How do you make the O2 Arena your own? It's hard to make a gig feel intimate when you have a 20,000 capacity crowd, but you could start by jumping off the stage with your band and bouncing up to a narrow corner to play 'Green Eyes' and 'Death Will Never Conquer', crammed in to the aisle with your mate on harmonica. Even though your mate happens to be comic genius Simon Pegg, it's hard not to feel you're in a much smaller local space, in a spontaneous lock-in style singalong with the biggest band in the universe on hand to entertain.
Coldplay have always managed to create a sense of euphoria with their anthemic pop-rock and Chris Martin's joyful frontman performance, and this is more than aided by big bucks-fuelled touches and an unashamed nod to cheesy one-liners and crowd-pleasing antics - giant 'Yellow' balloons drop from the ceiling; a magical burst of paper butterflies churn from every side of the arena and fall on the delighted crowd during 'Viva la Vida' and everyone throws their hands in the air, faces turned up towards the sky; Martin sings 'Fix You' and people are moved because let's face it, we all want someone gorgeous to write a beautiful song for us out of of love. The fact that these gestures are so genuine, and so clear is the passion for performance, mean it's impossible to stay doubtful for long about the talent of this singer-songwriter and his band.
They are preppy and clean cut; dare we say it, there is a little of U2 in the outfit, though the sweet dancing clown that is Martin is a thousand times more likeable than the lead singer of the latter. Flinging himself around like he is bouncing off a car bonnet, he excels at his piano solo of 'The Hardest Part' and during the pounding chorus of 'Clocks'. This is pop music, made because it is simple and good, loved for the same reasons. At the end a girl stoops to pick up handfuls of paper butterflies in the aisle. 'I love him', she says solemly as we pass. Whatever you think of Coldplay, they are wedged in people's own soundtracks; for now they are here to stay.
Image from Alex Bikfalvi's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.