REVIEW: A rush of blood to the head
THE DOWNBEAT - DLS Pineda (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2017 - 12:00am

I am writing this with my wrist tag still strapped around my right arm, the morning after the concert. Coldplay left me with a feeling similar to the lull one feels on the trip back home after wasting a long weekend away, out of town. After all the noise, the jumping, the dancing, the crying, the singing along, I wonder if the last star-shaped confetti had fallen to the ground. Or is it still gliding around, enjoying the sunset in Manila Bay? The Coldplay I now have performing in my head sounds as spectacular, as intense, as when I finally heard them, saw them, play live last night. It was one of the best nights of my life, a real everglow.

As it was for many who were present, watching the band was a personal affair. I grew up with Coldplay. As a fifth grader, I bought a cassette tape of “Parachutes” from a record store at Shangri-La, clueless about the band, though I knew how some of their songs sounded. I had to sing what I remembered from Yellow for the sales clerk to tell what I was looking for. Luckily, he recognized the song from my poor singing and handed me my first copy of “Parachutes.” I had to return it, however, because I thought the unlabeled bonus track at the end, Life is for Living, had been deleted by mistake. It sprang out of nowhere though, in poor quality too, more than 20 seconds after the last note of the last track, Everything’s Not Lost. I received a replacement only to find that “the error” was still there. I would only be able to confirm that it was not a factory defect several years later, when I had saved enough allowance to buy a CD copy of my own.

I would spend afternoons waiting for their music videos to come on TV — the paper animation for Don’t Panic was a favorite. In my desire to have as much Coldplay “merchandise” as possible, I recorded their music videos on blank cassette tapes, knowing fully well that I would only capture their audio. I felt betrayed when I found out, through my subscription to their mailing list, that they had made two music videos for Trouble and I had only recorded one. I abandoned the cause altogether and recorded, instead, audio from episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory and Cow & Chicken.

When Coldplay first became Channel [V]’s Spotlight artist, I recorded two of their early live performances. I remember one was at an open-air concert in Australia where they serenaded the crowd with their slow ballad, Sparks, even while concertgoers bounced multicolored beach balls around, wore bright tank tops and spaghetti straps, and waved flags. A young Guy Berryman played the bass sitting down on the floor. Another concert was at a dark, indoor venue where the globe on the cover of “Parachutes” was the centerpiece, lit yellow and placed on top of Chris’s piano. All four of them wore black, their shirtsleeves long, with collars up to the bumps on their necks. It was the first time I heard See You Soon and was immediately entranced, though it frustrated me because I couldn’t oído it out on the guitar. I couldn’t find tabs online either, so I never got to play it.

Politik

Then I saw them play Politik at the 2003 Grammys with Chris Martin looking possessed and deranged during the solo. I remember thinking that this band was the realest, coolest band in my small tape collection — sophisticated, edgy, and at their heart was a very un-rock instrument: piano. I knew many would disagree; everyone loved Linkin Park back then. In school, I would draw the logo of Make Trade Fair — two parallel, black rectangular blocks forming an equals sign — at the back of my left hand because Chris Martin had kept one drawn on his. My first band ever, a five-piece consisting of grade seven students, played In My Place as our staple number; it had the plainest sounding guitar solo and a simple enough drum pattern. At a wedding last year where I was best man, my friends and I assembled a band and played Shiver for the bride and groom. I play the exact same Fender P-bass as Guy’s.

In Coldplay’s e-Zines more than a decade ago, they announced tour dates and had behind-the-scenes write-ups for their music videos. After reading about how they shot the video for The Scientist, I argued with people who said that it was all computer effects, that Chris Martin’s mouth was simply pasted on as he walked backwards. At that point of my fanboying, I wondered if I would ever get to watch them live. Eventually, I lost my tape recordings. The spaces they once occupied on my shelf are now taken up by CDs and live DVDs of “X&Y,” “Viva La Vida + Prospekt’s March,” “Mylo Xyloto,” “Ghost Stories,” “A Head Full of Dreams” and butterfly cutouts sent by friends from Canada who had caught them when they watched the band play in Vancouver in 2008.

True Love

Coldplay has an uncanny ability to toy with emotions, sending our “feelings” flying from one end of the spectrum to another, to another, to another. It is, perhaps, this ability that makes their songs and the band feel so familiar. Without the need to buy exclusive merch, or the need to read authorized biographies or exclusive interviews, or the need to collect limited-edition figurines, we feel like we know them so well. We have let them in so deep in our hearts, our lives, through their songs, that seeing them play right in front of you feels like a meeting of both our inner and outer selves. The Scientist, Fix You, Always in My Head, Magic and Yellow tore me apart; Adventure of a Lifetime, Viva La Vida, Charlie Brown, Birds, Clocks and Up&Up lifted my spirits up. Ink, ranked 71st out of 79 on my list of Coldplay’s studio album songs, was profoundly beautiful last night as it was dedicated to Ken Santiago, a cancer warrior and UP Med student.

Coldplay last night was different from the one I grew up with. Chris, Will, Jonny and Guy in A Head Full of Dreams were far from the boys clad in black, and many see this as a mistake. In my ranking of all the songs on their studio albums, the top 30 is populated by songs from the four earlier albums though, noticeably, three of them come from the more recent two. All the more Coldplay felt like actual friends to me: they change with the times, and have a tendency to drift apart from my life once in a while. And that’s okay. Playing music, or finding, making and controlling your own sound in this world that’s constantly in flux, can’t always be so clear-cut. What separates Coldplay from so many pop/rock bands today is that they are an entity with a vision of their own and a drive to power through with it.

This morning, I watched videos by friends from the concert last night. Maan, Shaneen and Rad, Lean and Karina, my date and I, and a dozen other friends who were there, even Fame who decided to watch here instead, were all slumped and hungover, and I honestly don’t know exactly when and how we’ll pick ourselves up. Coldplay left us with a constellation of stars, of moments of love, of love, of love.

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Tweet the author @sarhentosilly.

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