On October 5th just gone, progressive rockers Coheed and Cambria released their longest album to date, The Unheavenly Creatures. Or to give it its full title, Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures. With a name like that you would be correct in your assumption that this new record continues the long-running saga of the Amory Wars concept which has been the focus of each of Coheed’s albums barring 2015’s The Colour Before The Sun. Tonight’s show in Manchester is number 4 out of a short run of 6 UK shows and the first chance for those in attendance to hear the new songs live and in the flesh.
As the lights go down and the prologue to “The Dark Sentencer” twinkles and pulses through the PA, it’s hard to see where anyone else could squeeze in as the floor of the venue is packed to capacity. I’ve seen Coheed live a few times in various settings and there is a definite formula to their shows; chunky riffs, technical noodling, short bursts of prowling and storming around the stage, an eye-melting light show. That’s not to say that having a formula is a bad thing, for me this is a band that works better live than on record as they’ve honed their performance and sound over the 20+ years they’ve been going.
There are some “Unheavenly Creatures” in this new track from Coheed & Cambria.
With a new record out, it’s no surprise that those songs get pride of place in the setlist but with 14 songs on the menu in an almost 2 hour set, there is ample time for the Cambrians to delve into their back catalogue and air out some older tracks like “Devil in Jersey City”, “The Crowing”, “Ten Speed” and, my personal favourite, “Welcome Home”.
It was one of those shows that gave the crowd exactly what they wanted and this was best represented by the three guys I saw post-show who obviously enjoyed themselves so much that they figured the best way to flag down a passing taxi was by standing in the middle of the road playing air guitar. FYI: The taxi didn’t stop.