I received a surprise in my e-mail in box last weekend when the Coldplay newsletter announced that they had made a live album as a free download at Coldplay.com. Since I love free stuff, I raced over to the website to download my copy of the erstwhile rock balladeers. The recording seems to come from their current tour supporting Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends. Or as I like to think of it, the Viva La Vida Legal Defense Fund Tour for the millions of people in the world convinced Chris Martin stole their song. Even though I haven't had an interest in hearing Coldplay live, I could not pass up a freebie.
I didn't have an interest in the Coldplay concert experience because they struck me as a band that would sound flat in live performance. A band that polished in the studio with so many slow songs seemed like a dull proposition. So I was happy to find out that I was wrong in assuming that, because their new live album Left Right Left Right Left makes Coldplay sound like a fairly exciting place to be.
It may be the production or the mix, this live album feels like an actual concert. Sometimes live albums are overdubbed in the studio or mix the audience real low to get out of the way of their instruments. Here, the sound of the crowd is loudly featured, screaming and whistling and singing along as only an arena of fans can. The band sticks closely to the music arrangements from their albums with the exception of crowd participation, such as having the audience sing several verses of "Fix You". Live, the band's rhythm section is more noticeable as I caught on to bass parts and rhythms that seemed buried on record. The band's more muscular presence made songs like "Glass of Water" come across well, I could hear the surging glistening sonics wash over the arena.
Big hits like "Clocks" or "Viva La Vida" sound pretty decent when given the supersize treatment with "big moment" theatrics. Left Right Left Right Left does precisely what a live album should do - give the listener the feeling of being at an entertaining show. Sure, there were a handful of audio glitches in my MP3s but hey, it's free so why quibble. I still probably won't see them live though if I did I guess it wouldn't be too bad a thing. And if I did go, I understand you get a physical copy of this album too. I wonder if it's all yellow?