Graded on a Curve: Coldplay,
Live in Buenos Aires

All of my closest friends—amongst whose number I count legendary toughwoman champion Shannon Hall, Dutch Heavyweight Boxing Champion Martijn “Vuisten van Staal” de Vries, notorious East End London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, and Stewie my cat—simply can’t comprehend my love for Coldplay. They think I’m soft. They think I bathe in violets. In short, they hold me in contempt, and aren’t afraid to let me know it. The other day I tried to put A Rush of Blood to the Head on the stereo only to get swatted by Stewie. Did I say swatted? Make that punched in the face.

But I don’t care. So what if Coldplay’s testosterone levels are less than zero? They’ve given us more rousing anthems per square inch of vinyl than Bruce Springsteen. And if you don’t believe me pick up a copy of 2018’s Live in Buenos Aires. Virtually every track is a sing-along aided and abetted by frontman Chris Martin, and that’s the LP’s only drawback—you find yourself wishing the audience would shut its collective trap and let charismatic Coldplay frontman Chris Martin go about his business in peace.

Fortunately, the crowd at the show in Buenos Aires are in perfect sync; they may well be the largest collection of backing vocalists in history, and if they couldn’t hold a tune the album would flat-out unlistenable. Fortunately, Martin doesn’t bring them on stage to sing, although he does hand over lead vocal duties to drummer Will Champion on “In My Place.”

But back to the wimp issue. There’s no denying Coldplay may be the gushiest band in the world. I’m hard pressed to think of a group with a higher romance quotient. It helps to be a blubbering sentimentalist to enjoy their music. Ask a Coldplay fan to name the band’s most romantic song and they’ll invariably reply, “All of them.” What does this say about me? Just that while I pretend to be a callous guy who thinks Killdozer’s “Free Love in Amsterdam” is the epitome of a great love song, in reality I’m a blubbering sentimentalist.

I don’t just cry when I hear “Fix You,” I break down like a little baby and crawl into the bathtub lest I ruin the living room carpet with my tears. One morning a neighbor stopped me in the hallway and asked, “Are you okay? I heard you sobbing last night, and thought maybe everyone in your extended family drowned in a cruise ship disaster.” I was so embarrassed I said, “Yes, that’s exactly what happened. I have no one now. Absolutely no one. Say, would you happen to have any vegetable cream cheese?”

To be honest I would be far less inclined to listen to Coldplay if they were nothing more than a pretty melody. But they also happen to be a rock band and a pretty good one at that, although they hardly advertise the fact. Poke fun at Chris Martin, but he’s no James Taylor, and the guys behind him are anything but soft rock milksops.

Coldplay’s rhythm section lends songs like “Yellow,” “Paradise,” and the cover of the Argentinian band Soda Stereo’s “De Música Ligera” real muscle, and Jonny Buckland’s guitar gives songs like “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” a U2 kick. More importantly, I can’t think of a band with a better knack for building to the big climax—both “Fix You” and “The Scientist” begin on a quiet note only to work up to catharses rivaling that of Withnail and I.

Mock my love for Coldplay if you will—everybody I know does—but do so at your own peril. We mushy romantic types have fists just like everybody else, and we’re not afraid to use them. The only difference is we’ll be sobbing in beat to “The Scientist” as we’re bloodying your nose. Have your doubts? Rumor has it Chris Martin has started his own Fight Club, and administered an invigorating beating to Jason Statham just a week ago. You’ve been warned.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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