Coldplay / Fiona Apple
Key Arena; Seattle, WA


That's all I heard as Coldplay took the stage. Girls' screams were enveloping
me, and I knew there was no escape. At first I was reminded of ancient horror
movies and the thoughts that go through the victim's mind before the screams
finally subside into gruesome death, but somehow I escaped the bloodbath. Of
course, another thought came into my mind: This must be what the Merry
Prankster felt during their ill-fated journey to see the Beatles. Somehow the
music isn't as important as making sure your girlish scream is the loudest and
you prove your fandom above all others.

I should state that I had no intentions of ever seeing Coldplay—at least not
in this setting—but considering I have a lady who happens to love Coldplay and
I can easily tolerate them, I bit the bullet and figured that at worst I could
tap my foot along to "Clocks" and chalk up the evening to a learning
experience. Thankfully we got our money's worth when Fiona Apple was announced
as the opener. That's all I needed to change my attitude.

Of course, how would Apple's intimacy translate with an arena audience? Very
well in all fairness, so much so that she even had to acknowledge as much.
Apple started off her opening slot with a couple of tracks from her latest, Extraordinary
, before erupting into old classics such as "Shadowboxer,"
"Criminal," and "Paper Bag." What amazed me is how animated and happy she was
during the whole set, either energized by the beaming crowd or the warming
introduction given to her by Chris Martin. Apple's greatest strength was
making up for her raspy and overworked vocals by putting in an emotional and
soulful performance. After sprinkling a few more tracks from her latest album,
she closed the set with a frantic and bouncy version of "Fast as You Can." She
had won me over all over again.

I wish I could say the same for Coldplay, but it's not for a lack of trying.
Say what you will about the value of X & Y, but tracks such as "Square
One" and "Talk" thrive in the live setting much more than the album could
capture. However, the light show was too much to bear. For fear of seizures
and burnt retinas, most people turned away from the hectic and oft-changing
lights. They blinded the crowd from actually seeing the show. Even when Coldplay turned down the lights to perform a set of "Til Kingdom Comes,"
"Trouble," and a butchered version of "Ring of Fire," it was too late. Most of
the crowd was ready to be done with the whole production. Coldplay's folly
lies in their acceptance of U2's crown, and the spectacle has certainly
overshadowed the music, no matter how many acoustic breaks they throw into the

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