Coldplay concert worthwhile set despite short duration

Jeff Yerger

Change. That word has been thrown around a lot lately, especially in the past couple weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election. The night after Chris Martin pretty much endorsed Barack Obama at the end of his performance on “Saturday Night Live,” Coldplay proved that change is exactly what it needed this time around and that it is still the biggest band in the world right now.

The Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., isn’t the greatest venue for a concert; it’s an ugly, bland and steep building, but this didn’t hinder the show’s impact at all. Coldplay filled the room with light and color.

As the lights grew dim, the sounds of Jay-Z and Austrain composer Johann Strauss blared from the loud speakers, emphasizing the R&B and classical feel to Coldplay’s multi-platinum album “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.”

Hit after hit filled Coldplay’s set, and not a moment was wasted here, which isn’t hard for Martin, who thrives on being the center of attention and keeping the crowd on its feet. Coldplay did not hesitate to pull out the big guns early, beginning with three mega-hits – “Violet Hill,” “Clocks” and “In My Place” – the latter getting the crowd to erupt in an enormous sing-a-long. Even the light show added an extra effect to the trite singles like “Speed of Sound,” which the band played in complete darkness save for black-lights and giant glowing globes hanging above the stage.

Say what you want about Coldplay, but there’s no beating these guys when it comes to playing music that reaches the rafters in an arena, both metaphorically and literally.

After the most massive performances of the night – “Viva La Vida” and “Lost!” – the band members immediately ran into the crowd, making their way to section 104 way in the back of the building.

There, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, they performed a beautiful acoustic version of “The Scientist,” as well as the b-side “Death Will Never Conquer,” which was performed by the multi-talented drummer Will Champion with Martin on the harmonica.

The ever-humble frontman apologized for his harmonica-playing, saying, “You paid good money to hear someone play an instrument very badly.” In reality, though, it was quite good.

The set was filled with anthems like “Fix You,” “42,” “Politik” and “Lovers in Japan,” as well as a couple of curveballs like the indecipherable “Chinese Sleep Chant” – a hidden track on “Viva” – and a mashup of “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” and “Talk.” It was an odd choice to perform those particular songs like that, but again it was a change for Coldplay, and change is good.

The night drew to an abrupt close in a strange and confusing fashion. The show was moving along well until the band members left section 104 to go back to the stage. They did not make it back to the stage for about five minutes, and all the while, a remixed version of “Viva La Vida” played through the speakers. Was this their encore break already? It felt like the show had barely started.

Sure enough, they came out to play three more songs in what seemed to be the start of the second half of the show.

But then they left the stage again, only to come back to play one more song for the encore, “Yellow.” A one-song encore was bizarre and insulting to fans.

Coldplay certainly fell a bit short, as it felt like the band short changed the audience. If artists who are more than twice Coldplay’s age, like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, can play for nearly three hours, why can’t Coldplay? It doesn’t make any sense. Nevertheless, the show succeeded in pleasing the fans, which is what’s been most important to Martin and Co. these days.

Coldplay put on a thrilling performance while it was on the stage, even if it was just for a little over an hour and a half.