Coheed and Cambria – Gig Review 6th May @ Max Watts, Melbourne

Coheed And Cambria
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
May 5th, 2016
Supported by Closure In Moscow

Underrated local supports Closure In Moscow exacted their wondrously technical and engrossing brand of self-proclaimed ‘teen rock’ with dizzying aplomb on a characteristically temperate Autumnal Friday in Melbourne’s Max Watts (née The Hi-Fi Bar). Spasmodic and bracing abuse of song structure and time signatures are par for the course with these rollicking Melbournians at the helm; a trademark which had a largely unfamiliar audience transfixed for the duration of their all to brief thirty-something minute set.

Coming off like a eclectic mash of the best bits of early The Mars Volta, The Sound Of Animals Fighting, and late-career My Chemical Romance, CIM are certainly brilliant and creative musicians; punching out catchy pop-rock spatterings between odyssean forays in to flat-stick prog mastery that left no moment dull from early career opener Vanguard to gloriously punchy finisher Happy Days. Their 2015 album of the year contender Pink Lemonade should be considered a national treasure, but much like the work of Toehider or Cog, this country’s perpetual inability to recognize less conventional but supremely more masterful rock and roll means Closure releases routinely fly under the radar (good work, Richard Kingsmill… you dick head).

Never-the-less, a willingly open minded local audience more accustomed to the joys truly immersive, avant-garde rock can evoke were revelling in CIM’s pearler of a show. Bathed in appropriately garish pink light for much of the set,  front man Christopher de Cinque was a force with which to be reckoned while jauntily and idiosyncratically pulling shapes and darting about the stage. His bellowing falsetto is almost incomprehensibly powerful, and a prime representation of blinding vocal talent that refused to waver in face of Closure’s particularly sesquipedalian lyrical structure.

Every member of Closure In Moscow should be monumentally proud of their peerless efforts on Friday night, and have doubtlessly converted a few fair weather listeners in to legitimate fans. Awesome work, gentlemen.

Coheed and Cambria are an institution of prog-based, genre-defying musical, lyrical, and conceptual perspicaciousness. To every willing punter at every single one of their gigs, this is stating the glaringly obvious; devotees of the band are already enraptured with all the music, comics, book, and art that define Coheed’s legacy. The band’s ability to have even conceived of and executed such an entirely unique legion of songs over the last 15 years is tantamount to playing a brilliant, passionate live set on any given night long before they’ve ever even played it, such is the deeply personal and efficacious affect they have on their unwaveringly faithful fans.

Friday in Melbourne was no different. Guitarist Travis Stever and front man Claudio Sanchez graced the stage to ease the crowd in with lithe and acoustic mid-album ‘Ghost‘ from their latest effort The Colour Before The Sun, before drummer Josh Eppard and Bassist Zac Cooper joined them to blaze through the Homeric ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3’; eponymous opener to their most beloved album. It sent Max Watts in to a complete tizz, and set a precedence for the juxtaposed set list of fast and slow/ epic and succinct to come.

Infectiously catchy, ‘Blood Red Summer followed, and burst from the get go with audience participation. There really is nothing like belting out lyrics along with a room full of folks who love them as much as you do. New favourite and Colour Before The Sun opener ‘Island‘ followed in all it’s shimmering glory. Immediately jumping back to their first album with the grittier ‘Devil In Jersey City’ set the crowd on fire, and was the first time Melbourne had heard anything from The Second Stage Turbine Blade in six years. The last time was at the dawn of this decade when Claudio and co. banded all the hits from that album together in a medley toward the end of a set at The Palace (née The Metro). It had certainly been a while, and you could tell by the crowds joyous reaction.

‘Key Entity Exactraction V: Sentry The Defiant’ was a ripper, as was ‘A Favour House Atlantic’; a crowd favourite, and almost inarguably Coheed’s most popular song. Two more new songs in the form of the uplifting ‘Here To Mars’ and the hook-driven ‘Eraser’ followed, before the heavily post-hardcore and mouthy ‘The Hard Sell’ got the joint well and truly head banging.

The blinding and crescendoing career-definer ‘The Crowing’, and the engrossingly cyclic and calm new album finisher ‘Peace To The Mountain’ rounded out the main set in a wondrously contrasting fashion. Their fever pitched audience was having none of the mandatory encore break, and chanted both creatively non-stop until the band came back on a few minutes later. Upon their stage return, Coheed were sincerely moved by the audience’s desire to see more of them, telling us to tell others on social media how to act before the encore from now on. “I know it sounds corny, or whatever”, Claudio expressed, “But we’re the band with the comic books, so fuck it”.

For a band with such conceptually lofty and labyrinthian content, Coheed favour a disarmingly small amount of audience interactivity, instead letting their music do the talking. It’s a welcomed approach for a group that have so many deeply beloved songs to get through in the length of a show. Even at ninety minutes, stalwart fans will inevitably wish the New York quartet stuck around for at least double the length of time (this reviewer included). When Claudio does address the audience on behalf of his band, it’s with unmitigated humility and charm. He briefly iterates sincere thanks, seemingly gobsmacked at just how much a bunch of strangers sixteen-and-a-half thousand kilometres away from his home town adore C&C’s songs, before launching back in to their faultless live execution of a varying Amory Wars classics.

Latest single ‘You’ve Got Spirit Kid’ opened the encore, trailed by the truly glorious classic ‘Everything Evil’, and finally ‘Welcome Home’; A ball-tearer and the group’s heaviest song. A slew of duelling solos from Claudio and Travis, the aforementioned of which did so on his famous double-necked guitar, were the trade mark finish to a night out with a band that have bringing their audience unbridled joy down to a science. Don’t be strangers, you absolute champions.

by Todd Gingell

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