Coldplay - Harlow Square - 25/5/00
30 Jan 2004
the now-huge uk band - just before stardom.
In general, one of the UK's most foremost of provinces, Essex, doesn't award itself many alt-shows. Sure, there are the V festivals (held at Chelmsford Hylands Park) and the minor Colchester Arts Centre, plus the odd Southend Cliffs Pavilion show here and there, but for such a large region of Blighty, it could certainly do with more.
Which is why the Harlow Square should be more commonly used: small, but clean (a rarity on the toilet-circuit) and with seating-areas. The Essex-born Steve Lamacq undoubtedly made the decision for the English show to be held here tonight, for Radio One's special 'Evening Session' link-up to the other three regions (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) in a four-hour broadcast. However, it's encouraging that Lamacq actually managed to get back in this place; he was barred from it years back after getting so sloshed that he set off a fire-extinguisher (as you do). Anyway, amongst other performers for this special event, there's Manchild and King Adora, but Coldplay were always the biggest name of the batch to be performing in the event.
That said, they still aren't huge yet. Despite top-40 status and press-people trying to cling on to their bosom, Coldplay still have a lot to prove; they can't be described as 'a bit like Travis' for the rest of their career, you know. Well, if this show tonight is anything to go by, they won't have to be compared to their contemporaries to have their sound described, the way things are headed.
But, because they're not massive yet, we still get to name-check similar song-smiths to the indie quartet, much to predictably the band's hate. Obviously then, it would be impossible to leave Jeff Buckley out of the equation - but at least lead-singer Chris Martin, the piano-tinkling and acoustic-strumming frontman, has a good chance of achieving such legendary status; his voice hovers across floaty guitars whilst gently drawling whimsical lyrics, but he manages to radiate enough charisma to keep the live-set electric and buzzing throughout. Their debut single 'Shiver' is a standout moment. Maybe it's just because it was their debut single and everyone here knows it, but maybe it's also because it's a mind-swirling journey through haunting vocals and gently sweeping, rhythmic grace, delivered in enough emotion to send all hearts-a-flutter... Yes, that's probably it. Otherwise, new single 'Yellow' sounds nervous breakdown-inducing for its genius, as do 'Spies' and 'Don't Panic', but, then again, as album 'Parachutes' will prove, all of it's good stuff.
For sure, there's an excitingly strong consistency in their work that won't get unnoticed when it comes to the hacks reviewing their first full-length, which has a planned shop-shelving for July. The public will want to get in on this as well. Yes, Coldplay could be the stars of 2000. At least the few tonight can say that they saw it happen with just a couple of hundred other people amidst such small and cosy premises. That will soon change, though. Calling 2002 Glastonbury Festival/Pyramid Stage Top Slot, your search for a headline act is now over.
Photo: A Still From 'Don't Panic' Video