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issue: 03/01/2001

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Coldplay, Live at the Mayan Theatre
Los Angeles
, 2/13/01

- by Jennifer Hawker

British music is on the rise once again in America, led by last year's darlings Travis, and followed by previously underrated singers David Gray and Dido. Rounding out the pack of pop-rock favorites from Britain is the London-based band Coldplay, who impressed Mindjack in the latter part of 2000 with their debut release, Parachutes.

Making their Los Angeles debut at the Mayan Theatre last month, the lads didn't fail to win over their audience on the first of a two-night engagement — despite a set that lasted barely an hour, encore included. Near the end of their main set, singer Chris Martin apologized, explaining that with only one album out they simply didn't have enough songs prepared for a long live set. Seemingly to make up for a lack of material, we were treated to two new songs during the evening. The first offering, Animals, was a complement to the rest of the set, showing off Martin's aching falsetto. The second new song, In My Place, immediately sounded like a lead single contender for the album the band is currently writing — full of catchy hooks, it was an immediate hit with the sell-out crowd. If these two songs are any indication of what Coldplay's next album will explore, then the band should have no fear of failure.

The familiar songs of Parachutes took on new meaning in the live setting, from the dreamy, haunting sounds of opener Spies, to the heartfelt Trouble. Coldplay didn't merely regurgitate the album's tracks, but added a certain amount of magic. Sparkling magic. There was a sense in the crowded theatre that night that everyone was witness to something truly special and memorable.

The simplicity of the stage setting was key in enhancing the atmosphere without distracting one from the music: a simple lighted globe [similar to the Parachutes album cover] and a shimmering, glittery mirror ball were simple touches of beauty, perfectly suited for an intimate show.

Though Coldplay have only had one U.S. radio hit with Yellow, the audience's familiarity with the rest of Parachutes' tracks was astounding, as many sang along with the catchy Shiver as well as the album's "anthem" track, Don't Panic. As Martin sang, "We live in a beautiful world," the audience shared that belief with him, even if only for that night. The sighs of joy and contentment from the pack of teenaged girls around me justified that fact alone.

We also learned that night that Coldplay hasn't let the past year's overwhelming success get to their heads; in fact, Chris Martin showed quite the sense of humor about it. "About a year ago not even our parents would speak to us," teased Martin. "But now we hang out with people like the Queen of England and famous people like that."

The humor didn't end with the between-song banter either. After the treat of In My Place as an encore, the audience was clamoring for more, and received it in the form of a cover tune: the Bond theme You Only Live Twice. Reactions were a bit mixed to the song, but this was more a reflection to the wide range of ages at the show than an insult to the performance. As the song ended and the rest of the band left the stage, Martin was left banging about on the keyboards, which seemed odd until the audience quieted enough to hear the chords to What The World Needs Now Is Love being tapped out. Again, whether the audience was shocked or if they were otherwise too young too know the song was not obvious, but quiet respect was shown as Martin sang the first verse and the chorus before he too said thanks and departed.

I looked around to see the audience blinking with wonder at what they'd just witnessed, not sure whether it had been real or a fantasy, but with smiling faces all the same.

Though it was over all too soon, it was a satisfying, magical night from Coldplay — three lads to keep an eye on as they and their music mature in the future.

b i o :
Jennifer Hawker is a recent Kalamazoo College graduate in Computer Science and is pursuing career interests in California.


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