Reviewed at Dingwalls, Camden
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In September 2000 I returned to Blighty having spent the summer uni break working in the US of A. With the pounds piled on and Big Pimpin' ringing in my ears it didn't take me long to notice that a lot had happened in my three months away – seismic cultural events that would lead to some of the most pressing questions of the naughties. Can gold lamé resurrect a career? Is it socially acceptable to pleasure yourself on a wine bottle? And what the f*ck is a macro-biotic diet?
Yes – Big Brother had gripped the nation, Kylie had made a floor-filling comeback, and a new band had emerged with a song that everyone was talking about.
Whilst the first two left me baffled for days (so, they have cameras filming them? Like, ALL the time? And people are dancing to Kylie? To a song that isn't Locomotion in a place that isn't the Skool Disco?) – as soon as I saw a geeky guy striding along a beach singing about yellow omnipotence, I got it. After weeks of frat rock Hersheys, this was musical Cadbury's.
Flash-forward to 2011 to a very special Radio 2 in Concert recording, and the geeky guy is on stage at the venue where, in 1998, he and his band Coldplay performed their first ever live gig. "We were better 14 years ago!" he jokes, when the intimacy of the tiny Dingwalls in Camden takes them a bit of getting used to after all those in-between years of sell-out stadiums.
During their first track, Mylo Xyloto/Hurts Like Heaven, I found myself wondering if I even really liked Coldplay anymore. I haven't bought their most recent album, haven't gone out of my way to see them live for years, and can't remember the last time I listened to their stuff. Somewhere in the midst of these thoughts, the riff of Yellow kicked in, and I was whipped right back to 2000. To uni days, my trusty Discman, teenage love, teenage tears, some of the best and worst (it felt like it at the time) times of my life.
More memories followed: In My Place, God Put a Smile Upon Your Face, Clocks and The Scientist was being on the cusp of responsibility, finishing uni but clinging on to beloved Sheffield days, and finally leaving for London-living and working life. Fix You was a moment in the (then) recently reopened Koko in Camden at the X&Y album launch, getting goose-bumps on hearing the song for the very first time, live, two metres from the stage. What If was huddled at Glastonbury with best friends, happy, high on life, and so desperate for a wee and determined not to leave the stage some serious improvisation took place. And Viva La Vida was romantic days on a road-trip through the South of France, whacking out drum beats on the steering wheel and singing about revolution.
Then came the irritatingly catchy and rousing new single, Paradise, and my nostalgia turned to sadness. Those days are gone, and this is now. Chris, Will, the one who looks a bit like Will, and the one who wouldn't look out of place in a boy band have conquered the charts, the world, marriage, kids, even a Hollywood star. They've won awards, campaigned for charities, named their kids after fruit and – to bring it full circle, Yellow has collided with Big Pimpin' in a rather unlikely Chris Martin / Jay-Z collaboration and friendship. Don't get me wrong, I kind of love Paradise (I'm a sucker for a key-change), but I couldn't help thinking that they've moved on, and - looking round the audience of mostly men in their late 30s/early 40s – that maybe I had too.
Ending with the foot-stamping Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, I had the thought that this could be my last Coldplay 'moment'. But what an emotional moment it was. And, as with any break-up, I know at least I'll always have the memories. And for that, Coldplay (and Radio 2), I thank you.
Radio 2 In Concert with Coldplay will be broadcast on Thursday 15 December from 8pm-10pm. From 10pm, it will be available to watch via Red Button on TV for a week.
Words: Lyndsey Honour
Photo: Mark Allen