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Sunday, 14 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Coheed And Cambria (Live Review By Alex)

Coheed And Cambria, Y Plas, Cardiff

Here I am, second time seeing Coheed and Cambria live. While I do not like to distinguish between successful bands and small venue acts, they are now the first major label act I have deliberately seen more than once. What caused me to come back? Well, like I said in my piece on The Unheavenly Creatures, they have quickly ascended to the position of favourite band. Not to over-dramatize matters, there is a certain mythos which surrounds live concerts, and this can be especially said for Coheed. Firstly, there are very few casual followers in the audience, or the entire fanbase for that matter.

Almost everyone has been to more than one show before, there are people taking the opportunity to buy the Amory Wars Comics from the merch stand, and everybody knows all the words to their favourite songs. That said, while dedicated audiences can elicit whiffs of snobbery at times, the respect on show is remarkably inspirational. Remember, these concerts can be the only chance that fans have to meet in person, and every newbie is a new person who we can share the enjoyment with. Who needs elitism when you can have community?

Instrumental act, Chon (7) open the night’s proceedings, and everyone seems impressed to varying degrees. Their smooth Jazz-flavoured style of guitar rock may not be to everyone’s tastes, and considering the main act are a beacon of lyrical weirdness and sentimentality, the lack of singing may not necessarily be to everyone’s tastes. There is no denying their instrumental prowess however, and the crowd try their best to get into the style, by swaying and jiving to the acts impressive complexity and time signatures. Regardless, their appearance ties into Claudio Sanchez’ efforts to help smaller bands gain exposure by taking them on tour. While there is no more renowned support act to pair them with this time around, the band themselves seem humbled to perform for us.

A dark and mysterious prologue, the same one beginning the album, opens the show. Proving tense and alluring within the confines of the record is one thing, yet here it takes on new life, signalling the beginning of another epic concert and adding to the immersive experience already taking hold. ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ comes the first of many fist in the air chants as the band walk confidently towards the front of the stage playing Dark Sentencer each member feeding off the excitement in the gloriously intimate, Y Plas venue. Of the back of that sentiment, they plunge straight into Here We Are Juggernaut, the gigantic chorus, forcing concertgoers exhilaration levels and vocal chords to the limit. Receiving the most powerful response however are the classics, by which I mean those anthems owing to the ‘heeds first three albums.

In fact, some of these songs are only fully rediscovered in a live setting, the anthemic Blood Red Summer and In Keeping Secrets becoming massive opportunities for audience participation, fast-paced set list staples Devil In Jersey City, A Favour House Atlantic and The Crowing inspiring raucous moshing only a few feet from the stage, and Wake Up being a tearfully emotional few minutes. Not to say that the new songs don’t hit hard, as they certainly do. Unheavenly Creatures sees Claudio put down his guitar, taking the opportunity to emulate the energy coming from the crowd onstage, and performing a stunt of pretending to choke guitarist, Travis Stever, with his mic chord. The Gutter meanwhile enthrals with its dramatism and Old Flames provides one opportunity for us to join our singing voices in unison, before the main part of the show is over.

Encoring on Welcome Home. There is a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in the room. No way could Coheed perform every song people would love them to, so instead they play the songs we all love with an undying love for their art. True, they do not talk to the audience a lot, yet they don’t need to when fans already respond with such love and unity towards the music. From talking to fellow fans after the gig, I get the clear sense that while this may be some people first, fifth, or fourteenth time seeing Coheed, it almost definitely won’t be anybody’s last (10)

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