radiohead’s Meeting People is Easy, Thom and Co.’s exercise in self-loathing), lyrics to every song included, fantastic menu graphics (love those wire frame cross sections), and even photographs on the enhanced CD. It is evident from this release that every member of this band feels lucky to be where they are and will not forget how good it feels to be able to play rock and roll and be successful at the same time.
U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky
Radiohead – I Might Be Wrong
Jeff Buckley – Mystery White Boy