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Coldplay Showcase "Viva La Vida" at First Free Show in London

June 17, 2008 11:32 AM ET

"No refunds," joked Chris Martin to the 5,000 lucky lottery winners jammed into London's Brixton Academy last night for the first proper live gig from Coldplay in more than two years. Playing in front of flashing stadium lights that illuminated the ecstatic crowd, Coldplay opened with "Life in Technicolor" and "Violet Hill," cuts from their new Viva La Vida, before rocking the crowd with classic hits "Clocks" and "In My Place."

Photo Gallery: Coldplay's London Free Gig.

Basking in Viva's stellar opening sales — the album moved 300,000 copies during its first three days of U.K. release — and playing for millions of less fortunate fans who listened to the show on the BBC's Radio One, Coldplay worked through a set list that included new songs "42," "Lost!" and the title track, interspersed with old favorites "Trouble" and "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face." Playing in England for the first time since 2005, Martin thanked "the most encouraging fans in the world" as the band closed their set with "Strawberry Swing."

A tireless Martin then grabbed an acoustic guitar, perched himself on the balcony of the venerable theatre and serenaded the audience with Coldplay's first hit "Yellow" before introducing "something super extra double special" as drummer Will Champion joined Martin on the balcony to sing a version of the Pogues' "If I Should Ever Fall From Grace With God." The first stage in this new chapter for Coldplay came to a close with "Fix You" and the new "Lovers in Japan" as confetti exploded over the crowd.

The trio of free concerts continues tonight in Barcelona and wraps up on June 23rd at Madison Square Garden. Coldplay's Viva La Vida tour launches July 14th in Los Angeles at the Forum and will take the band through Japan, Europe and North America.

Set List:
"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"
"If I Should Fall From Grace With God"
"Fix You"
"Lovers In Japan"

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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