(First posted on http://www.recessiondodgetovictory.wordpress.com on 15/11/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

A glance at the ticket in the morning to ensure that I have the correct O2 venue this time and… wait, what’s this? Doors 6.30pm? On a Friday?!  This requires further investigation.

As with my Gojira gig, I hadn’t managed to get a listen to Coheed and Cambria‘s latest effort “The Afterman: Ascension” but quickly remedied that thanks to some Youtube listening at work and holy shit are they back! The title track holds up to the likes of “Feathers” while “Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute”  is sure to stand out as a long-term fan favourite,  while the rest of the ‘Key Entity’ series on the album adds a crunchy, heaviness that was only ever really hinted at through the likes of “We Are Juggernaught” and “Welcome Home” on previous albums. If I wasn’t sure about this gig beforehand, I was now!

And what’s more, a cursory glance at Setlistfm revealed that despite the fact that there was only one support in Fighting With Wire, the 6.30pm start was an indicator of some truly epic news: in their previous gigs in London, the headliners played an accoustic set before unleashing a full regular set. THIS was the Coheed and Cambria I missed when I saw them in Tokyo, where Claudio himself was looking at the crowd’s complete silence after their polite claps and shrugging his shoulders only to make cactus blowing motions with his hands and over the mic (it’s a cultural thing dude, don’t sweat it).

I also had a look at the support and unfortunately their music just never really grabbed me and so I didn’t mind heading in until 7pm where I caught the last half of their set, picked up a hoody from the headliners for 35 quid and bought a cider and blackcurrant for £3.70 – ouch! I’m glad to support the band though, if not the venue.

But unfortunately, things did not bode well. Not unlike Tokyo, I was stuck behind two staggering, beer-guzzlers and although they were less obnoxious than Captain America from that particular festival, I swore to myself I wouldn’t allow anyone like that to ruin my gigs in future and so, I ventured further into the crowd. Normally this wouldn’t be so noteworthy but as I motioned through there was a noticeable change in the demographic as I slid through 25-35 year olds and couples at the back into the mostly teenage throng at the front. Although, I was really happy to see the diversity of fans that Coheed and Cambria have picked up over the years I couldn’t help but feel a little old…

All differences were cast aside when Claudio Sanchez took to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar and started to belt out “Pearl of the Stars” for what felt like the whole room to sing along with every word he put out. He was soon joined by the rest of the band and as they folded in behind him, I hoped for “A Favour House Atlantic” since it was a song a listened to a lot when I missed my girlfriend when I was abroad. And true enough, there it was, second song on the list. Good times.

Truly a fantastic set. “Mother Superior” and Wake Up” were tracks that I would skip or not give much attention to when listening through their albums (so much so that I was suprised that I remembered most of the words to sing along with them) but hearing them again gave me new pause to focus attention on them, just as Gojira had done with their live show only 3 days prior.

And yet there was so much more to come. The band returned to the stage with more of a fan fare at 8.30pm for their full set, which included old stalwarts like “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”, “Everything Evil” and of course “Welcome Home” all the while throwing in new hits periodically without smothering the set with them like bands promoting a new album are often prone to doing. Personally, I came for “Here We Are Juggernaut” and I wasn’t disappointed despite feeling like a bit of a juggernaut myself amongst the younger crowd as I threw my head back upon hearing the opening riff and started jumping.

Speaking of bouncing, the one noteworthy vibe I got from the gig compared to previous ones was that it was less bouncy than I remember Coheed ever being – perhaps due to the evolution in direction they’ve had from punky routes to an increasingly showy, progressive feel. I don’t think the band have suffered for it, as we saw with fans young and old singing from the same hymn sheet for the acoustic set: it’s just a little different to the band I got into back when “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth – 3” was released.

Naturally, if they come back, I’ll be there to see them again but this time I hope that they return to Scotland – not to promote a new album, but simply to come and play music. You could argue that they did just that with this gig but to my mind there are just so many songs that they don’t seem to play very often any more that deserve recognition in their own tour.

How amazing would that be? A tour comprised of songs based purely on the tunes that get the highest votes from an online vote… stranger things could happen – Coheed and Cambria have been and will always be a band of possibilities.

Acoustic Music:

Regular set:

(I think I’m right behind the camera on this particular video)