There are not too many rock bands anymore that pursue the art of the concept album. There are even fewer that have a concept across several albums. Enter the world of Coheed & Cambria – a science fiction prog rock band originally hailing from Nyack, New York. The band, getting its start in the early 2000’s put out some of it’s best records based on lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s Amory Wars comic book series. Coheed and Cambria’s tour through the US during April and May celebrated their third album Good Apollo: I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. The record is a fan favorite, spawning some of the band’s most memorable songs such as “Welcome Home,” “Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)” and “The Suffering.”
With Coheed and Cambria being a band originally from New York, the home crowd truly turned out with some of the most diehard fans I’ve ever seen for any kind of band ever. Coheed made it’s first NY stop of it’s tour on May 5, 2017 at Terminal 5 in Manhattan, NY. Terminal 5 has a very open lay out with most of the venue being general admission standing, and three levels above the main floor with a “mezzanine” type layout where people can spectate from above. The general admission floor and all of the mezzanine levels were packed to capacity with fans anxiously awaiting Coheed and Cambria to grace the stage. Opening for the main event was The Dear Hunter, a prog rock band from Providence, Rhode Island. Coheed fans showed much love to the prog rock stylings of The Dear Hunter performing a tight, groovin’ set with a good deal of energy.
While I’ve been to a couple of Coheed and Cambria shows I have not been to one that was quite as crazy as this show. I made the mistake of purchasing a beer and finding a good spot closer to the front of the venue. I will explain my “mistake” in a moment. The show began with the intro from Good Apollo: I’m Burning Star IV Vol 1 which is a violin lead overture. Claudio Sanchez then stepped on the stage and the crowd immediately went wild for him – he started with the acoustic performance of “Always and Never” (track 2 on the album) as the rest of the band got on the stage. Here’s where my mistake occurred – Coheed and Cambria really kicked off the show with the in-your-face fan favorite “Welcome Home” while I had a full beer in my hand. The crowd immediately went nuts to the intro riff and there was a sudden rush from the back of the crowd pushing everyone to the front. Most of my beer wound up all over myself and probably everyone within a four-foot radius of me. “Welcome Home” shows off Coheed and Cambria’s metal side with it’s prog rock elements so it makes sense the crowd went crazy.
Consequently, after Coheed played their next song “Ten Speed,” I found myself near the stage looking up at Claudio Sanchez going nuts on his guitar. As he delivered his signature high pitched, charismatic and unique vocals over a punk rock-ish chorus, his famous long puffy hair was flying in all sorts of directions. As Coheed and Cambria played through the album, there wasn’t a song fans couldn’t recite. About halfway through the set, while guitarist Travis Stever was swapping guitars, Claudio took a back seat to his band’s ever impressive rhythm section of Josh Eppard on drums and Zach Cooper on bass. The jam broke down first into one of the dopest bass solos I’ve heard in a while – in fact, how often do you hear a bass solo? Then, Josh Eppard got into a super tight, high energy drum solo for which the crowd made a ton of noise. Playing the style of music that they do, each band member holds their own as an extraordinary musician.
The night of excellent music was closed out by an encore of three of my favorite Coheed songs – the first being “Island” off their 2015 release The Color Before the Sun. When the album was coming out it was announced that this would be the band’s first album not connected to Claudio Sanchez’s Amory Wars comic book series but would instead reflect on the band’s personal lives. Claudio tied this in by giving some back story to the song and his family that was in the audience who the song related to. He also stated that the band has been performing while having the flu and required some assistance from the crowd. Who would have known anyone in the band was sick with all of the energy they put out? The night ended with “Delirium Trigger” and “Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3” which is the title track of the album preceding Good Apollo I’m Burning IV Vol 1 (and my personal favorite album from Coheed and Cambria). In the universe of the Amory Wars, “Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3” tells the epic tale of one of the protagonists leading a resistance against a formidable space armada/army, with the battle cry “Man your battle stations!” being a big part of the chorus. It was insanely cool to hear a group of people chant something that epic as though we really were going into battle. Claudio Sanchez barely had to do much singing as the crowd really took charge of the lyrics on the final song of the night – you could even see a smile from Sanchez as though he was truly humbled by the fact that his art really resided in the hearts of a room full of people.
Overall, while I left the show soaked in probably everyone else’s sweat and I’m pretty sure someone’s shoe flew across the room and hit me, it was the most fun I’ve had at a rock concert in a long time. Coheed and Cambria has the blessing of having some of the most loyal fans in the world, especially in New York City. I left the show with more energy than I walked in the door with and Coheed played probably one of the tightest sets they could ever have played. They later returned to Terminal 5 on May 22, 2017, playing a similar setlist.
Setlist: Keeping the Blade, Always and Never, Welcome Home, Ten Speed, Crossing the Frame, Apollo 1: The Writing Writer, Once Upon Your Dead Body, Wake Up, The Suffering, The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court, Mother May I, The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End, The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth, The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut, Island Delirium Trigger, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3