Coheed & Cambria
Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Monday, May 9, 2011
My two previous attempts at seeing Coheed & Cambria perform live were marred by bad luck.
The first time I went to a Coheed show, about three years ago, I brought a girl I was sweet on. Much to my dismay, she decided she wanted to leave about a half-hour into Coheed's thus-far-amazing set, and being the sap that I am, I relented.
The second time I tried to see them, almost exactly a year ago, I lined up reviewer tickets through one of the opening bands. Somehow, said band's guest list never made its way to the box office, leaving me and the photographer shit out of luck (although it didn't prevent me from penning an imaginary concert review, which also showcased my incredible artistic talent).
As the old saying goes, "third time's a charm," and last night, I finally got to experience Coheed & Cambria in all their prog-tastic glory.
With no opening act on the bill, Coheed & Cambria took the stage at 8 p.m. and played a 2 1/2-hour double set that showcased the band's sonic versatility. The first set was a mostly "unplugged" aaffair, as frontman Claudio Sanchez took the stage solo, wearing funky white-rimmed glasses, and kicked things off with an acoustic rendition of "Always and Never." The rest of the band then joined Sanchez onstage. Guitarist Travis Stever started off with an acoustic guitar before switching to an electric halfway through the set. Drummer Chris Penne played a stripped-down kit and bassist Michael Todd played an electric bass, sans any noticeable effects pedals.
Not surprisingly, the acoustic set focused mainly on Coheed's mellower material and the crowd seemed to know every lyric. Stever played an amazing solo on the acoustic during "Mother Superior," and Sanchez's vocals were note-perfect.The band had a few surprises up their sleeves, including a new song, "Iron Fist," that featured a funky, jam band vibe, soulful vocals and a rousing climax. Additional rarities included a song apiece from Stever's and Sanchez's respective side projects, Davenport Cabinet and The Prize Fighter Inferno. The acoustic set lasted a little more than 40 minutes and featured plenty of sing-along moments for an enthusiastic audience that didn't seem to care that another workweek had just begun.
After a half-hour intermission, Coheed & Cambria returned to the stage and launched into the title track off their debut album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade. As large turbines on either side of the stage spun slowly, the band spent the next hour playing the album in its entirety, from their first single "Devil in Jersey City" through the album-closing, "hidden" bonus track, "IRO-Bot." Interestingly, while Todd is credited with performing the screamed vocals on the studio album, Stever handled the majority of the screaming live.
The band left the stage for only three minutes before returning for a five-song, half-hour encore of favorites from their later albums. Coheed then left the stage again, but the house lights remained down as the crowd chanted for one more song. The band members obliged, re-emerging for one final number -- an acoustic rendition of the SSTB-era B-side "Elf Tower, New Mexico" -- that brought the entire night full-circle.
Setlist 1 (acoustic):
Always and Never (Claudio Sanchez solo)
Pearl of the Stars
Iron Fist (new song)
Milk Foot (Davenport Cabinet song)
Who Watches the Watchmen? (Prize Fighter Inferno song)
Here We Are Juggernaut
Setlist 2 (Second Stage Turbine Blade):
Second Stage Turbine Blade
Devil In Jersey City
Hearshot Kid Disaster
God Send Conspirator
Ten Speed (Of God's Blood and Burial)
No World for Tomorrow
The Black Rainbow
Elf Tower, New Mexico (acoustic)
Last Night: Coheed & Cambria at Marquee Theatre
Personal Bias: SSTB is probably my least favorite Coheed album, but it sounded pretty great live. The acoustic set and the encore songs were icing on the cake.
The Crowd: Mostly heshers and hipsters, with a surprising contingent of "bros." (Also, see below.)
Overheard: Guy: "Why are there so many nerds here?" Girl: "Who are you talking about?" Guy: "Why do you assume I'm talking about you?" -- a funny exchange overheard on the smoking patio between sets.
Random Notebook Dump: "More screaming. I guess I can see how they originally got saddled with the 'emo' tag."