LIVE: Coheed & Cambria @ O2 Ritz, Manchester (23/08/2016)

Date: August 23rd 2016
Venue: O2 Ritz, Manchester
Support: mewithoutYou / La Dispute


The great thing about New York progressive post-hardcore titans Coheed & Cambria is that they always pull in a really eclectic selection of people. Emo kids, hardcore kids, old dudes in Rush tees, full blown goths. There are parents, grandparents, children under 10, and everything in-between. The one thing everyone has in common, however, is that they are fucking SWEATING. The O2 Ritz is overwhelmingly hot tonight, but that doesn’t stop the crowds pouring in for a night of big hair and bigger riffs.

Up first though we have Pennsylvania’s mewithoutYou [5] who to be totally honest are a little lacklustre tonight. They suffer from sound issues in the beginning, but even when these are resolved their atmospheric rock with spoken word vocals fails to generate much interest from the crowd. It’s a real shame because on record these guys are fantastic, but there’s no spark tonight.

Main support is La Dispute [7] who definitely have some fans in the crowd this evening. Musically they’re quite similar to ewithoutYou but with a more youthful energy and their heavier moments give them the edge in the spoken-word support band stakes. The set is made up almost entirely of tracks from 2014’s ‘Rooms Of The House’, but the standout track is closer ‘King Park’ from ‘Wildlife’. The ending of that song is an emotional masterpiece and tonight it definitely gets the reaction it deserves. The only real criticism is that frontman Jordan Dreyer utilises a staccato vocal style that he can’t always keep up live, especially with the amount he moves around, and it sometimes becomes indecipherable.

Let’s be honest here – there could have been no supports at all tonight and people would have been happy because Coheed & Cambria [10] fans are some of the most dedicated in all of alternative music. Iconic frontman Claudio Sanchez and guitarist/fellow founder Travis Stever walk onto the stage to rapturous applause before opening with ‘Ghost’. An acoustic track seems like a strange opener at first, but Coheed have never been ones to do things by the book. They’re joined after this by relative newcomer Zach Cooper on bass and original drummer Josh Eppard; a man whose reception is loud enough to rival Sanchez‘s, which just shows that this band is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Once everyone is onstage the show truly starts with ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3’, and the room positively explodes. The atmosphere created by this monumental track is so solid you could lean against it, and the chorus shout of “Man your own jackhammer!” from the crowd is absolutely deafening. This 8 minute epic is like a showcase of everything that makes up Coheed. It’s technical but catchy, it’s progressive but accessible, it’s memorable but unpredictable, and it’s tracks like this in their arsenal, that allow the band to make up their crowds with so many different kinds of people.

Following this the hits just keep coming. Glistening pop numbers like ‘A Favour House Atlantic’ and ‘Blood Red Summer’ have everyone passionately singing along, and an unexpected performance of ‘Everything Evil’ has the old-school die-hards foaming at the mouth. The new songs also sound fantastic; both ‘The Island’ and ‘Eraser’ not losing any momentum or punch.

As the final notes ring out, the writhing crowd is still desperate for more, and, despite the unbearable heat, if Coheed came out to do another two hours you could guarantee they’d lap it up. An absolutely spellbinding set from a completely unrivalled and incomparable band. After almost 15 years they’re still as innovating, challenging, and infectious as they’ve always been.

Written by Liam Knowles (@wearefixtures)

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