Coheed and Cambria make triumphant return

Coheed and Cambria at the Commodore Ballroom, 9/12/18

Photo by Peter Ruttan

It’s been five long years since Nyack, New York’s Coheed and Cambria rocked Vancouver’s stages. But on Wednesday night, following a show the night before, Coheed played to a sold out crowd at the Commodore Ballroom, managing to make the long wait worth it.

Lead singer, guitarist and prog-rock mastermind Claudio Sanchez looked genuinely happy to be back.

“It’s been a long time Vancouver,” a smiling Sanchez said later in the show, clearly impressed by the crowd who was singing along to almost every word. “It’s really great to be back.”

And the band proved that happiness with a performance that will resonate with fans for a long time.

Coheed and Cambria @ The Commodore Ballroom
Photo by Peter Ruttan

Almost operatic in scope, the band started off on a quieter note with the prologue from their new album The Heavenly Creatures. They then kicked it up 13 notches with the thundering “The Dark Sentencer,” also a new track. A highlight of the evening was “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth:3,” which filled the room with “woahs” as everyone sang at the top of their already raspy lungs. And aside from the ballad “Wake Up,” Coheed never relented that energy, pounding through each anthem until they brought the house down with “Welcome Home” at the end of the night.

To explain the prologue and the interesting song titles, Coheed’s albums are mostly based on the Armory Wars, a galactic tail about Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon’s struggle with the evil villain, Wilhelm Ryan. So it is the music and this story that attracts a diverse group of fans to the band’s shows. In addition to an engaging storyline, early on in their career Coheed toured with punk and heavier bands like Thrice, Slipnot and AFI. This resulted in not just an undefinable sound, but an eclectic, dedicated audience ranging from punks and metal heads to comic fans and cow-eyed dads who got a field trip pass from their partner.

This diverse audience was treated to an impressive performance from Sanchez and his band mates. With every head-bang of his signature, and godly, locks (Lesser known fact: Chuck Norris lost a arm wrestle to his hair once), Sanchez’s vocals soared and screamed and sometimes crooned to thousands of attendees all singing along with fists in the air.

Coheed and Cambria @ The Commodore Ballroom
Photo by Peter Ruttan

Clad head-to-toe in the black, Coheed played with an intensity and enthusiasm lacking at rock shows these days. But along with that intensity there was light-heartedness to the show, with band members regularly smiling and Sanchez playfully wrapping his microphone cord around guitarist Travis Stever’s neck at one point.

Overall, the setlist was one for the diehard fans, made up of sing-along favourites like “Devil in Jersey City,” “A Favour House Atlantic” and “The Suffering.” After the incredible 15 songs were properly delivered, you could hear the claps of people high-fiving while exiting the Commodore.

“That was the best Coheed show ever,” said a beaming, sweaty fan. “They played every song I wanted to hear.”

He was right.