The Arena At Gwinnett
Duluth, GA





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Coldplay took the stage of Gwinnett’s newly opened arena with the pounding opening of “Politick.” Front man Chris Martin alternated crooning with pummeling the piano. Blue ambient back lighting swirled around the sold out crowd and turned the venue into an aquarium. Every time the repeated “Open up your eyes” phrase appeared, strobes simulated lightning and turned the peaceful aquarium into a rough, stormy sea. Ironically, the last time they were scheduled to play in Atlanta, an actual storm destroyed the out door set up so the show never happened. The time before that, they had to cancel because of the storm now known as 9-11 when they couldn’t fly to America to perform. All that made this show extra sweet. As the band found “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face,” though, skies were beautiful and clear. Gorgeous, McCartney worthy melodies soothed and smoothed the wounds of the times we now inhabit. Without making any overt political statements (other than the “Make Trade Fair” scrawled in chalk on the piano), the band’s songs crystallized the feelings of many of those in attendance. Like U2 before them, Coldplay’s songs seem so universal and deeply transcendent that there’s always solace there, no matter how desperate things get. “I’m going to buy a gun and start a war if you can tell me something worth fighting for” moved over the crowd like a rippling wave during “A Rush Of Blood To The Head.” Even less pointed lyrics like “I was scared, tired and under prepared, but I’ll wait for it” felt like they hinted at more. Obviously, I wasn’t alone in these feelings as every person in there sang along with “How long must you wait for this?”

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“Don’t Panic” seemed wistful and even more poignantly melancholic. “All of us are done for…and we live in a beautiful world.” The most timeless moment of all, however, came in “Everything’s Not Lost.” The dramatic, gospel feel was lightened by Chris Martin’s sight of himself on a video screen with his new, super short shorn haircut that inspired the ad lib “When you cut your own hair with scissors, I look really stupid on this big screen, I’m hoping everything’s not lost.” With a huge smile, Martin then led the full house through a beautiful sing a long that completely blew away the recorded version. After this, even a more rocking than expected “Yellow” was a little anticlimactic. They remedied that soon enough. To end the main set, the singer profusely thanked the patient Atlanta Coldplay fans for all they have endured to try to see the band over the past few years. Then he said, “We were trying to think of a way to reward Atlanta. All that we could think of was to have the greatest piano player in the world come out and play on “Trouble.” Ladies and gentlemen…Sir Elton John!”

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The place obviously went crazy as Elton strolled out of the wings with a wide smile. He took his place behind the ivories and set the band off with that simply beautiful little riff. It was joyous, sensitive and healing. That’s the essence of Coldplay. Suddenly, all of the waiting was more than worth it. As a final encore, Chris Martin came out alone to the piano and played a super sweet version of “Georgia On My Mind” to the blissed out crowd, leaving us singing to ourselves all the way to our cars. That’s the way it should be. This was the first truly great show of 2003…and it was so much closer to home.

(Chris McKay/

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