I’ll make my concluding argument first: Coheed and Cambria’s show at Webster Hall (NYC, October 11) was easily one of the five best shows I’ve seen in more than thirty years of concert-going. I put it up there with Springsteen’s “The River” tour in 1981, Genesis, Rush, and Yes (with the Wakeman-White-Howe-Anderson-Squire lineup), just edging out seeing Stan Getz in a basement club in Cambridge in the mid-80s. What do all of those shows have in common? Incredible passion by the performers for their music and interaction with the audience. A strong reinforcement that live music is the best (and maybe last) hope for the recording industry, because it creates memories that add value to the studio productions. Musicianship equal to showmanship, dexterity with axes and production.
Sampling all six albums, without over-doing it on the recently dropped “Afterman” (all of 48 hours old at that point), picking songs that got the thousand-plus on the floor and balcony singing at the top of their lungs, there was something for every shape of Coheed fan (and we come in a lot of different shapes). While hearing “Welcome Home” is akin to having Yes play “Roundabout” — you expect it and have heard it at every show, but it still gives you a little back of the neck tingle — hearing “The Final Cut” (last part of “Willing Well”) live, with extended Travis Stever-Claudio solo trading, was jaw-dropping.
In the middle of bouncing, crowd surfing, singing and energetic fan response, Claudio Sanchez found time to shout out to his father (who was on the balcony), offer some insight into songs from the new album, and to sincerely thank the fans. Josh Eppard looked like he was having the time of his life pounding on the drums, and Zach kept the vocals and bass line tight. When a band is firing on all cylinders, it’s a wonder to behold; you’re sad when it’s over and only think of when you’ll get to experience that again. It’s a drug that creates instead of destroying, and should most definitely be shared.
Coheed and Cambria will headline another tour in the spring, in support of the second part of Afterman. Yes, I’m counting the weeks.