Coldplay The Backyard, June 11

Live Shots

Coldplay

The Backyard, June 11

Five years from now, Coldplay will either be selling out arenas or rank among the decade's great could've-beens. But never mind the future, because for 75 minutes at the Backyard, the London quartet was by turns luscious, brooding, majestic, despondent, a bit irked, and when they broke into -- of all things -- Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" for the final encore, unforgettable. Frontman Chris Martin said something to the effect of, "We wanted to learn a song people in Texas would know," and when his three bandmates joined him after the first verse -- Will Champion hammering his drums like he suddenly joined Social Distortion -- the 26-year-old Brit stepped up and invested Williams' ageless lament of youth gone to seed with the commanding swagger of the Lonesome Drifter's actual grandson. Indeed, Martin was hard to look away from all evening, whether flailing about with his acoustic guitar on fast-flowing waltz "Shiver," or crooning "Everything's Not Lost" at the piano like Paul McCartney by way of Blur's "Tender Is the Night." Save the odd lapse into shoegazing somnambulence, the music was equally compelling; as guitarist Jonny Buckland peeled off whale-song leads and the stage shimmered in aqua light, "Spies" felt like an underwater revisitation of The Bends, while one of four songs not on first and only LP Parachutes crossed a Kinksy guitar buzz with a sinister Nirvana undertow in Guy Berryman's bass. Martin introduced another new one as "the first song I wrote on electric guitar, because we want to be a rock band like Bon Jovi." It's true: Coldplay hardly give love a bad name. Martin even extended his dedication of hit single "Yellow" to an extremely irksome one-man mosh pit down front -- after properly labeling him a "twat." Any animosity evaporated with the first chords of the sprawling melody, and the foursome's thickly textured swoon slowed time to a crawl. Every change, every thwack of Champion's kickdrum, every self-prostrating lyric ("for you I'd bleed myself dry") seemed suspended in the ambient amber glow. It was completely magical, a moment so perfect it was impossible not to think that, if they get a few more breaks, one day Coldplay could be completely huge. As big as, say, Bon Jovi.

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