Coldplay/Under 1 Roof – review

Hammersmith Apollo, London
Rizzle Kicks, Robbie Williams and Lily Allen were among the stars who joined Coldplay for this variety-style charity show

If Prince Harry were put in charge of the Royal Variety Performance, it would probably look very much like this charity gig. The cast list is made up of a mainstream rock band, a pop singer fast approaching national-treasure status, a fashionable street magician, a comedian and a rap act who make the grandparents in the crowd want to pinch their cheeks. The profits go to Kids Company, whose powerhouse founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh, appears toward the end of the evening, lauding headliners Coldplay for "honouring the social contract and behaving in an ethical way".

Openers Rizzle Kicks are the something-for-the-kids element of the evening, though there are few bona fide juveniles here. The Brighton hip-hop duo's references might be lost on them, anyway. Their poptimistic rhyming, augmented by a brass section, is so indebted to Madness they may as well cover Baggy Trousers and be done with it.

Bradford magician Dynamo, next up, is another performer of the old school. His mind-reading and card-swapping are timeless – the Victorians were probably wowed by something similar. His charm, however, is immense. Ricky Gervais reminds us that David Brent has a pop star's heart under his waistcoat; his sporadically hilarious all-singing set includes the tilt at reggae Equality Street, with "my own Jay Z" rapping alongside.

Lily Allen tiptoes on wearing an overcoat, apprehensive about her first gig in years. She has no band, but it's a measure of the affection she generates that there is no shortage of stars to help out. Chris Martin plays guitar during The Fear, Robbie Williams shows up in a tux for the mumsy-and-dadsy duet Dream a Little Dream of Me and Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley plays piano on her current No 1 single, Somewhere Only We Know. It's her Blurred Lines take-down, Hard Out Here – with six twerking dancers – that underlines her value as a pop star; it's great to have this witty, self-aware woman back.

Coldplay's enthronement as successors to U2 is surely only a formality now. They've become expert at layering their shows with bombast and effects, such as the "Xyloband" bracelets that light up during Charlie Brown; Chris Martin is maturing into a messianic figure who rouses crowds with one hoarse cry. It's all on a (relatively) human scale, though, as evinced by the appearance of a children's choir to sing White Christmas.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #Iwasthere


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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