This article originally appeared on the peerless (yet now sadly defunct) Gobshout.com. It's owners are now Suburban Tarts, who should be visited post-haste...
It is often tempting (for some) to dismiss Coldplay out of hand, to bemoan them as somehow cashing in on a wave of middle-of-the-road sound. But it is when seen live that Coldplay really come into their own, and tonight proves that point and then some.
Coldplay are a band who have truly grown into the stadium-filling status that they now hold. Now on their fourth hit-laden album, they have reached a point where established hits such as Yellow no longer need to be left until the encore. Rather, they are able to fill this vast (but acoustically excellent; but I digress) space with light, sound and colour from start to finish. Hit follows hit follows hit, and warmth pours off the stage throughout. Any band who can make a 20,000-seat concrete arena feel like the UCL Student's Union is clearly doing something right.
The new material tonight is already six months old and well-established in the brains of those present, but it is still a wonderful experience to be treated to Strawberry Swing, Violet Hill and (perhaps the highlight) Death and All His Friends, alongside established hits such as Fix You, Politik and The Scientist. Already, it would be impossible for anyone walking in off the street to tell the new material from the previous hits. Still as humble as ever he was, Chris Martin regularly acknowledges the cheering masses with a wave and mumbled thanks. He's had the misfortune (if you can call it that) to become a massive rockstar without developing either a drug addiction or a serious personality disorder, and for this he is often cast aside by the more image-concious sections of the music press. Wrongly.
At one point, the band walk down from the stage and through a rapturously cheering crowd to take up residence half-way up the lower tier of seats. They subsequently perform an acoustic version of Green Eyes, with a guest harmonica solo from Simon Pegg. As the final notes die away, there is a completely euphoric moment, and I realise I am grinning like a moron. So are the band. So is everyone else in the O2. The feeling of camaraderie, that everyone is part of this, is palpable. Long live this kind of thing, if you ask me.