- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

It is a measure of Coldplay's success that the group has begun to tour in the United States so often that the band mates sometimes forget what it's like to play back home. The British rock band will headline Friday's 10th annual HFSmas Nutcracker 2002 concert at MCI Center, sponsored by WHFS-FM (99.1). Proceeds will go to charities.
Former Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan also will play at the Nutcracker with his new band, Zwan, along with Queens of the Stone Age, the Vines, New Found Glory, Box Car Racer and special guest James Brown, who will be accompanied by the Pietasters.
During a two-month tour of the United States in August and September, Coldplay "forgot what it was like to play in Europe," bassist Guy Berryman says by phone Monday from Los Angeles International Airport, en route to San Francisco.
Coldplay returned home to tour the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe during October and November.
"It's funny because Europe changes dramatically in every city," Mr. Berryman says. "In the U.S., we always know what to expect. We look forward to it because it's a good show every time. The audiences are enthusiastic over here; people like to come out and enjoy themselves."
Although he says that the band's European tour was "great fun" and the crowd in Madrid was "unreal," he also says that unlike most American crowds, some of the European crowds are "a bit more laid back."
Still, it's in the United States that Coldplay feels it still needs to prove itself, Mr. Berryman says. "Growing up, everybody told us how it's impossible to succeed in America as a British band, and we got fed up and are trying to prove everyone wrong," he explains.
Though the band won a Grammy for its first album earlier this year and its second release debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100, the musicians feel they are just getting started.
"We need to do more albums. We need to have shows of a certain size and production quality. We want to be setting a basic minimum of 15,000 to 20,000 people at every show," Mr. Berryman says.
Coldplay's long-term goals destroy any lingering rumors of squabbles within the band during its most recent recording process. Frontman Chris Martin has acknowledged that there were arguments, but Mr. Berryman says the band was never in danger of breaking up.
"There's been a lot of misinformation in the press. That's what some people want to hear. They want things to go wrong, and so they take things and blow them out of proportion," he says. "There was never any conflict."
In their effort to achieve what Mr. Berryman conceded is "U2 status," the band mates are building on two stellar records, the first of which was released in 2000. "Parachutes" won critical acclaim and a Grammy last February for best alternative music album.
Their second album, "A Rush of Blood to the Head," was released Aug. 27 and already has sold more than 500,000 copies. It has remained in the Top 100 for 14 weeks.
Although Coldplay prefers to do its own shows, "you've got to keep the radio stations happy, so we'll do our best to make the crowd feel a part of the performance," Mr. Berryman says of the Nutcracker. The band, which is compulsive and spontaneous in its song-making process, is the opposite in concert, he says, although critics have noted a progression in its confidence onstage.
"We plan everything, meticulously, live," Mr. Berryman says. "We don't mess around with anything, just so everything runs smoothly."

WHAT: HFSmas Nutcracker 2002
WHERE: MCI Center, Seventh and F streets NW
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
TICKETS: $29 and $39
INFORMATION: Tickets at Ticketmaster, 202/432-SEAT, 410/481-SEAT, 703/573-SEAT, 800/527-6384, on the Web at www.whfs.com, or at the MCI Center box office

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