TORONTO -- Coldplay frontman Chris Martin was a man of many faces on Saturday night as the British band played the Air Canada Centre Theatre in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000.
There was the prankster, who swallowed helium out of a balloon to sing the last two lines of God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, and added a couple of lines from Nelly's sexy, hip-hop hit Hot In Herre in the middle of Coldplay's own Everything's Not Lost.
There was the jokester, who apologized to people who had come to see the Maple Leafs play hockey even though his "organ playing was considerably better than that at the games."
There was the discipliner, who literally stopped performing mid-song, jumped off stage and railed at some fans at the front, whose behaviour -- it appeared -- he did not approve of.
There was the motivator, who encouraged people to come down to the front and then freaked out slightly when hundreds of them began streaming down the aisles: "S---, I've just created a riot."
But mostly, there was Chris Martin, the consummate performer, whose impassioned singing and playing -- on both piano and guitar (acoustic and electric) -- was utterly infectious over the course of an hour and 35 minutes.
It was clear that Martin, intoxicating guitarist Jon Buckland -- whose own delicious playing should not be underestimated in terms of the sheer power of Coldplay songs in a live setting -- bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion, have officially graduated from the club show circuit.
There were plenty of lights -- sometimes too much in the strobe department -- and a huge back screen on to which black and white video of the four musicians was separately displayed throughout the night, recalling a similar effect that U2 employed during their Elevation tour.
In fact, at times, Coldplay displayed the energy of that veteran Irish group, or fellow sensitive rockers Travis of Scotland.
Overall, it had more of the feel of an arena rock show as compared to the band's memorable stop at Kool Haus back in June 2001. As Martin pointed out: "This is an arena concert; it's up to you to be an arena crowd."
The group opened in almost total darkness with Politik, the lead-off song from their latest album, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, before the strobe lights kicked in.
It was dazzling, if slightly irritating.
That display of light continued into the next song, Shiver, from Coldplay's debut disc, Parachutes, before the presentation finally settled down by the fifth song, Trouble, the first of many crowdpleasers.
One I Love
Everything's Not Lost
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
A Rush Of Blood To The Head
In My Place
Life Is For the Living