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Hot in Here

Britain's Coldplay gets a warm stateside reception

By Yoshi Kato

WHEN COLDPLAY became the first Shoreline concert announced for the 2003 summer season, the choice seemed an odd one. To its credit, the brainy British modern-rock quartet did sell out the Greek Theatre in Berkeley the previous September. Its debut album, Parachutes, won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Alternative Music Performance. And "In My Place," the first single off the band's sophomore album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, had received respectable airplay at that point.

But news of the Shoreline date, announced last February, came two weeks before Rush of Blood garnered the band two more Grammys--one for Best Alternative Album and another for Best Rock Performance by a Group or Duo. Like many thoughtful artists, Coldplay looked to be richer in respect and admiration than in mass popularity. So the idea of these sensitive yet passionate rockers filling up Shoreline's vast spaces appeared a bit far-fetched.

Fast forward to May, and any concern for empty seats turns out to be entirely unfounded. Only general-admission tickets remain, and Coldplay is one of the biggest sellers of the summer.

For quick proof of the Bay Area's love of the group, one only need go back a few Friday evenings. Jumping up the dial from Alice-FM (97.3) to KFOG-AM (104.5), one could hear "Yellow," Coldplay's breakthrough hit, played right before the "The Scientist," from Rush of Blood. Later that night, Mix 106.5 also gave "Yellow" a spin. On another night, one could catch two other Rush of Blood tracks in a row on different stations--"Clocks" on Channel 104.9-FM just before "In My Place" on KFOG.

The catchy, piano-driven "Clocks" has moved from the radio into other realms of popular culture. The song was used at the close of the recent Ed Burns-Rachel Weisz film Confidence, and it also provided a memorable musical backdrop for the video tribute that the San Francisco Giants put together for ex-manager Dusty Baker's homecoming game last month at PacBell Park.

"They have potential to hang around for a long time," says Haley Jones, KFOG assistant program director. KFOG first added "Yellow" to its playlist in December 2000 and has aired seven other Coldplay songs since then. The station will carry a live broadcast from 9 to 11pm of Coldplay's concert Saturday night at the Hollywood Bowl.

"They're smart adult rock," she continues. "They're not too hard, and they're not too soft. They're perfect."

Coldplay's balance of sonic elements is best represented by singer Chris Martin's effortless switching between guitar and piano. His unwavering strumming provides an underpinning for lead guitarist Jon Buckland's impassioned lines on "Yellow." On "Trouble," Martin lays into reflective pianist mode as bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion provide empathic accompaniment in kind over Buckland's fluid, skyward playing.

Another reason for Coldplay's success is that it did itself and its fans a favor by creating a worthy successor to Parachutes, which was a strong effort with some album tracks sounding as well-crafted as the singles around them. Rush of Blood's opening five tracks have all gotten airplay and are so strong that some listeners never get past them to hear the album's other six songs--which is a shame, since the countrified "Green Eyes," the quite politically driven title track and the quietly lovely "Amsterdam" all come in the second half of the disc.

"It's really been quite surprising, the level of response we've gotten from you guys," Berryman said, in a phone interview from early 2001. Judging from the love Coldplay has been receiving from radio and the anticipated enthusiasm of the Shoreline crowd, the adoration has clearly yet to wane.

Coldplay, Eisley and Ron Sexsmith perform Friday (May 30) at 8pm at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Tickets are $25-$39.50 (408.998.TIXS). There will also be a private Coldplay performance at the Edge (260 California Ave., Palo Alto) on Friday afternoon for Channel 104.9 listeners. Tune in to Channel 104.9 for details.

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From the May 29-June 4, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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