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Coldplay and Fiona Apple ignite sold-out Key Arena crowd with passionate, vigorous performances
Coldplay and Fiona Apple ignite sold-out Key Arena crowd with passionate, vigorous performances
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Coldplay w/ Fiona Apple

January 25 @ Key Arena

Seattle concert audiences can often be a tough crowd. Reserved, unappreciative or sometimes just not interested. But at Coldplay's sold-out show last week at Key Arena, with opener Fiona Apple, the energy level c0uldn't have been any higher.

As the lights dimmed, the roar of the crowd intensified. A half-lit stage featured a curved video screen with giant numbers counting down the band's entrance. The first notes of "Square One" began. And it was all uphill from there.

Dressed in black attire from head to toe, the British quartet sounded dynamic from the get go and lead singer Chris Martin, while sporting a moppy do and a bit of facial scruff, appeared handsome and larger than life. The tall, lean frontman moved about the stage freely and excitedly like a schoolyard boy at recess.

"Politik", from the group's 2002 release A Rush of Blood to the Head, was startling. Martin plays the keyboard as if he were making love to it, thrusting himself into it and striking the notes with aggression and precision. "Yellow", the song that launched Coldplay's global success, delivered every shiver it was supposed to. And it made for an interactive game of bouncing ball as banana-colored balloons dropped from the ceiling and landed atop main floor concertgoers, who excitedly patted them around and punctured them, thus allowing glittery gold confetti to shower on everyone's heads.

The audience joined the Grammy-winning act in singing "Speed of Sound", the first hit single off last year's X & Y. Wild lighting and cool images on the video screen gave the concert a good boost, but the music itself was enough to warrant the pricey ticket. A highlight on Coldplay's set list was the inclusion of "White Shadows", one of the new album's best cuts. Performed live, it was thrilling. A fan in my row raised his arms in praise position and sang the lyrics aloud. I joined him, yet in a quieter and less obvious mode.

"The Scientist" began slow and delicate, then gradually picked up speed and strength, climaxing into a wonderful rock operatic piece. A surprise entry was "Trouble" from Coldplay's first album.

A tribute to country music pioneer Johnny Cash was unflattering. The foursome opted to chill the house with a stripped-down effect, playing two of the legend's songs acoustically and huddled in the center of the stage. "Til Kingdom Come" was sweet, at best, though "Ring of Fire" was off the mark. I'm not convinced a British rock group, even unplugged, can do Cash justice. Not this one, at least. But I do give them points for trying.

A pair of favorites closed out Coldplay's main set, "Clocks" and "Talk". Again, Martin banged away on his keyboard like there was no tomorrow. He's like this hyper child who refuses to sit still. It's cute and entertaining to watch him tilt his head, nearly sideways, as he rocks back and forth on a small bench. At one point, he arched his back and almost touched the floor with his head.

A three-song encore included a gorgeous version of "The Hardest Part" and a moving rendition of "Fix You", finishing with Martin whipping a dangling light out into the audience. During the performance, Martin referenced the Super Bowl-bound Seahawks and the overwhelming number of coffee shops in Seattle. Towards the show's finale, he snuck a line into the lyrics of a song that proposed someone with a higher power help the football team win this weekend.

Alternative music darling Fiona Apple opened the concert, gushing from being introduced by guess who? Mr. Chris Martin himself. She admitted to being partially freaked out by that during the opening number "Get Him Back", but fortunately she got over it and put on an incredible, stirring performance. Wearing an ankle-length black skirt, emerald green top and what looked to be black combat boots, Apple was electrifying to watch, and listen to.

The Grammy winner's forty five-minute set included a marvelous run-through of "Criminal", which drew a rousing response from die-hard fans sprouted throughout the arena. Even better was the live redo of "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)", which has a marvelous clunky vibe reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster". Absolutely dazzling was "Extraordinary Machine", the title track from the singer-songwriter's newest work, which really wowed the 16,000-plus in attendance. Giddy, shy, polite and very easy on the eye, Apple no doubt garnered new supporters.

Coldplay's Key Arena appearance served as the official kickoff of the group's winter/spring North American tour. The band is scheduled to perform on this week's Grammy telecast. Coldplay is nominated for three awards, including Best Rock Album.

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