Coheed and Cambria – KOKO, London, 18/06/17

Coheed and Cambria Koko poster

Dinosaur Pile-Up struggled to impress. Despite being a band for a decade, hardly anyone in the room was familiar with them, and they won’t have gained fans with their opening set. Their thirty minute stage time dragged: it was endlessly mediocre, verging on disastrous.

After briefly popping in to their set at Download festival last weekend, I knew what to expect. Something has gone terribly wrong in Dinosaur Pile-Up’s live shows. Vocalist Matt Bigland is failing to hit the high notes, and is having even more difficulty interacting with the crowd. Briefly asking if anyone had seen them before, he seemed almost mocking when he said, “Ooh, so like, eight people?”. He can’t have been surprised, because this show sold out long before the support announcement.

With more sound issues than I could count, members of the audience were visibly flinching throughout their set. The screeching feedback, the indecipherable vocal: it was a relief when Dinosaur Pile-Up’s set was coming to a close.

Sadly, their final song was the absolutely aggravating ’11:11′. Not many songs make me furious, but not many are this mind-numbingly repetitive. Crooning, “I told you once, I told you twice, I swear I must have said a thousand times,” Matt proves that by yelling, “ELEVEN ELEVEN” EIGHTEEN BLOODY TIMES during the four minute track. Can you see why I wanted it to just END?! This might be my least favourite song of all time, and that’s an achievement!

Support bands need to stand out, especially when they’re competing against legends like Coheed and Cambria. Sadly, Dinosaur Pile-Up were utterly forgettable (if a little rage-inducing…).

Setlist:

Birds & Planes
Arizona Waiting
Red & Purple
Might As Well
Anxiety Trip
Traynor
11:11

Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria have one of the most loyal fanbases in the world, which isn’t a surprise. In their twenty years as a band, they’ve released eight full-length albums and they’ve told an utterly compelling story in The Amory Wars.

When tickets went on sale for this Neverender celebration of ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV’, they sold out within two hours. A second date was added due to popular demand (taking place tonight and currently still on sale – don’t miss out!) because this seminal album is a fan favourite. I’m a huge Coheed and Cambria fan, but this was my first time seeing them at a headline show. Their set at Reading festival last year impressed me, but it was obvious that the atmosphere at this show was going to be electric.

The artwork for Coheed and Cambria's Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV

Opener ‘Keeping the Blade’ piped through the speakers, and from the first note the audience started chanting for the band, unable to contain their excitement. Everyone began singing along with the orchestral track, mimicking the instruments and not letting the lack of lyrics stand in their way. As soon as it finished Claudio Sanchez, vocalist extraordinaire, took to the stage to perform acoustic track ‘Always & Never’. The beginning of the album is understated, which shouldn’t translate well to a live environment, but it added to the intimacy of the set.

Bursting into the frenetic ‘Welcome Home’, the energy rose dramatically when the crowd saw Claudio with that signature double-headed guitar. Switching instruments at the start of ‘Ten Speed (of God’s Blood and Burial)’, the fearless frontman had played as many guitars as songs, perfectly demonstrating his musical mastery. Speeding through the set, ‘Crossing the Frame’, ‘Apollo I: The Writing Writer’ and ‘Once Upon Your Dead Body’ raised the temperature in the room to an unbearable level, as the fans couldn’t stop dancing and screaming every single word.

The only time the set slowed down was during melancholy love song ‘Wake Up’. This was the song that made me fall in love with Coheed and Cambria in the first place, because it’s beautifully written (both musically and lyrically) and embodies the story of Coheed and Cambria that the band are trying to tell. Claudio was smiling widely throughout the set, impressed by the crowd’s reaction, but he looked happiest during this song, even dancing when the lights went out and the band had a brief break before ‘The Suffering’.

Taking the time to restrain his mane before the band played the four parts of The Wishing Well, it was a sign that the end was near. Yes, it was exciting to hear the album in full, but the time went far too quickly. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to the album religiously, but I found myself swept away by the destructive riffs, transported to the world that they’ve so painstakingly crafted.

After performing the final track of the album, the New York quartet returned to the stage to play a three song encore. While struggling to unleash his hair, Claudio shared that the band are going to go into hibernation for a little while. Understandably, this comment was heavily booed. “I didn’t say hiatus, I said hibernation!” he insisted. “Look at us. We’re bears. We sleep for the summer.” It was refreshing to hear a mixture of material, but I’m definitely going to see another Coheed and Cambria headline show in the future: their style has fluctuated wildly across their eight releases, so I can imagine their typical setlists are far more varied and even more compelling.

Setlist:

Keeping the Blade
Always & Never
Welcome Home
Ten Speed (of God’s Blood and Burial)
Crossing the Frame
Apollo I: The Writing Writer
Once Upon Your Dead Body
Wake Up
The Suffering
The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court
Mother May I
The Willing Well I: Fuel For the Feeding End
The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth
The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut

Island
Delirium Trigger
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3