Venue: Rogers Centre
Rating: **** (out of 5)
With the music industry losing loads of cash and smaller acts getting more attention, many people think the era of huge record sales and big stadium shows is over. One problem with that theory: Coldplay.
It seems that no one told the British foursome, which is arguably the biggest band in the world right now, that the days of epic, over-the-top concerts are a thing of the past. The band has been traversing the world playing for thousands of fans in both packed arenas and bursting-at-the-seams stadiums, and putting on a damn good show at that.
By the time the group took the stage Thursday night it had played nearly 140 shows in support of its most recent album, Viva la Vida. While they’ve been putting on large, anthemic shows for years, the new disc, with its rockier tones and more guitar-based songs, meant fans were in for a more raucous show than they may have seen the last time the band strolled into town.
That energy came through early, as they kicked off the gig with the opening to Vida’s Life in Technicolor and then quickly moved to that album’s first single, Violet Hill. Clocks, their massive hit off their sophomore disc was third, while their other dramatic single off A Rush of Blood To The Head, In My Place, soon followed.
What was most remarkable, and somewhat surprising, is how intense the show was. While songs like Parachutes’ Yellow and X&Y’s Fix You are catchy enough, their measured pace can feel sluggish on disc.
Live, however, many of Coldplay’s slower tracks (and there are many), were amped up, or at least had more of a soul than their recorded versions.
It helped that the group, decked out in the same drunken clown-like military garb you’ve seen in their recent press shots, had no qualms about prancing around the large stage like they were in a brash rock band — and the screams and yells from the nearly 44,000 Torontonians didn’t hurt either.
If there were any low points it was when Martin went behind the piano. (Which, again, happened a lot.) His stage presence is still commanding when he’s sitting down, but he’s far more engaging when he’s able to move freely, or when he’s bobbing his head and strumming a guitar.
Still, the group have mastered the difficult art of putting on an intimate and alluring performance at a place like the Rogers Centre. And if this was the last large-scale rock show to come to Canada, then what a way to go out.