Coheed and Cambria / Fred Mascherino @ NYC 10/22

November 14, 2008

The Neverender Tour is a great idea. During four nights in New York City, Coheed and Cambria will perform their entire discography–one album per night in preparation for the band’s next disc, a prequel to the entire Coheed and Cambria story. The first night tells the first part of the current Coheed and Cambria saga through The Second Stage Turbine Blade. The shows will occur at Terminal 5, a 3000 person venue, and will be filmed for a DVD package. As part of the evening’s festivities, longtime friend of the band Fred Mascherino was invited to open. Currently frontman of the dismal The Color Fred, Mascherino used to front the excellent, but now defunct, Breaking Pangaea. It was during those years that Breaking Pangaea took Coheed and Cambria on their first proper tour (explaining that the band’s first tour van didn’t even have a receiver, Mascherino noted that Coheed and Cambria instead tied a boombox to the dashboard), and Coheed and Cambria founder Claudio Sanchez couldn’t help but return the favor sending Mascherino an invitation to open the evening and indeed kick off the entire Neverender Tour.

Fred Mascherino opening the evening.

Fred Mascherino opened the evening with a mix of songs across his career. Photo by Rubén Navarro Martín.

Fred Mascherino played a mix of Breaking Pangaea songs (including “Lullaby”) and his new The Color Fred material, even doing a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” from the epic 1982 Thriller. The quality of Mascherino’s material is night and day: Breaking Pangaea songs are well-written and sound really good live; The Color Fred material is bland and forgettable, hardly interesting live.

The real attraction this evening, Coheed and Cambria‘s The Second Stage Turbine Blade began shortly after Mascherino left the stage. After title track’s eerie into, the band soon moved onto “Time Consumer” and then “Devil in Jersey City” (complete with “it’s Shabutie!”). It took the band awhile to heat up, and unfortunately that meant comparatively less-than-stellar performances of the album’s best songs.

With a new electric intro, “Hearshot Kid Disaster” began the band taking true form, destroying the studio counterparts of the rest of the album. “Junesong Provision”, once a staple in the Coheed and Cambria live show, made its triumphant return; “Neverender” never sounded better. “Godsend Conspirator” and its “IRO-Bot” counterpart were electrifying and unexpectedly powerful.

It’s unfortunate that the band took so long to hit stride, because essentials such as “Delirium Trigger” and “Everything Evil” are some of my favorite songs the band has recorded. Interestingly, various interludes followed between select songs, shaking things up slightly for those expecting certain opening riffs to follow immediately after one song’s end.

After a long break, the band returned with a three-song preview of the next seventy-two hours: “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”, “Welcome Home”, and “No World For Tomorrow”. Regrettably, I didn’t stick through the wait and missed these performances. The full set:

Second Stage Turbine Blade
Time Consumer
Devil in Jersey City
Everything Evil
Delirium Trigger
Hearshot Kid Disaster
Junesong Provision
God Send Conspirator
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Welcome Home
No World For Tomorrow

It should go without saying that adding a powerhouse drummer to your lineup will make your live show stronger; Chris Pennie, former drummer of The Dillinger Escape Plan, takes Coheed and Cambria’s live act to an entirely new plane. He’s a flawless metronome, and his new fills to the once somewhat simple debut album are a joy to experience live. While Claudio Sancehez may steal the crowd’s attention (even waving his guitar like a gun at points throughout the set), Pennie’s solid drumming is the backbone to the band’s potent live attack.

Claudio Sanchez showcasing not only his ability to write fiction, but also his ability to shred.

Claudio Sanchez with his Gibson E2. Photo by Rubén Navarro Martín.

Almost as powerful as the band’s performance were Sanchez’s words about the debut album and about his characters Coheed and Cambria. With his parents in the audience, Sanchez explained that the album’s title came from a part that his father made while working in a factory. He also explained that while the story of Coheed and Cambria began based on his life and his travels, he soon began writing the story based on the lives of his parents.

Even with a few hiccups (a slow start; the band’s catalog, including TSSTB songs, being played through the PA before sets–who wants to hear the studio version of a song you’re about to experience live), the night was put together extremely well. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the rest of the Neverender nights in New York City, but if the band’s first performance is any indication, then the rest of the albums’ treatment will be an incredibly worthwhile experience for anyone at least slightly interested in the band.

All photos by the incredible Rubén Navarro Martín.