LIVE: Coheed & Cambria / glassjaw / Crooks @ Kentish Town Forum, London

By Ben Tipple

“When Claudio [Sanchez] told us Glassjaw were being talked about, we just said ‘fuck yes. Do that’.” Coheed & Cambria drummer Josh Eppard mirrors the reaction of fans of both as the short UK tour was announced, sitting backstage at the Kentish Town Forum, ending a conversation soundtracked by the opening moments of Brighton post-hardcore Crooks from the nearby stage. On paper it’s a line-up of dreams, boasting promising upstarts, an eagerly awaited comeback and consistently phenomenal live veterans.

As Crooks do enough to cement themselves as an exciting prospect, despite some issues in delivery that suggest they could benefit from a little more coaching in the build-up to similar appearances, glassjaw immediately appear hell-bent on showing the fresh-faces exactly how it is done. Vocalist Daryl Palumbo, in the past inconsistent, explodes with a reinvigorated energy as he twists, turns and writhes around the stage. The drums and bass are particularly relentless, with the screeching guitar adding to the wall of sound.

It’s all a bit too loud, with Palumbo’s vocals often overpowered by the noise. New tracks ‘New White Extremity’ and ‘Shira’ are lost in amongst a haze of poorly levelled sound, a far cry from the set’s opening moments of ‘Tip Your Bartender’ and ‘Mu Empire’, with the single guitar overcompensating for the lack of a second. Clearly a force to behold, it’s easy to see how their recent Old Blue Last show has celebrated high acclaim. Yet with ears ringing two days later, it’s difficult to separate the strengths of the performance from the literal audible assault.

Coheed & Cambria appear timid in comparison. Softly spoken and stationary, Sanchez leads a more considered performance. Spanning their full back-catalogue, the band are no longer met by more rapturous applause for older material, as ‘Here To Mars’ from last year’s ‘The Color Before The Sun’ garners one of the biggest reactions of the evening. It’s testament to their longevity, and to the audience’s affinity to the more personal material. Sanchez appears humbled by the reaction, visibly surprised by the ferocious return of the ‘You Got Spirit, Kid’ refrain.

The band are as tight as ever, further defining themselves as one of the most accomplished live bands on today’s circuit. They retain the groove-laden afterthought on ‘You Got Spirit, Kid’, harking back to their extended progressive numbers also on show tonight. ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3’ and encore closer ‘Welcome Home’ sound as cataclysmic as they did years ago, while ‘33’ ensures that the die-hard fans leave happy. For a band who themselves admit that with a catalogue of this length it’s almost impossible to please everyone, they’ve given it a damn good shot. With it, they achieved just that.