Last Friday (8/02), Coldplay and MTV2 rolled through town, packing Chicago's Vic theater to capacity with the latest installment of the cable network's $2Bill concert series. After a quick walk from the office to the venue and a brief wait outside in the high 90-degree weather, I stepped into the Vic, hit the bar, picked a prime viewing spot, and tossed anchor to await what was to become a one-of-a-kind show.
For those that don't know, the MTV2 $2Bill concert series takes place on the second of every month and features a hot band (The Strokes, The Hives) in an intimate setting, doing their thing for a national audience. It is dubbed the $2Bill because tickets for the show actually cost two dollars, giving local Chicagoans no excuse whatsoever to miss the event.
The show got underway promptly at 7:00pm with a superb rendition of "Politik" that ignited the already pumped up crowd and gave me my first glimpse of Chris Martin's dynamic stage presence. Chris twitched, stomped and convulsed as he sat hammering out chords on his piano, egging on the crowd's hoots and hollers. He grabbed his acoustic guitar next for "God Put A Smile On My Face," one of my favorite songs on the band's forthcoming album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and continued his high-energy assault. The band continued to impress as the night wore on with crowd-pleasing renditions of their two huge singles from 2000's Parachutes, "Yellow" and "Trouble." Coldplay also hit their first single from Rush, "In My Place," which was definitely performed to perfection.
All the while, MTV2's airborne camera was maneuvering back and forth across the crowd, and, I suppose for the benefit of TV, huge floodlights hanging above the stage lit the audience for the extent of the show. These were a bit hard to get used to and a bit uncomfortable to look at, but thankfully with all of the other excitement, they were only a minor nuisance. The major disturbance in the show, which turned out to be a great blessing for the fans, was the fact that MTV2 lost their connection with NYC headquarters, and an station staffer was forced to interrupt Martin just as he mentioned that they were to play the final song of the evening. This entertaining disturbance was met with boos, cheers, and laughs from the audience, but Martin played it off to perfection. After they came to the realization that it was going to be some time before contact was re-established, he sat down at his piano, began tickling the ivories and broke into a mock rendition of Nelly's "Hot in Here." He then continued on to introduce the band as Elton John, Eddie Vedder, and Phil Collins. Martin continued to play the role of good sport, saying, "Hell, we're going to play some old songs," inviting a rabid fan to come up on stage to introduce another Parachute track, "Shiver." Coldplay nailed the song, as they had been doing all night, and got another huge response from the fans, who were more than happy to prolong their time with their favorite Brit-rockers.
A few songs later, one a crowd request, MTV2 got the bugs worked out and the night was back on track. The band was forced to perform "The Scientist" for the second time, but they, as well as the crowd, were in surprisingly good spirits about the whole thing. The MTV2 broadcast came to a close with the hidden track off of Parachutes (whatever it's called) and many thanks from the band. Martin walked off saying, "Thanks so much to everyone for coming, I hope you got your two dollars' worth."
Thankfully, Coldplay wasn't finished with us yet. They returned to rock a sweet Echo & the Bunnymen cover, "Lips Like Sugar," got the crowd singing the chorus during "Everything's Not Lost" and were coaxed into an encore by 15 minutes of chants for "COLDPLAY, COLDPLAY, COLDPLAY.
The evening was terrific. Coldplay, who I was already extremely fond of, successfully blew my mind and unleashed a live show that was more energetic, aggressive, and dynamic than I could have ever hoped for. This was not a chill out show. It wasn't punk rock, but it wasn't the mellow evening I had imagined. I highly recommend going to see them this summer. By the way, did anyone see me on TV? Hi Mom!
Coldplay $2Bill Set List:
"God Put A Smile On My Face"
"In My Place"
Loss of Feed with NYC
"Hot in Here" (Nelly cover)
"Lips Like Sugar" (Echo & the Bunnymen cover)
"Everything's Not Lost"
New Song (don't have title)