Live Review: Coheed and Cambria - Koko, London 19/06/2017
On what was one of the hottest days of the year and the expected train failures that come with it, I finally arrived to a packed out KOKO in the heart of Camden Town.
There was an air of excitement and expectation from the crowd and when the house lights went down the place erupted with cheers and applause as the distinctive and mesmerising violin score of 'Keeping The Blade' opened the show, bringing a huge smile to my face and I'm sure to many others in the crowd too.
Coheed and Cambria have been in the business now for many years, having released their first studio album, 'The Second Stage Turbine Blade' in 2002 and followed that up with a consistent stream of a further 7 albums in 15 years. The purpose of this 2017 tour was for the US conceptual rockers to focus solely on their third studio album,'Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness'. What a title, right? And giving an album a title like that brings with it a lot of expectation.
Once the intro of 'Keeping The Blade' died down the lights came up and out walked frontman Claudio Sanchez with an acoustic guitar. Usually fast moving heavy rock bands don't start with a slow song, but 'Always and Never' is great at setting the scene and building that excitement because the crowd knew that in following the album playlist, the instantly infectious 'Welcome Home' was about to be fired out across the airwaves. A long standing fan favourite saw Claudio really throw all he had at his now electric, double necked, Epiphone custom guitar, at times playing it above his head, Hendrix style and unleashing his mane of other worldly hair as he jumped around the stage before supporting the beast of a guitar up in his arms beside his head and being a great sport for the cameras.
The rest of the gig continued in very much the same vein, a lot of mesmerising guitar playing and a never ending smile across the drummer, Josh Eppard's face. What is it that makes drummers such a happy bunch?
When reviewing a show, I like to move around the venue so I can get a feel of the crowd and how they are responding. Tonight the male heavy crowd showed a lot of interaction with the band, a lot of jumping and arm waving, some people going that extra mile and appearing on shoulders. Things calmed down a bit midway through when Claudio brought out the acoustic guitar again for 'Wake Up', a love song which saw the couples in the crowd, and a few bromances, come together and sway from side to side, mobile phones raised to simulate candle light. This song never felt out of place amongst the frenzy of the other songs and goes to show that they really know what they are doing.
Stand out tracks throughout the rest of the gig included another infectious sing along song, 'The Suffering' and 'The Willing Well II' which I like to think of as a song that seems to span multiple decades, an 80's Tron styled intro before bopping along into a sixties finger clicking ditty but with modern heavy drum beats and heavy melodic guitar riffs throughout. The last four songs of their set before the encore, 'The Willing Well II' included, is just one long journey, each song lasting well over 7 minutes but they never feel overly long, especially when Sanchez unleashes his inner Robert Plant inspired guitar solo in 'The Willing Well IV'.
'The Willing Well' collection brings the show to a calming end, and with the album now played in full it leaves the encore open to other fan favourites, 'Island', 'Delirium Trigger' and one of my own personal favourites, 'In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3'. A song taken from their 2003 album of the same name, and this was the album that got my attention all those years ago. I still remember purchasing a copy of it in my local music store, that is now no longer going but the CD still has it's special place in my music stand.
Despite being a long time fan of the band, this was my first live show of theirs and it was so much more then I had expected. It was a night when people came together for the music, mobile phones barely made an appearance, instead people threw just as much into their reactions the band gave to the crowd. We all left very happy and a lot sweatier.
Photos and Review by Rachel Prew Photography