Prog - - Take A Bow - FRASER LEWRY

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.

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