Coheed and Cambria – Kentish Town Forum, London (13/06/23)14th June 2023
Just nine months after their last London date, Coheed and Cambria are back in the UK capital.
This time, they’re celebrating their 2007 album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow, by playing it in full. It’s the sequel to what may genuinely be my favorite album of all time, which I cruelly missed out on seeing performed back in 2017. Still, this ambitious concept album is quite the achievement – we’re in for a treat.
But first, we had to sit through a pop-rock band. Wait. That was actually just my completely unfair expectation of Soul Glo. In reality, they’re a phenomenally energetic hardcore punk band (so hardcore at times that they border on grind) who earned themselves a new fan almost instantly. Pierce Jordan’s unassuming glasses and can of Camden Hells are a complete juxtaposition to his vocal, which ranges from spiky rap, to shrill shrieks and even deep, guttural growls. If you need someone to truly warm up your audience, then this is your band.
After a thirty-minute break, the gentle acoustic guitar of ‘The Reaping’ opens Coheed’s set with beautifully melodic melancholy. Claudio Sanchez stands dramatically in the center of the stage, with his majestic mane of hair gently shimmering, and delivers his unique, never-aging vocal with poise.
‘No World For Tomorrow’ is the first of the night’s operatic prog rock epics, and it delivers in just the fashion you’d expect, with the rapturous crowd belting every line back at the band. Three huge pop rock bangers follow in the form of ‘The Hound (Of Blood And Rank)’, ‘Feathers’ and ‘The Running Free’. These also act as a lubricant for the band themselves, as they start to loosen up and wander the stage with impressive energy.
‘Mother Superior’ is arguably the centerpiece of No World For Tomorrow, and the response from the crowd seems to confirm this. From its dramatic opening moments to its euphoric climax, every note is perfect. Claudio effortlessly plays and sings parts that must feel as easy as breathing fifteen years after he wrote them; Josh Eppard nails drum parts that were originally performed by the late Taylor Hawkins.
After two more excellent examples of Coheed and Cambria’s control over the pop-rock genre, it’s time to settle in for the album’s dramatic, multi-part climax. It doesn’t flow as well as the stunning ‘The Willing Well’ suite from Volume One, but each track satisfies an itch that ranges from almost classical flourishes, via tender, heartfelt melodies, to gritty, metal-inspired breakdowns that convince Sanchez to dust off his piercing scream.
The bold choice to end their set with a selection of tracks from their newest album, Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind is an interesting one. While the likes of ‘Shoulders’ and ‘A Disappearing Act’ are nice enough as bouncy pop-rock tracks, the album just lacks the vision and exploration of No World For Tomorrow. Ending the entire set with the really rather weak ‘Ladders Of Supremacy’ when ‘Mother Superior’ set the room alight more than an hour ago is a disappointing dud. But what do I know? The crowd remained almost the same energy as they had during the album, even bringing out the poppiest mosh pit of all time during the admittedly excellent ‘The Liars Club’.
Coheed and Cambria might have lost some of their appeal to me in recent years, but their back catalog remains one of the best in the world and their new sounds seem to have brought in a whole new wave of admirers.
No World For Tomorrow
No World for Tomorrow
The Hound (Of Blood and Rank)
The Running Free
Gravemakers & Gunslingers
Justice in Murder
The End Complete I: The Fall of House Atlantic
The End Complete II: Radio Bye Bye
The End Complete III: The End Complete
The End Complete IV: The Road and the Damned
The End Complete V: On the Brink
The Embers of Fire
Rise, Naianasha (Cut the Cord)
A Disappearing Act
The Liars Club
Ladders of Supremacy