“Coheed are making more than music: we’re creating a culture.” If any musician other than Claudio Sanchez said that in an interview, it’d rightfully get dismissed as self-aggrandising bullshit. However, in this one instance, the Coheed And Cambria frontman was bang on the money.
If you’re a fan of these New York comic geeks and their anthemic fusion of prog, pop and metal, you know that just listening to the music doesn’t cut it. Every Coheed album (bar 2015’s The Color Before The Sun) is a wormhole into a sci-fi mythos called The Amory Wars: a universe that, much like those of Marvel and DC Comics, only grows more convoluted with each instalment. There’s a tie-in graphic novel series dedicated to making it make sense and unending rumours of a movie adaptation. It’s proper nerd shit.
But – as humanity’s greatest philosopher, Huey Lewis, once declared – it’s hip to be square. Twenty years into Coheed’s career, the MCU’s the biggest franchise going and Star Wars refuses to fuck off. Plus, making melodic, genre-straddling rock is so in vogue right now: how quickly did Sleep Token sell out Wembley again? Heavy music’s biggest dorks are secretly badass – and tonight’s headline show at a rammed O2 Forum Kentish Town proves it.
Coheed are diving headfirst into the deep cuts this evening. Eschewing such fan favourites as Welcome Home and In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, the band are instead playing 2007’s No World For Tomorrow in full, followed by a smörgåsbord of songs from 2022’s Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind. No one’s disappointed, though. The Coheed fandom of comic book obsessives and hard rock loyalists are completionist by nature, as proven when Claudio marches on-stage, plays obscure album track The Reaping and gets 2,000-plus people singing along.
From there, the night is just high energy. No World For Tomorrow and The Running Free are the biggest livewires of the early set, the former’s hammering prog metal and latter’s big emo sing-along demanding venue-wide reactions. Claudio’s just as amped-up as his crowd, his every second not at the mic spent skipping and kicking his way across the stage. Not even pulling out a complicated five-part suite like The End Complete can exhaust the universal good time: II: Radio Bye Bye boasts another long-buried gem of a hook, before V: On The Brink gets fists pumping in unison.
London even seems well-versed in the new shit. It’s not surprising – given that Vaxis II stands as arguably Coheed’s catchiest release, to the point that it spawned a myriad of singles – but it doesn’t make the mass jumping to A Disappearing Act’s bouncy synths any less incredible. Then, during The Liars Club’s howl of “Do you want me to lie?!”, you can almost feel the communal catharsis.
By the time the guitar symphony that is Ladders Of Supremacy ends the night in eight minutes of aplomb, Coheed feel invincible. Whether it’s a big metal movement or the simplest pop-rock number, this band have the chops to do it well. And they’ll do it in more style than their status as prog-loving comic book aficionados will ever earn them credit for.
Coheed And Cambria Kentish Town Forum 2023 setlist
1. The Reaping
2. No World For Tomorrow
3. The Hound (Of Blood And Rank)
5. The Running Free
6. Mother Superior
7. Gravemakers & Gunslingers
8. Justice In Murder
9. The End Complete I: The Fall Of House Atlantic
10. The End Complete II: Radio Bye Bye
11. The End Complete III: The End Complete
12. The End Complete IV: The Road And The Damned
13. The End Complete V: On The Brink
14. The Embers Of Fire
15. Beautiful Losers
17. Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord)
18. A Disappearing Act
19. The Liars Club
20. Ladders Of Supremacy