Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coldplay Redux ...

As I write this (it's 10:20 p.m. at the moment), Chris Martin and Co. are winding up their second show at the United Center, presuming tonight is following the same basic schedule as yesterday.

Before I face-planted on my desk last night, which was really early this morning, I managed to squeak out a few words about how amazing the show was last night. I'm listening to my Coldplay iTunes library at the moment, reliving the show.

"The Scientist" is up first. The boys played this selection in the second tier of the United Center. They finished a song, left the stage, ran across the main floor, up an aisle, through a doorway and reappeared through another doorway to perform among the fans. Who says the best seats are always in the front row?

"Politik" now. A powerful song on its own, a steady driving beat, but the chorus, "Open up your eyes," was reinforced by a video montage of world events. Political? Sure. The song is called "Politik." But it's not a gimmick. Just as Bono and U2 really are involved in AIDS awareness, Coldplay is aligned with Oxfam International. When you're one of the most popular bands on the planet, you might as well use your notoriety to raise recognition.

I was supposed to see the show with my friend Steve. Steve, however, managed to get himself embroiled in a nasty case of food poisoning yesterday afternoon. So after I met him at his office, walked with him to Walgreens to procure Gatorade and Sprite and other assorted sickness supplies, and then walked him to his apartment near Navy Pier, I hopped on my cell phone, scrolling through my contacts, seeing who might be free on short notice to use the other ticket. I walked and talked and by the time I'd called every viable candidate (read: everyone local), I realized that I was close enough to the United Center that I should just walk the rest of the way. It seemed pathetic to grab a cab for six blocks or so.

Those of you familiar with Chicago might be saying, "Wait. You walked from Navy Pier to the United Center?" Yes, I did. Yes, it is rather far. About four miles. Not far if you're driving. Not really far if you're walking, even. Unless you'd already logged 8 miles of walking that day, six of which in shoes not particularly conducive to walking. But hey, it was good practice for the 3-Day.

So I arrived at the United Center with no takers for the ticket and decided to eat the other seat. I didn't want to try to sell it to someone I would then have to sit next to for the next several hours. I had a fleeting thought that perhaps fate had brought me to that moment and if I sold the ticket, it would be to the man to whom I was meant to spend my life.

And then I thought, "Nah."

I headed inside, plunked down four dollars for a bottle of water, which the woman at the counter then poured into fountain cup, topped off with ice, capped with a lid, and handed to me. I'm sure Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow must be really fond of the idea of creating twice the waste at all of his concerts.

"Green Eyes" now (speaking of not being green). This was the band's only encore performance, performed by Chris on acoustic guitar and the drummer on, natch, piano. As Chris said, and you'll pardon his French, "This is going to be an encore in the true sense of the word, because we have no fucking idea what we're going to do for you." They consulted for a moment and "decided" on this song. But it was a lovely way to close the show, like one of those small, square, pastel after-dinner mints. And I have green eyes, so I appreciated the lyrics, including:

That green eyes
You're the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who tried to deny you
Must be out of their mind

Here, here.

Earlier, though, my phone rang as I settled into my seat. Angela, one of the friends I called on my trek, turns out, lives right across the street from the United Center. I had no idea! So she walked across the parking lot, I met her at the gates with the ticket, and she joined me for the show. Mind you, she was one of about four black people there, but she had a good time. It's rather impossible not to have a good time when Chris and the boys are on the stage.

The show hit all the high notes, opening and closing (if you don't count the encore) with "Life in Technicolor," the intro to "Viva La Vida," the band's latest effort, which I strongly encourage you to buy if you haven't already.

Yes, I know not everyone is a fan of Coldplay. Chris knows it, too. The concert was being filmed last night, so he told us that they were going to play an old song so we could sing along and blow the rafters off the place (that was "Yellow") and then they would play a new song, and if we sang it well, they would play it again and record the second take. The new song was "Lost," which is one of my favorite cuts from the new album. He was pleased with our performance on the first take, and they launched into the tune a second time. The crowd did not disappoint. We were the very vision of ecstatic concert-goers. Chris thanked us for our enthusiasm afterward, saying he knows it's not necessarily easy to be a Coldplay fan these days.

The band does seem to engender a fair amount of animosity. And frankly, I don't know why. I think they're all incredibly talented musicians. They stand for something yet refrain from heavy-handed preaching. And they put on, undeniably, a rollicking concert experience.

"Clocks" now. Even Angela knew this tune. And while I don't remember the song that inspired it, we were both taken with the shower of confetti late in the show, the "rainbow rain," as Angela called it. It was magical.

P.S. Greg Kot's review for the Chicago Tribune is here.


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