Live Reviews

Coheed & Cambria – Live

Plus: Madina Lake, Fightstar, Circa Survive.
Southampton Guildhall

There’s a somewhat curious reception for Circa Survive this evening. Perhaps it’s because as the clock strikes 7:30 the band are already onstage, despite tickets for tonight’s show advertising a similar door time. More likely, however, is the fact that their experimental, ultimately ambient soundscapes are a totally new experience for most of the crowd in attendance. Front man Anthony Green’s distinctive howl cuts through the air like a hot knife through butter, and though it can often become slightly overpowering, their short set – one that’s attracted fans from as far a field as Norway – sets the tone for the night ahead regardless.

The moment Charlie Simpson strides out this evening, the howl that goes up from just about every female in attendance is deafening. Although the Fightstar vocalist may never truly escape the shadow of his past, when he and his band mates blast into the likes of Deathcar, with its Deftones-heavy undertones that see Simpson handing his guitar over to a tech and racing around the stage in a blur of bushy eyebrows, it’s clear that this is very much a real band, rather than the novelty so many would have dismissed it as two years ago.

Say what you will about them on record, but from the moment Madina Lake stride out to the ecstatic wails of thousands, the Chicago four-piece prove themselves to be one of the most thoroughly entertaining and energetic live bands on the circuit. With the crowd in full voice, singing along with lung-bursting passion to the likes of Pandora and the anthemic House Of Cards, tonight their energy is utterly infectious. As they unleash four giant, confetti-filled balloons upon the crowd, it’s impossible to deny that this is a band that knows how to work a crowd just as well as Bill Gates can work a laptop, culminating with front man Nathan Leone diving headfirst into the crowd.

Despite such antics, tonight it’s Coheed & Cambria who shine brightest. Currently a seven-piece band – featuring a keyboard player and two backing singers, so as to ensure the band lost none of the prominent vocal harmonies that are such a huge part of their sound on record – the New Yorkers sounds as massive as they now look. Plundering most of their now impressive catalogue, songs like the ever-present Favor House Atlantic get the entire crowd singing, while new cuts such as Gravemakers And Gunslingers ensure a similarly large amount of movement.

There’s even a rampant run through Iron Maiden’s The Trooper for good measure, main man Claudio Sanchez aiming his guitar at the crowd like a gun and shredding with the grin of a man possessed. It’s the mark of a band growing bigger with every show – both in popularity and confidence – a fact that’s evident during set closer Welcome Home. A song of epic proportions in its own right, tonight it positively soars, visibly and sonically boosted by the mammoth line-up before us. As the song reaches its guitar-led climax, a thousand colours dancing in the background as a thousand fists pump the air, you can’t help but wonder just how high Coheed & Cambria may rise in the coming months and years. You wonder just how many people the band may consist of next time they grace our shores. Above all else, you wonder just how incredible such a spectacle may actually be.

Ryan Bird

Photos by Graham Pentz @ G-Tizzle Photography