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Live Coldplay conveys emotion

Observer Scene | Thursday, November 20, 2003

Typically, live albums are either excellent or terrible. Very few reach a middle ground, as the vast majority walk the margins by being garbled, unintelligible bootlegs, major disappointments or marvelous career moments captured within a single compilation of live recordings. Even rarer than either of these options are albums that climb into a pantheon of personal achievement, such as It’s Too Late To Stop Now by Van Morrison or Bob Dylan’s Royal Albert Hall Concert.Coldplay’s newest release features both a DVD of a concert in Sydney from their latest tour in support of last year’s A Rush of Blood to the Head, and a CD with some of the same recordings on it. There are two new songs on the album, as well as an accompanying tour diary and various other additions such as lyric links. Cinematically, the concert is brilliantly shot, with swooping camera angles and a variety of tones and colors to bring to life both the songs and the performers. Although not necessarily breaking any unexplored territory, there is a definite artistic quality in its composition, and it provides a very beautiful viewing experience.When you listen to Coldplay, you listen to a broken heart. The strength of the entire effort comes from the ability of the band’s music to create a texture and a complexity that renders every moment relevant and real. “A Rush of Blood to the Head” is a worthy companion to U2’s “Love is Blindness,” a loping affair of despair and potential violence; “Politik,” an address of the inhumanity of world affairs; “Yellow,” the elation of finding someone in which to put all the trust and love you’ve been holding onto for years. “The Scientist” continues its reign as the best love ballad in years, but the highlight of both the CD and the DVD is the inclusion of ‘See You Soon,” an early recording from The Blue Room EP. A gorgeous acoustic track filled out in concert by moaning guitar and slight drum work, it’s the tale of lost trust and isolation, a wounded man “in a bulletproof vest with the windows all closed,” and it is as uplifting as it is tear-inducing.The weakness of the compilation comes from its odd track selections, as not all of the tracks from the DVD concert are included on the bonus CD. Although this is not the first time in musical history this has happened, it is annoying to be denied five songs when you have a CD player and not a TV. Also, even though the tour diary does illuminate, to some extent, the lives and personalities of the band members, it is not exactly thought-provoking or controversial. Granted, Coldplay’s members aren’t the reincarnation of The Who, but the effort seems a little too rote and obligatory – more of an assignment than an achievement.Unfortunately, Coldplay’s newest album of live material does not climb to the top of a live album list. It has energy, it has the songs, it has some incredible moments, but maybe it’s just a little too early in their career to release such a work. What the listener gets is an album of promises and expectations, and disappointment at not being able to find tickets or time to get to a show. They certainly make their songs come alive in concert, a difficult feat that many decent bands fail to achieve, as displayed by the many mind-numbing recordings of “Corduroy” on Pearl Jam’s excessive number of live albums. Of course, Coldplay are still in career infancy. As listeners, we have to give them time, because one day, they’ll blow our minds.

Contact Liam Farrell at lfarrell@nd.edu