Last Night: Coldplay, Shearwater, Jon Hopkins @ The Forum

By Andrew Youssef

Better Than: Watching the video for "Viva La Vida" on your new iphone.

Download: Previously unreleased track "Death Will Never Conquer" from the Coldplay.com

It's fitting that the Forum is primarily used as a church these days, with the occasional concert scheduled for variety. Coldplay descended upon the Forum preaching their own gospel as they launched the Viva La Vida tour to a sold-out crowd of faithful worshipers.

Jon Hopkins warmed up the crowd with his washes of textural ambient soundscapes, which fell into the same vein as Air, M83 and Ulrich Schnauss. Jon was hunched over his laptops while occasionally triggering samples on a Korg Microkontrol Midi keyboard.

Austin, Texas' Shearwater crept through a toned-down set that featured instruments like banjo and melodica. If you're curious to check them out, they'll be playing at Fingerprints Records in Long Beach July 16.

A prolonged delay was quickly forgotten as the propulsive lead-off track from Viva La Vida, "Life In Technicolor," kicked things off. Green lasers and the characteristic piano jangle of "Clocks" stirred the crowd out of their chairs as the hit parade started to warm up. The ubiquitous iPod commercial "Viva La Vida" provided a spine-tingling moment, as Chris Martin led the crowd through a gigantic sing-along and Will Champion pounded away on a miniature liberty bell.

"The Scientist" followed by a retooled "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face" knocked off most of my favorite tunes from Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head. Guy Berryman was methodically laying down the bass foundation all night without missing a note. But Jonny Buckland is Coldplay's secret weapon, as his skillful guitar parts are integral to their overall sound. Chris tapped into his usual self-deprecating humor throughout the night. He cautioned the crowd that "Speed of Sound" was probably going to sound like rubbish, but it actually never sounded better.

"Yellow" was another high point of the night as the band sprinted to "the cheap seats" in the upper colonnade to perform an electrifying acoustic version of the song. Champion channeled Phil Collins as a singing drummer on "Death Will Never Conquer." I was slightly disappointed that Coldplay didn't do the Kraftwerk-influenced song "Talk," but the band did manage to work in a bit of the remix version inbetween songs. "Lovers in Japan" was another arena-blazer as the confetti fell from the rafters as Chris continued to twirl across the stage. Viva La Coldplay!

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I have a guitar pick from Chris Martin that I acquired during a show in Las Vegas when they played at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Random Detail: They were selling Coldplay bibs. Now that's merchandising.

By The Way: I didn't see Gwyneth Paltrow, in case you were wondering.



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