COHEED AND CAMBRIA
Bursting onto stage with a rousing Prologue as the lights spin and the crowd chant along like Viking warriors, Coheed And Cambria have momentum on their side from the opening seconds. The Roundhouse is a big venue, and like Marillion’s trip to the Royal Albert Hall last year, this feels like a moment. An arrival. And as the band bounce and judder gleefully through Here We Are Juggernaut, Devil In Jersey City, The Crowing, Blood Red Summer and the rest, it’s obvious the audience are just as committed to the journey.
Along with The Cure’s Robert Smith, frontman Claudio Sanchez maintains one of the mostly defiantly recognisable silhouettes in rock’n’roll, but even that magnificent mane can get in the way, and by the time Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood And Burial) thunders into gear he’s gathered it all into a tidy man bun, an arrangement that doesn’t last long before the curls are unleashed again.
If there’s one criticism, it’s that the set lacks variety. It rattles along at a fierce canter, the only real changes in either texture or tempo provided by the intros, or when the band slow things down entirely, as they do for the Wake Up.
Sanchez refers to the band as “rock’s oddity”, but the bond between them and their audience is clearly a strong one, with every song greeted by a roar within nano-seconds of liftoff (C&C aren’t big on introductions), and every chorus treated as an opportunity to clear the lungs.
Sometimes the interplay between band and audience feels choreographed, as if everyone signed a contract on the way in that binds them to participate fully. And some of that back and forth is by design: the bubblegum-style naaa-naaa-naaa singalong that accompanies the setending Old Flames is clearly built so that the crowd can carry on singing once the song has finished. And after a rousing encore of Welcome Home, even the song that plays over the PA – Argent’s God Gave Rock And Roll To You – is cued up so it kicks off just before the chorus, lest the revelry cease for as second.
Second perhaps only to Baroness, Coheed And Cambria’s songs are triumphant by design, and the icing is in the implementation. Small quibbles aside, this was a masterclass in crowd control. And a very good night out.