Coheed and Cambria

support Oceansize
author TL date 08/04/08 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

So it seems that on the second try Coheed and Cambria wouldn't manage to bring us Circa Survive as support. Somewhat of a disappointment to the eager concert-goers but as a replacement tonight we get to see Oceansize instead, and from what I make of the turnout, Pumpehuset might not be entirely sold out, but there's still a very decent crowd filling up the venue. So after a quick chat with Chris Pennie, formerly of Dillinger Escape Plan and now swinging sticks in Co&Ca, I meet up with AP and we get into position on the side rafters of the venues wall so we have a nice view of what Oceansize is up to.

Oceansize

And what they are up to is a well delivered burst of their particular brand of experimental rock. The 5 guys are remarkably tight, navigating their way through the strange compositions by means of a wide array of effects. The stage performance follows the songs in classical progressive building up, coming from silence and restraint while the ambient soundscapes set the mood, only to expand continuously, assuming bigger and bigger sonic proportions as the bandmembers passionately get into it on stage. From the point of one who's never heard the band before it all seems pretty interesting albeit not overly exciting, as Oceansize's stage performance manages to inspire just enough curiosity for one to take notice of the richness of detail in their expression. Nevertheless, here a week after the gig, I find myself hard pressed to remember anything from the show, and this at least forces me to conclude that the support was in fact not all that exciting.

Coheed and Cambria

When it comes to Coheed and Cambria I could simply say what most should know even if they have never seen them live. They are a band of extraordinary instrumental and compositional capability, and seeing them live leaves you in no doubt of that. First song of the set is "No World For Tomorrow", closely followed by "Gravemakers And Gunslingers". After the performance of the mini-solos of that particular song my mind is stunned and thinking only words along the lines of "holy FUCK, hand me a cigarette because I think I just came..!". Now here however, is where I'm going to ask the fanatic fans to just skip ahead to the grade, because as I was to find, it wasn't going to be all roses for Claudio and his boys. After "Gravemakers..", cracks in the statue start appearing to me, such as the sound being much too loud for instance, as sticking my fingers in my ears reveal that the band sound far too well to need to hide it under excessive volume [I didn't find it loud? - Ed.]. The next couple of songs are performed flawlessly yet even "A Favor House Atlantic" still fails to inspire the excitement the band is capable off and as "Feathers" draws towards an end, I'm making a mental note to comment on the band's poor choice of a set.

That's when the real show starts. For three beautiful songs, the show is a straight up 10 - A shining star of a performance where everything adds up and my jaw remains as stuck to the floor. The subtle dynamics between the palm muted picking and crunching chords of "Everything Evil" outline with all possible clarity just how much better Coheed and Cambria actually were in their earlier day, as the mood is suddenly that certain kind that only a unique performance can generate. That's when Coheed and Cambria go for everything, launching into Iron Maiden's classic "The Trooper", succesfully puzzling all their poor rock'n'roll-challenged new fans and bringing ecstasy to the few die hard guitar heroes in the audience. The song is made of sheer 'awesome' and the band's performance does it justice, and the only thing that could possibly be wrong with playing it is that it's one tough act to follow. Something the band gets away with rather decently by playing one of their very best songs, namely "Devil In Jersey City", succesfully extending the momentum they've gained.

And then suddenly it's over. I don't even remember how or by what song, but the change in the flow of the show is as tangible as the person next to me. It's back to the ordinary level, an ordinary show, where the band caters to its new fans, including newer songs that, in all fairness, do not measure up to the older ones that are left out - But before I go on, let me just take a second off to rant about the choir. What kind of rock band pulls in a duo of women to sing pretty on top of their choruses? Despite myself not being a fan of Claudio's vocals, his technique is impeccable and he should quite frankly be above needing the support of such a cheap gimmick, which gives the songs a weird sound to them in addition to the two looking very much out of place on stage. YUCK! Ignoring the choir's presence I regain focus and notice how we are of course treated to "The Running Free" and the monumental "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth", the latter almost raising the show up to a higher level again, had it not fallen a bit short on behalf of the soundlevel rearing its uglier head again. For the encore we remain as un-surprised, as Claudio pulls out the double-neck guitar for a rendition of "Welcome Home", and after that it is time for one of the band's infamous jazz odysseys. For a long while Claudio and Travis trade solos, spiced up with some sort of air-tube (yes, the same as in the Snoop Dogg video) and some weird device that seems to amplify radio-interference. The artistic masturbation goes on for a while as we get hammered into our skulls just how good the dudes are, until they finally leave the stage in order to give room for consecutive solos from the remaining bandmembers, ending with an impressive display by Chris Pennie. The guys then come back for a final bit of an actual song (The End Complete? I am not sure) after which the show ends for definite.

Now with the knowledge of Coheed that I have, and with the amount of shows I have seen, it is hard for me not to sound a bit bitter, ranting over the amount of things I think this band could have done to present itself at its very best, but even with all of that taken into consideration, even I cannot deny that to witness Claudio and his band is to witness a well of excessive musicianship that is a spectacle on its own accord. Seldom do you get treated to such ear-bleeding solos or inventive compositions as those Coheed and Cambria are capable of, and seldom do you witness a performance as capable and present as theirs, and miss-steps and wankery in mind, I still have to rate the show as one you really should kick yourself for missing.

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