It’s a fairly interminable wait for the headliners tonight while mewithoutYou and La Dispute dish out an unappealing blend of post-hardcore and shrill emo hysterics. Jordan Dreyer of La Dispute bounces around the stage like a toddler overdosing on Ritalin but has no clue how to sing. Never mind that he couldn’t carry a tune in a suitcase, he’s constantly out of breath, reducing his delivery to an unintelligible stream of disconnected syllables.
In a time when too many vocalists mistake screaming for passion, and there are so many growling frontmen who all sound so similar as to be indistinguishable, Coheed And Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez stands alone as a glorious throwback to the age of great rock singers. He has power, range and, best of all, a sound uniquely his own, all of which are put front and centre in the opening number, Ghost, performed by Sanchez on acoustic guitar and Travis Stever on electric.
Claudio Sanchez stands alone as a glorious throwback to the age of great rock singers.
It’s a bold choice to start with such a subdued track, but the crowd is brimming with anticipation, and when the full band – with Josh Eppard on drums and Zach Cooper on bass – kick into In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, the fans erupt in recognition of the opening riff.
Coheed And Cambria have never been shy about expressing their progressive side with intricate song structures and albums brimming with science fiction themes, but they’ve always had the wisdom to build singalong sections into their music. So the Forum vibrates with the audience’s voluble participation in Blood Red Summer and No World For Tomorrow.
The music may be complex, but the presentation is a no-frills affair. The stage is bare apart from the musicians, ensuring the focus is always on the songs, although Sanchez occasionally throws some guitar hero shapes, playing with his teeth or behind his head.
The mix isn’t perfect, with Cooper’s bass in danger of disappearing under the two guitars, while Eppard’s kick drum is woolly rather than punchy. However, there are few drummers in any genre who can match his sheer physicality behind the kit. He plays every note like it’s going to be his last, and on Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant, he belts a cymbal so hard that it flies off the riser, stand and all.
The band play six tracks from 2015’s excellent The Color Before The Sun, with Island and Peace To The Mountain sounding colossal live. They encore with the massive riff of You Got Spirit, Kid that gets the crowd jumping, then a cover of Nirvana’s Drain You, which sounds rather primitive next to Coheed’s own compositions. They wrap up with Welcome Home, Sanchez and Stever trading solos.