Madison Square Garden, New York - June 23, 2008

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

NEW YORK - Yes, there were mistakes and technical glitches.

But about 10,000 lucky contest winners from all over the world who attended Coldplay's only free concert in North America at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, which followed similar events in London and Barcelona last week, didn't seem to mind the-less-than perfect show one little bit.

In fact, as the hour-and-10-minute concert emptied out, fans could be heard singing the rousing chorus of the title track from Coldplay's week-old new album, Viva La Vida, which has become the group's first ever No. 1 single in both England and the U.S.

This overall acceptance of the British pop-rock act's percussive-heavy new music, tweaked by producers Brian Eno and Markus Dravs, is a good sign for Coldplay who appear on the verge of becoming the next U2 in terms of worldwide popularity and big arena shows despite critical drubbing in some quarters that their oh-so-sensitive songs appeal to females more than males.

That wasn't the case on Monday night in terms of an audience that was equally male-female and included such famous faces as Chris Rock, Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend and Molly Sims (Vegas).

Performing in North America for the first time in two years, leading up to the official Viva La Vida tour launch on July 14 and 15 with a pair of shows at L.A.'s Forum, the band presented a united front jamming closely together on either their stripped down main stage, one of two catwalks or at the very back of the Garden amongst audience members.

Often it felt they were letting the crowd witness a production rehearsal whether it was instruments that weren't cooperating, lyrics that were forgotten by Martin or songs being started over.

As Martin, who handled both piano and guitar, pointed out early in the show: "There are no refunds."

Opening with Life In Technicolor, also the first track on Viva La Vida, the band were first obscured by a black curtain which eventually lifted to reveal Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion.

Their uber hits, Clocks and In My Place, were the first to really get the audience going and Martin was a wildly animated frontman with infectious energy to burn and a tendency to skip/dance around the stage.

As they've done on their new record, Coldplay have also decided to shake things up in concert and instead of having one big video backdrop, they've opted for six hanging oversized lightbulbs onto which images and closeups of them playing were projected.

The title track from Viva La Vida was certainly the new song highlight as the four musicians gathered in a line at the front of the stage with Champion banging away on a bell when he wasn't pounding two large drums.

The lowlight was trying to perform the new song, Chinese Sleep Chant, on one of the smaller catwalks but an uncooperative guitar led Martin, who is married to American actress Gwyneth Paltrow, to joke: "Oh, this is embarrassing - let's go home. We come over here, we steal your women and we can't even play one song."

They also wandered through the crowd to the back of the arena to do an acoustic version of their breakthrough single, Yellow, but personally I missed the sound of Buckland's great electric guitar on that tune. (Champion, who took over vocals on the next tune, Death Will Never Conquer Me, fared better.)

Otherwise, standouts in their 16-song set were oldies God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, Square One and Fix You, and new songs Lost! - which saw Martin's earphones fall out just as he was gearing up for a crowd singalong - "Can we do that again? Make an old man happy?" - Strawberry Swing, and the final song, Lovers In Japan, the most U2-sounding anthem on the new album, which in a live setting included glow-in-the-dark confetti being blasted out of cannons onto the audience.

Coldplay head to Canada on July 27 with a date at the Pemberton Festival in B.C. before arriving in Montreal on July 29, Toronto on July 30-31 and Ottawa on Oct. 20.

Production delays led to the band's initial tour start to be pushed back two weeks and the disappearance of previously announced dates in western Canada including Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Coldplay will also perform on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight (June 25), the Today show on Friday (June 27) and David Letterman on Monday (June 30).

What Coldplay played at Madison Square Garden:
Life in Technicolor
Violet Hill
Clocks
In My Place
Viva La Vida
Chinese Sleep Chant
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
42
Square One
Trouble
Lost!
Strawberry Swing
Yellow
Death Will Never Conquer
Fix You
Lovers in Japan


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