RedEye

Concert review: Coldplay at United Center

On Coldplay’s latest album, “Mylo Xyloto,” the British quartet traces the story of a desperate couple running from the unnamed bad guys. “From underneath the rubble,” Chris Martin intones, “sing a rebel song.”

But that’s just a bunch of malarkey. There’s not a lot of rebelliousness in Martin and his affable bandmates. Exactly the opposite. Inclusion is the big theme at their concerts, and so it was Tuesday in the first of two shows at the United Center.

Guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion and Martin didn’t save their best moves for last. Within minutes, confetti rained down, dozens of beach-ball-sized globes floated and bounced, and six multi-pronged lasers lit up the balconies. Fans who were handed wrist bands at the door found the contraptions glowed in the dark at strategic moments, essentially turning the audience into its own light show.

Martin dropped enough “Chicago” and “Chi-town” references into his songs to suggest that every song had been written with us and only us in mind. A band this aggressively ingratiating can be a bit much, but Coldplay compensates with a scrupulously scripted, fast-paced show chock full of excellent singles: “Yellow,” “Clocks,” “Fix You,” “Viva La Vida,” “Paradise.”

The band’s eagerness to please kept the preachiness and the between-songs patter to a merciful minimum. Instead the foursome turned the interjection “Whoah!” into a 10-syllable celebration, with sing-alongs the rule. The balloons and confetti camouflaged some of the slow spots or underlined the crescendos. The always eager Martin at times resembled an Olympic gymnast performing a particularly awkward floor exercise, sprinting and leap-frogging up and down a runway through the audience.

The stage moves were choreographed to look heroic from the third balcony: Martin kneeling and leaning back with microphone thrust toward Buckland as the guitarist played a solo during “In My Place,” Martin dueting with the video image of Rihanna on “Princess of China,” the band setting up in the middle of the audience to play “Us Against the World.”    

It was professional arena rock executed with lots of recorded backing instrumentation and few moments of genuine spontaneity – the show has been replicated at nearly every tour stop so far. Martin tried to play “Amsterdam,” a song requested by several fans, but could only manage a few lines before breaking it off and returning to the band’s regularly scheduled programming.

“I don’t want to (tick) anyone off,” Martin said by way of apology, while essentially summarizing the band’s career ambitions. Over five albums, Coldplay has flirted with art-rock and world music, but their primary ambition is a crowd-pleasing universality. They want what Rihanna has – to rule the pop world. And they’re going to do it by playing nice.

greg@gregkot.com  

Coldplay set list Tuesday at the United Center:
1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
3. In my Place
4. Major Minus
5. Lovers in Japan
6. The Scientist
7. Yellow
8. Violet Hill
9. God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

Small Stage
10. Princess of China
11. Up in Flames
12. Warning Sign

Main stage
13. Don't Let It Break Your Heart
14. Viva La Vida
15. Charlie Brown
16. Paradise

Encore:
17. Us Against the World
18. Speed of Sound
19. Clocks
20. Fix You
21. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Greg Kot picks the year's top albums -- so far

    Greg Kot picks the year's top albums -- so far

    We're at the halfway point of 2012, as good a time as any to check up on the year's best music so far. I'm not making any claims about where the following albums will end up on my year-end list, but at the moment I can't get enough of them. Time tends to even things out, but a good sign for the...

  • Where to go to laugh while The Second City undergoes repairs

    Where to go to laugh while The Second City undergoes repairs

    The early-afternoon fire on Aug. 26 that started in the Adobo Grill restaurant next door to The Second City has forced the historic theater to move or cancel all of its performances in their Mainstage, e.t.c and UP Comedy Club theaters until at least Sunday, Sept. 20, which will mark 26 days without...

  • City to offer ticket, tax amnesty program

    City to offer ticket, tax amnesty program

    Faced with pushing through City Council a massive property tax increase and other fees as part of a 2016 budget, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to slightly soften that politically difficult package by offering an amnesty program for people who have unpaid tickets and back taxes they owe the city.

  • O'Hare noise complaints top 2 million for year

    O'Hare noise complaints top 2 million for year

    Complaints about jet noise from O'Hare International Airport topped 2 million during the first seven months of this year — eight times the number filed in all of 2014, the Chicago Department of Aviation said Friday.

  • Second City to move or cancel shows through Sept. 20 after fire

    Second City to move or cancel shows through Sept. 20 after fire

    Second City announced Friday it is moving or canceling all performances scheduled in its Mainstage, e.t.c. Stage and UP Comedy Club theaters through Sept. 20 as the comedy company works to clean up after an extra-alarm fire destroyed its Old Town offices last week, though not the performance spaces.

  • Two new 'Empire' songs released before Season 2 premiere

    Two new 'Empire' songs released before Season 2 premiere

    Fox and Columbia Records this week released two new tracks for the second season of "Empire," a show that's filmed in Chicago.

Comments
Loading
74°