It's not like they've ever had trouble connecting with their audience: being loved up by the crowd like intimates rather than idols and then making the return of that love seem dorkly natural rather than slickly professional is what Coldplay do best. And whatever else is said - and bitched, moaned and waspishly pronounced - about the four Englishmen, they have learnt how to put on superior shows.
Still, putting Coldplay, who on their last tours have been giant arena or stadium fare, into the Enmore was guaranteed to make the 1500 or so inside feel pretty damn special and very well disposed.
So well disposed in fact that the material from the new album, Ghost Stories - the reason for this marketing-heavy mini-tour of TV shows, filmclip, boutique concert with not one word of interview or explanation - received hugely positive responses.
Which is handy, as an unblinkered eye/ear would have told them that almost all the new songs played, specifically the slow, emotionally bare ones, were not working. Were in fact in need of rescuing, or at least the show was in need of regular rescuing with each appearance. Not because there was resistance but because the limitations suggested on record were glaringly obvious on stage.
Starting the show with the first track of the album, Always In My Head, probably sounded like a gentle way to arrive, different rather than diffident and with that pretty chiming guitar. But it was in fact a bit limp and set adrift - it took the kick drum punch of Charlie Brown to start the show properly. And so the pattern was set.
Can't Get You Out Of My Head suffered from lack of genuine loud electronic thump. Photo: Daniel Boud
Magic, a semi-successful Coldplay-doing-R&B thing showed up its melodic weakness but was followed by Clocks, where some drum flaying and straight out hooks lifted the roo. True Love hovered between stools - neither intimate nor pulsing but trying to be both - until Viva La Vida threw so much energy into the Enmore that arms held aloft and voices raised became automatic through the room. Oceans was slow and directionless but A Sky Full Of Stars (the rare new song with some life in it) kicked lethargy away.
Though Coldplay were once damned as bedwetter's music and mid-tempo seemed their middling comfort zone, big and unabashed pop is where they shine most now and they do it with aplomb. A sombre collection of new songs though is going to need more attention (or surgery) for less forgiving/more demanding circumstances than these.
Or maybe an extra dose of Kylie Minogue. The diminutive but still iconic figure, surely on the list of a future Abbott government's roll call of dames, popped up for the second encore. She performed only for the in-house audience since that the radio simulcast had ended at the hour mark.
The choice of Where The Wild Roses Grow, the murder ballad she'd recorded with Nick Cave a decade or so ago, kinda sorta made sense for both historical and tragi-comic reasons. That is until it became clear that Chris Martin is the least convincing unhinged murderer in history and the song struggled to get above kitsch. Something similar could be said of Can't Get You Out Of My Head which the band attacked keenly and Minogue approached enthusiastically but suffered from lack of genuine loud electronic thump.
Still it was Kylie. On stage. In blue.
Anyway, once again the 75 minute show was rescued from a case of the nearly theres by the closing bit of pop smarts and build-to-euphoria that is Fix You. Sure enough, they got well loved up and gave it back plenty too. It's what they do best.
- Sydney Morning Herald