Coheed & Cambria

support Eleventh He Reaches London
author PP date 22/03/06 venue The Hifi Bar, Melbourne, AUS

Now that's more like it. A few weeks ago, there was barely a line outside of The Hi-Fi Bar, despite it being sold out. But tonight, as Coheed & Cambria was preparing for their set, the line extended about 1½ blocks down from the doors. This was to be the first time ever Coheed & Cambria would perform in Melbourne, with the second time being the day after. The show had been sold out for months now as the band has been riding on Sony's incredible promotion-machine, but yet the capacity of the venue is only a mere 1,000 people. So I was considering myself lucky to be able to watch the band this close up, as they're playing the arena sized venues in the UK and the US already.

But first, lets speak of the support band, hailing from Perth, Australia: Eleventh He Reaches London. I think the name goes straight into my top5 of the most strange band names I've ever heard, a list that already features such weirdos as Fear Before The March Of Flames and HORSE The Band . Already once I saw their name on the shirts in the merch stand, I knew it would be a show worth watching, so I hurried myself down to watch them enter the stage. Now, think of the strangest entrance you can think of, and then consider the following: No lights were switched off, no lights even flashed, and I think half of the crowd hadn't even noticed the three guitarists, one bassist and the drummer on stage, before they started playing the first song. In fact, for a while I thought they were just stagecrew doing some soundcheck, as the lights weren't moving, flashing or changing colors at all.

Let me just warn you, there is no way I'll fit everything into just these three paragraphs I'm writing about this band. There's just too much to write, too much to discover and too few words to tell how fucking amazing this band is. They've been playing their first song for three minutes with a subtle, beautiful melody, supported by quiet drumming. Then suddenly Ian, one of the guitarists, opens his mouth and lets out a heartscraping scream. Then in comes the unbeliavable tempo changes and time signatures so unique, that it left me wondering if I was just imagining things. Boom! Punk riffs. Oh no, that lasted two seconds only? In comes a guitar solo so beautiful I'm about to cry tears (I'm not kidding). The solo stays in, the punk riff comes in again. Stops. Then from out of nowhere comes a metal-like pound from the guitars, and all of a sudden it all drops down to a near-acoustic jazz-jamming. Then in the midst of it all, the Intronaut-type growling has changed to a rather screamo-like one, only to followed by a soared, grunge-like voice. And suddenly he is speaking. Then whispering. Then the growl attacks me again and I'm left stranded on an island with one million beautiful supermodels who all wanna have sex with me and an unlimited supply of free beer. Perfection. I was standing there staring at the band, loving them to death with each blink, with my mout half open, and my brains trying to understand what the hell it exactly is that I am witnessing right now? Is that Between The Buried And Me? Yes! No wait, now they sound like Intronaut? What, now it's like Isis? Ephel Duath? Can't be. And now slightly similar to Coheed? What is this? At the same time as having clear references to all of these bands, they sound so far off from them that it renders such references useless. 20 minutes down the set and we're only on the third song, and the impossible song structures still leave me comprehending how it even is possible to have a slow guitar line similar to those of Between The Buried And Me at the same time as the drums are pounded as if the world was about to end, and the other two guitars are doing something entirely different. I could keep writing more about how they sound but I would never be able to describe it with any other words than pure perfection.

So how about their showmanship? Back to the BTBAM references again: if you've ever seen them live, or seen a live video of them, you know that their material is so technical they can't move much, but somehow they are surrounded by a mysterious aura that doesn't make one require movement from the band. That's how Eleventh He Reaches London look like during the jazz-jamming sessions of the songs. But once the songs change tempo, they go mad on stage. It's difficult to describe how they move around, but I think the word "maniac" would be the correct word to describe the lead singer and the two other guitarists. Both of these elements were perfectly balanced out and fitted the movements and structures in the actual music so well, that the audience was in a constant ambiguity on what would happen next. So despite the somewhat messy sound, they have earnt the best grade I've ever given to a support act in my 70+ shows I've seen in my life. It's just too bad as great music as this is wasted on most of the audience, because they can't understand the amount of depth in bands like this one.

9

Now that I had witnessed 50 minutes (!!, incredible amount of time for a support act, and they only performed 6-7 songs) of perfection, I found it hard to believe Coheed & Cambria could come anywhere near them, specially after the last time I saw them in December. But like always, Claudio & co were able to prove me wrong by putting out their best performance I've ever seen from them. Straight from the usual intro "Keeping The Blade", followed by "Welcome Home", Claudio ripped the stage apart by the moshing like we've all seen him do before, only this time it was far, far more vigorous than before. He stormed across the stage with his hair flying around, while still being able to play the introduction to the song spot on. "Devil In Jersey City" was the other highlight together with "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth", which both saw Claudio almost thrash his guitar by damn near hitting the drumset and the bassist due to his erratic movements across the stage.

Claudio himself didn't need to sing much as the crowd was singing along with its full power, and he often left blank lyrics to be filled in by the audience. Not too many, but not too few either. "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth" produced about a hundred times more noise than I ever thought possible from a crowd of only 1,000 people. But when Claudio actually was singing, the sound was crystal clear. It was easy to recognize every single note and riff, while at the same time each lyric could be understood even if you were one of those who hadn't ever heard some of the songs before. So what made this show different from the one I saw in December? Well for one, this time the band performed with such passion that I didn't feel bored at any point during the gig. Not even during the usual marathon version of "The Final Cut", where Claudio always plays a part of the guitar solo above his head/behind his back. But also the small anecdotes like the occasional face-playing of the guitar, as well as the one hundred percent honest words of Claudio: "It's nice to see so many of you, thank you for coming". Each and every member of the crowd felt like the thanks were directed towards him/her only.

It's nice to see that Coheed & Cambria are still so passionate about playing live, even after four years of almost constant touring. It's also nice to see that despite the major-label horror stories, they still do their thing on stage and project their passion straight at the crowd. I'm glad that they still keep playing the old classics like "Blood Red Summer" and "Everything Evil", and even though they left out "The Velorium Camper", "Delirium Trigger" and "Neverender", I didn't leave the venue in a bad mood. Somehow, this tracklisting was the perfect possible one for tonight's show. Now I REALLY can't wait for Roskilde Festival this summer.

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Setlist:

1. Keeping The Blade

2. Welcome Home

3. Ten Speed (Of God's Blood And Burial)

4. Blood Red Summer

5. Apollo I: The Writing Writer

6. Once Upon Your Dead Body

7. A Favor House Atlantic

8. Wake Up

9. The Suffering

10. Devil In Jersey City

11. Everything Evil

--Encore--

12. In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth

13. The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut

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