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Coldplay Mellows their Fans

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Formed three years ago by students at University College, London, Coldplay just launched its stateside tour and played a sold-out date at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Coldplay, whose new album "Parachutes" swept to the top of the British charts. Already a critical and commercial favorite in England, accentuated the gentle optimism and intimacy of its songs with a decidedly understated--though never cold--delivery. A better name for the group might even be Warmplay. Coldplay has a dreamy, melancholy edge, driven by softly melodic, acoustic-guitar lines. "The arrangements are quite sparse" Coldplay's songs are sensitive-guy tunes about relationships. The song "Shiver," a instant hit in Britain, is a plaintive song about unrequited love. Another incredible song "Yellow," has a more upbeat verse, saying "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you ... I love you so." Yellow has cracked the Top 10 of the Modern Rock Radio chart, which inspired MTV rotation and sailed "Parachutes" up to No. 62 with a bullet on this week's Billboard Top 200 Album list. (The group headlines Irving Plaza on Feb. 16th.) Once again the British invasion of modern rock comes as a surprise, since nearly every other song charting in that format was recorded by a rap-metal or leftover alterna-rock band. Coldplay's grand and arty ballads more closely recall what you might have heard 10 or even 20 years ago. During Coldplay's show at the Fillmore, the only touch of show-biz flash was a small, illuminated globe on a speaker cabinet. Like the music itself, the band members were modest and reserved--going about their business as casually as if the concert were a TV show rehearsal. Singer Chris Martin, who shifted between acoustic guitar and electric keyboards, reminded you vocally in places of the droning ache of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, but he punctuated his delivery with falsetto touches and semi-conversational asides. With just the one album, the group padded its hour-plus set with some prerecorded music, including the entirety of "Waterfall," a decade-old song by the where-are-they-now Stone Roses, themselves once destined for Beatle-hood. But Coldplay's own music was anything but padded. With endless haunting variations on the watery sound of the "Midnight Cowboy" theme. And the rhythm section, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion, gives this otherwise ethereal experience a substantial bottom end. "I think this is the most wicked place we've ever played," Martin said of the Fillmore. Plenty of bands pander to the local audience like that. Few make it seem so sincere.

By Randy Cohen

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   Members of the Band Are:
Singer-guitarist-pianist Chris Martin. His players -- guitarist Jon Buckland, drummer Will Champion, and bassist Guy Berryman