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It’s always a pleasure when Coheed and Cambria announce a visit to the UK shores. It’s only been a mere six months since their last jaunt over here with the phenomenal Glassjaw as part of their The Color Before The Sun world tour. This time however, the visit is for Reading & Leeds fest – but why stop there? Why not throw in a couple of warm up shows before you hit the Reading & Leeds Festival main stage?

Opening support tonight comes from mewithoutyou, who I don’t get to see due to arriving at the venue slightly later than planned. By the time I get inside, second support La Dispute have just taken to the stage in the stiflingly hot O2 Ritz.

La Dispute are a band I’d followed for many years but the opportunity to see them live had never really arisen. Their brand of passive and angsty post-hardcore feels somewhat lacking in the huge expanse of the room in which they have found themselves. Paired with the uncomfortable heat and retiring back outside until Coheed are due on is the much the preferable option.

As the lights go down for Coheed it becomes abundantly clear who the capacity crowd are here for – no surprise; the electricity pouring from the crowd and the stage is palpable. Claudio and Travis alone open the set with “Ghost” before the rest of the band appear and kick into “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3“. The band, and particularly Claudio, are decidedly animated tonight and their excitement is matched by the crowd, despite the heat.

Moving through a set pulled largely from their newest offering The Color Before The Sun, Coheed prove more than capable of dusting off some classics to keep the crowd on their toes. With a double hit of “Everything Evil” and “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant“, the capacity crowd take in the electricity bursting from the stage. The majesty of Coheed is that their material covers the widest variety of subjects; love song “Here To Mars” sees several couple-based sing alongs.

The greatest hits will always be expected at a Coheed show, and as the band launch into “No World For Tomorrow” the crew find time to get a fan on stage for drummer Josh Eppard who is about three hits away from becoming a human puddle of sweat.

The band play on. The heat by this point is completely unbearable but bear it we must. As “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” paves way for the delightfully whimsical Beatles-esque anthem “Peace To The Mountain“, which finishes the main set beautifully. Of course, Coheed haven’t played “Welcome Home” yet, so of course they’re going to do an encore…

You Got Spirit Kid” is brilliantly divisive song; those who worship at the altar of old Coheed seem to completely miss its sincerity and nods back to the band’s emo beginnings, and casual fans will recoil in horror as it doesn’t sound like something they could play on Guitar Hero – but the track is an arena anthem; its massive chorus is a spectacle live and it’s clear from the smiles on stage just how much of a kick the band get from playing this song.

As the band launch into a cover of Nirvana’s “Drain You” my interest meanders; sure, they do it in their trademark style with all the bombastic brilliance they’ve moulded into the Coheed package, but the song to begin with just isn’t very good. But all is forgotten as the crowd are given one final opportunity to loose their shit. “Welcome Home” is here and its lyrics are sung with such passion by the crowd you’d be forgiven for forgetting just how uncomfortably stifling it is in here. Getting out of the venue isn’t a fun experience – over fifteen hundred sweaty people all making for the same tiny exits in order to gain some modicum of anything resembling fresh air will always be something I never want to remember – but I will always remember the following.

Coheed and Cambria are one of the most entertaining live bands on the planet, or any other planet for that matter. Their songs are performed with the due care and attention that they’re written with and Claudio Sanchez et al will always endeavour to make sure that even a casual concert goer will have a good time at one of their shows. So until next time guys! Thank you.

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