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What I’m listening to this week: Coldplay

May 29, 2009

LeftRightLeftRightLeft – 2009

I’ve discussed several times on my blog about how much I love Coldplay, so it won’t be a surprise to you that I also love their new, FREE live album, LeftRightLeftRightLeft.  The band is giving away a physical copy of the album at each concert they play this summer, plus it is available for download on their website.

I actually listened to the album for the first time the day it was officially released, but this week was the first time I listened to it more than once.  LeftRightLeftRightLeft is a terrific example of how dynamic the band is live and there are many impressive performances.  Coldplay chose songs that they hadn’t already released a live version of, so LRLRL represents an eclectic mix of their repertoire, but of course including some of their biggest hits (“Clocks”, “Fix You”) as well.

The opener, “Glass of Water”, is a cut from the Prospekt’s March EP, a relatively new addition to their live set list and a great way to begin the album.  It’s one of the loudest and boldest Coldplay songs ever, and it sounds bigger and better live.  Another highlight is “Strawberry Swing”, from 2008’s Viva La Vida, a song that can sometimes fade behind the drama of the other VLV songs on the album, but live, comes to life with an sweet, dancing guitar riff and nuanced vocals.

One thing that’s perfectly apparent on LeftRightLeftRightLeft is how capable and charming Chris Martin is as a frontman.  Not that I’ve ever doubted that, but LRLRL is sure to sway some of his detractors.  His frequent habits of asking how the audience is doing, subtly changing words to his songs, and ability to interact with the crowd all stand out clearly.  And if that isn’t enough, he skillfully combines “The Hardest Part/Postcards From Far Away” (one of the more languid songs from 2005’s X&Y and a piano piece from Prospekt’s March) into a gorgeous acoustic set in the middle of the show that not only showcases his control over his warm, emotive, and expressive vocal instrument, but also his truly moving piano playing.

“Viva La Vida” is one of the best pop songs written in recent years, and it’s also better live; more exciting, engaging, and performed perfectly on LeftRightLeftRightLeftLRLRL ends in as dramatic a fashion as it begins with “Death and All His Friends” (also the album closer to Viva La Vida) a song that starts with Chris Martin on piano singing softly, and finishes finding the entire band chanting in unison over the big musical crescendo.

With LeftRightLeftRightLeft being FREE and all, there’s absolutely no reason not to get this album.  If it’s your first Coldplay album, you’ll find a band performing at it’s best, and if you’re a fan and haven’t been to see them yet (and have been hiding in a hole for about a year now) you’ll be thrilled to see how much more powerful the band is in all aspects: vocally, musically, and lyrically.

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