Realizing that attending Saturday night's Coldplay show--their first in Nashville in six years--was a no-lose situation, as we were guaranteed an entertaining spectacle of sound and vision, we decided we owed it to ourselves to witness the phenomenon of the band's success firsthand, and made it down to the Sommet Center on time. There, we got caught up in the cattle-herd of teenagers outfitted in Viva La Vida fatigues, popped-collar frat boys and their girlfriends, Jon Bon Jovi look-a-likes who color-code their two-tone dye jobs with their pre-ripped jeans and slobbering drunk cougars. As a result, we missed the first half of Howling Bells, whose brief, shoegazey set droned more than howled.
Even from our plush ninth-row floor seats it was hard to see the Australian foursome burning holes in their shoes and taking cues from the 4AD discography due to the "moody" lighting that obscured them. Which is just as well considering that what they do is pretty antithetical to the whole arena rock thing.
Direct support act Snow Patrol were an utter waste of time. Between the contrived stadium choruses and a singer whose favorite move was reaching up to the sky to make sure we got a long look at his white belt and even whiter midriff, they blandly satisfied all the requisite criteria of the adult-alternative idiom. A shout-out to Grimey's record shop--where an in-store by the band earlier in the day had resulted in Beatlesque pandemonium--was enough for us to forgive their mediocrity and endure a set that would make Coldplay's seem fiercely original by comparison.
The arena, which appeared to be at capacity, was brimming with excitement in anticipation of the night's headliners, and you didn't have to be a fan to share in the palpable enthusiasm that comes with knowing you're about to see one of the biggest bands in the world. The crowd's deafening reaction as the band took stage with the one-two opening punch of Viva La Vida's "Life in Technicolor" and "Violet Hill" only grew louder with the trifecta of "Clocks," "In My Place" and "Yellow" (with the last chorus dedicated to Faith and Tim) that immediately followed--a string of hits that we were surprised to see played so early in proceedings. The fact that they could blow such a load in the first quarter of the set was a testament to their sheer prowess as both hit-makers and arena-rockers. Combine this the band's unsullied musical execution, frontman Chris Martin's disgustingly boyish charisma and the multitude of lasers, video imagery, dragon costumes, bursting ballo0ns and confetti cannons, and you have exactly what we came to see--a hit-laden multi-media extravaganza of epic proportions.
Mercifully, Martin & Co. spared us twelve of the thirteen tracks from 2005's critically maligned X&Y, opting only to play the overwrought anthem "Fix You," which was second only to the band's ultimate pussy-wetter "The Scientist" in eliciting the fever-pitch sing-along of the night. Along the way there was the epic fan favorite "Politick," nearly all of Viva La Vida and a smoke-break inducing solo piano set by Martin. While Martin's arrhythmic airplane imitations and cringetacular Bono-aping were a little much to handle at times, we found that our hands were up in the air, our heads were bobbing and our mouths were open more than we'd care to admit.