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30 July 2000

Songwriters Festival
Birmingham, Ronnie Scott's

Review by Jon Perks

8/6/00 UK: REVIEW - HOT COLDPLAY DELIVER NIGHT TO REMEMBER. WHEN there had been 200 phone inquiries on one day alone, to say the Coldplay gig was a sell-out is a bit of an understatement.
It's no exaggeration to say they could have got Symphony Hall and that would have been too small.

Booked for the Songwriters' Festival months before their debut album Parachutes landed at No 1 and the band became the music scene's favourite foursome, this was always going to be a one-off - one of those nights you'd give anything to say: 'I was there'.

It wasn't just Coldplay who made the night, though. Aussie Mick Hart and local songbird Carina Round both delivered blistering sets with their individual brands of tortured soul songwriting. The latter was a revelation in a band format.

Then it was the moment we'd been waiting weeks for. Chris Martin and friends bounded on stage, grinning from ear to ear, genuinely looking as if they were loving every minute of their new-found fame. 'We've never done this before and we'll never do it again - we're going to play the album acoustically straight through from start to finish,' said Martin - and they did exactly that.

It didn't matter that you knew exactly what was coming next. Every song was as beautiful and delicate as on record, Martin beaming as each one ended. Someone in the crowd called out.

'Sorry, you can't talk to us - we're a No 1 band,' smiled Chris, showing that none of the media attention or money has gone to their young heads. The highlights were, oddly, not the singles. As great as Yellow and Shiver were, it was Trouble (with Chris on piano) and the eerie Spies that took top honours. The fans were respectfully silent throughout, probably a blend of awe and realisation they were the lucky few witnessing something really special. If there's a bootleg of this gig, put me down for one.

Originally printed in the Birmingham Sunday Mercury on 6th August 2000

Review by Steve Adams


As luck or irony would have it, the first Sabbath of this year's Songwriters festival delivered passion in a variety of guises.

Opener Mick Hart has it in bundles but hardly knows what to do with it, judging by a frenzied but fairly aimless performance full of histrionic vocals and thrashing guitars that provided little in the way of substance or satisfaction. Carina Round has never shied away from singing exactly what she thinks and feels and her outstanding vocal range always makes compelling entertainment. That said, while she can be affecting, her performances - like those of her apparent mentor Tori Amos - often border on affected, and the apparent sincerity and depth of it all can quickly become wearying.

Coldplay make a very happy medium. This year's Travis (only even younger), they wear their passion on their sleeves but make no big song and dance about it. Actually, that's not quite accurate - they make the song but not the dance, as the glorious debut album Parachutes and understated live performances confirm. The songs and singer Chris Martin's delivery may be intense, but the band have a genuine 'feelgood' factor that ensures nothing and no-one is taken too seriously in the live arena.

A brave move for any supposedly alternative rock band - matched on this occasion by the decision to play the entire debut album acoustically (and in order) - and another factor that could go a long way to ensuring that Coldplay's recent and well-deserved success is no flash in the pan.

Originally printed in the Birmingham Post on 1st August 2000