For anyone who ever doubted Coldplay’s musical authenticity, this CD/DVD combo is a firm “What were you thinking?!” slap across the face. As everyone else who was with Coldplay all along should know, Live 2003 represents the culmination of their career thus far and must not be overlooked.
Coldplay also released Live 2003 as a CD-only album, but the bonus DVD, which contains over 90 minutes of footage from Sydney, Australia’s Horden Pavilion as well as a tour documentary and song lyrics, is what makes this release so notable.
Besides featuring an additional five songs that aren’t on the CD – “Daylight,” “Trouble,” “Don’t Panic,” “The Scientist” and “Life is for Living” – the DVD’s cinematography is excellent and the visual quality stunning. Alternating between shots from the crowd and from the stage, the video not only places the viewer in the position of the fan, but also offers a VIP view of the entire concert experience. Throughout the show, the crisp live recording captures each instrument, including the vocals, at the utmost clarity and with calculated balance.
Although lead singer, guitarist and pianist Chris Martin gets the most face time, he deserves the attention. The video establishes him as an enigmatic frontman with an amiable yet intense personality and remarkable stage presence. His musicianship, as well as the rest of the bands’, is seemingly perfect within the Britpop/dream pop/rock confines that they operate. On both the album and the video, the group sounds very tight and rehearsed, yet also satisfyingly expansive. Arena rock can indeed be a passionate affair.
Both collections of songs feature a mixture of singles and deeper album cuts, as well as two unreleased songs – “Moses” and “One I Love.” Musically, the most invigorating moments come when they expand upon their style to a psychedelic, Pink Floyd-esque jam. Guitarist Jon Buckland fits into this mold perfectly with his occasional wailing, almost ambient single-note leads. Guy Berryman’s droning yet dynamic bass lines tend to carry the melodies and play well off of Martin’s vocals and the chunking rhythms laid down by drummer Will Champion.
The quieter moments, which often feature Martin alone with his piano and his fabulous voice, are unfortunately less enjoyable when mediated and were likely more stirring at the concert itself.
The album’s standout selections include “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” “Shiver” and “See You Soon.” The video also manages to breathe new life into the previously overplayed singles “Yellow,” “Clocks” and “The Scientist,” all of which are quite impressive in modified live form.
After only two studio LPs, the members of Coldplay have established themselves as world-class musicians. Live 2003 showcases all that they’ve been able to accomplish and would be a worthy purchase for just about any music or concert video appreciator, as it proves that moving, dramatic and heartfelt rock can still be done well and without cliché. Coldplay fans, you were right all along.
Also, check Johnny Loftus’ review of a Coldplay show from way back in February, 2001.