With their feet in many camps, New York's Coheed and Cambria are a big of enigma, but their music has gained them legions of fans worldwide. Taking influence from progressive rock, alternative music, hardcore punk, and metal; the band have an eclectic sound that has evolved naturally over the eight studio albums they have released so far. Their latest, The Color Before the Sun (which I reviewed here), is the first album from the band not to be part of their epic, sprawling Sci-Fi storyline; and sounds more simple and song-based as a result. It has an album that has grown on me quite a bit since it was released, and the simpler sound is quite refreshing. Despite being a fan of the band for a number of years, I had never had the opportunity to see them live before. Every time the band has toured previously, I have either had other plans booked in already, or I just could not make the dates due to studies or work. When three UK shows were announced a few months back, I knew I had to really make the effort this time to go and see the band. Cardiff seemed like the most realistic option, and it is a place I have always wanted to return to anyway. It had been about six years since I was last year, so it was nice to return. The show was in the Great Hall, which is part of the University's Student's Union. I got a little lost on the way and, when I eventually found the building, walked through nearly every part of it until I found out where I was supposed to be - which was outside behind the building! When I got into the venue, I found that it was a good sized room, that was pretty much full throughout. The stage was a little low however, which made the view a bit dodgy at times - but overall it was good. I will say that the sound was pretty muddy throughout the evening, but not to the point that it ruined the show.
Before Coheed and Cambria came on, there were two rather dull support bands (in my opinion anyway). Crooks, the first band on, started interestingly with some gentle vocals set to an atmospheric backing but when the rest of the band came in it all went downhill. The songs were all very loose, with little in the way of stand-out melodies, and it was all so abrasive that it got quite hard to listen to after a while. I thought the band's singer had a strong, distinctive voice, but he seemed to get buried by the rest of the band far too often. I was quite glad when their set finished, as they really were not my thing at all. Main supports Glassjaw were not much better (again, in my opinion). Their disjointed, post-hardcore sound is really not my thing at all, and I did not really enjoy much of their set at all. The band's guitarist was quite interesting however, and quite a unique style that I enjoyed - he manged to get some crazy sounds out of it! Much like with Crooks however, I could not really find any catchy melodies to latch onto, and found their set quite a chore to sit through. They seemed to go down well with the crowd however, and they seemed to have quite a few fans in attendance. Coheed and Cambria have always seemed to want to associate themselves more with the punk and post-hardcore scenes than anything else, which is a shame as they would also go well on bills with rock and metal acts.
After sitting through two supports that I did not enjoy, Coheed and Cambria came onstage and reminded me why I was there. Their 90 minute, high-energy set was excellent, and contained songs from throughout their whole discography - including four from the new album. The first two songs from that album opened up the evening nicely, with Island in particular standing out. It is a bouncy, up-tempo number that really works well live. Claudio Sanchez (vocals/guitar) sounded excellent all night, with his distinctive voice carrying the band throughout. His guitar was a little buried however, which meant that many riffs were hard to hear which was a shame. Travis Stever (guitar/vocals) made up for it though, with his fluid, restrained lead playing complimenting the vocals perfectly. I really like his style, and he really adds a lot of every song. Old material like the anthemic Devil in Jersey City sat well alongside newer songs like Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant, showing the band's natural musical progressive perfectly. There were plenty of highlights throughout, including the industrial rock of World of Lines and the band's latest single You Got Spirit, Kid which was made to be played live and received a bigger reception than some of the old classics. As I said before, this was a very high-energy set and the atmosphere throughout was very good. The room was packed and there lots of die-hard Coheed and Cambria fans singing along to everything. It was probably the most audible crowd I have seen in a while, and when Sanchez directed the crowd to sing, they did so loudly! Lots of classics were wheeled out towards the end, including the perfect pop-metal of A Favor House Atlantic, with that big chorus sung by everyone there, and the set ended with the lengthy In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, which is a great piece of modern prog. That was not the end however, and the band came back for a couple more fan-favourites which really pleased the large crowd. Ten Speed (Of God's Blood and Burial) was the first, but it was the epic, brooding Welcome Home that received the biggest cheer. Sanchez and Stever exchanged solos during this song, and it ensured the evening ended on a high point. The setlist was:
Devil in Jersey City
Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant
Blood Red Summer
World of Lines
No World for Tomorrow
You Got Spirit, Kid
Here to Mars
A Favor House Atlantic
The Camper Velourium III: Al the Killer
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Ten Speed (Of God's Blood and Burial)
Overall, this was a great set from a band I have been wanting to see for quite some time, and they did no disappoint. The selection of material played was strong, and the atmosphere was excellent throughout. I hope the band comes back to the UK again soon, as I would love to see them again!