Coldplay's world tour off to solid start

Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:23pm EDT
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By Darryl Morden

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Coldplay is striving for arena-rock epic greatness, but it's not there yet.

Still, the British band turned in a solid performance, with only a few misfires, in launching its world tour Monday night at the Forum arena in Inglewood.

The quartet is good; it's just not consistently great. There's a lot of heart but little wallop, and that's where the group came up short.

Coldplay certainly has all the right elements: a personable frontman in singer Chris Martin, inventive guitar work from Johnny Buckland and a skillful rhythm section in bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion. Add a knack for warm-and-fuzzy songs and a social conscience (reps from Oxfam America were on site), and it should all add up.

Despite some free concerts in June that served as warm-up shows, the band was in work-out-the-kinks mode Monday. The Forum isn't known for pristine sound -- far from it -- but technology has improved, and yet the mix was surprisingly muddy, even shrill at times.

There was some gimmicky staging, with lasers right out of 1978 and dangling video globes and raining confetti that seemed more suited to the Hannah Montana set than Coldplay's adult audience, which also was heavily female.

The nearly 90-minute show kicked off with the instrumental "Life in Technicolor," which leads off Coldplay's chart-topping new album "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends" (Capitol). But the song is all buildup with no payoff, music in search of a film soundtrack. The band followed with the McCartneyesque current single "Violet Hill," which gave way to a gliding rendition of the older "Clocks" and head-bobbing "In My Place."

Frequently employing backing tracks -- they couldn't just recruit a tour keyboardist? -- allowed Martin to work the crowd with his spastic hopping about, the entire band making good use of catwalks jutting from each side of the stage into the arena floor.   Continued...

<p>Chris Martin of Coldplay performs at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>