The Brit Boys are Big But Are They Getting Bored?
The reviews from Coldplay's current North American tour have been mixed — by both critics and fans. People who attended the band's Viva La Vida July 22 tour stop in Chicago said the sound was amazing and that it was one of the best live shows they'd ever seen. Expectations were high for last night's show, and the sold-out crowd screamed every time Chris Martin said anything into the mic — even when being goofy and cheeky while saying some canned lines he likely says at every show.
The band came out strong, walking out to the instrumental "Life in Technicolor" and then launching into a rousing version of "Violet Hill," which led to "Clocks," where the band and audience were swathed in red light and penetrated with multi-colored lasers. They played possibly every track off the new album — "Strawberry Swing" was a personal highlight — but where were the songs from the first three releases? For a show that ran nearly two hours, the band played more of a blend of greatest hits: "Yellow," "In My Place," "Fix You" (which, in true Coldplay grandiose style, was layered and beautiful), "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" (a cool remix version that was played on a small stage that jutted out into the crowd), "The Scientist" and "Politik," which again proved the band can fill a stadium with their now larger-than-life presence. A high point came when Martin announced they were filming a video for "Lost," which the band ran through twice — apparently something they did last night as well. The second run through was definitely tighter and more on point.
However, it would've been nice to hear more of a blend from all four albums (where the hell was "Talk" and "Everything's Not Lost"?) and at some points, it felt like Coldplay was phoning in the performance. "Speed of Sound" didn't have the energy of shows past. At times, Guy Berrymore — who couldn't be bothered for some reason to return to the stage for the surprise encore of "Green Eyes," despite Martin calling out for his longtime mate and carrying on anyway — looked like he'd rather be elsewhere. Same with Jonny Buckland. If Will Champion hadn't been such a rhythmic bruiser on the drum kit, he too, may have wanted to meet up with friends at a bar instead of being on stage. To that end, the nice thing about Coldplay is that, for the most part, they seem like they enjoy each others' company and like playing with each other — not an easy task for a major act on a worldwide tour. And this isn't to say the show wasn't fun, because it was. And they sounded great. But it would've been nice to hear them sound great on a wider variety of tunes. Hopefully they'll mix it up for the rest of the tour.
If you want to round out your summer with some sweet, golden "wish I grew up in the '70s" tunes, pay attention to Sunfold. This North Carolina band, fronted by the not-even-legal-to-drink Kenny Florence and backed by members of Annuals, is set to release its debut, Toy Tugboats, on July 22. If the rest of the album is as catchy as this single, "Sara the American Winter," it's going to help keep things warm around these parts well into the fall.
The '80s pop star proves he's still got it during this "farewell" tour
[Photos courtesy of Barry Brecheisen]
It only took 17 years, but George Michael finally returned to the big stage last night in Chicago -- and what a stage it was. Looking like a massive cascading waterfall, the multi-story-high LED backdrop—replete with light shows and now-vintage videos—flowed down to serve as Michael's stage and dance floor. The iconic '80s pop singer who has had more notoriety in the last decade for his sex scandals and drug busts put on a two-set, two-plus-hour show to a nearly sold-out United Center. Word has it that the previous show in Minneapolis only saw a half-full arena Michael allegedly played a half-assed show. Not the case in Chicago. He honestly seemed thrilled to be here and the crowd made him feel right at home.
When this song came across my desk (OK, my IM) about an hour ago, I couldn't believe the enormity of it. It sounds like it was made for a major arena circa 1977. L.A.'s Bigelf will drop their new album, Cheat the Gallows, Aug. 12 on Custard Records (Linda Perry's label). Check out "Money, It's Pure Evil" and listen for influences from the Beatles, Bowie, Pink Floyd — and even Lenny Kravitz (when he was still making good music). This album could be a big surprise this year — but I'm solely basing that on this one song (the tracks from their last album, which you can hear on MySpace, are decidedly heavier and darker a la Sabbath. Who knows, it could suck, but at least this song is cool). Apparently Alicia Keys is a fan. Random.