Seeing Coheed and Cambria co-headline a tour with Taking Back Sunday in 2018 means only two things: Sweeping nostalgia and aggrandizing theatrics. Each band’s debut album was ripe with the kind of performative bloodletting that would gain them an almost cult-like following.
Coheed’s The Second Stage Turbine Blade was released in 2002 and served as the second installment in the comic book series “The Amory Wars,” penned by frontman Claudio Sanchez. Tell All Your Friends, the very first record from Taking Back Sunday, also came out that same year. Although it didn’t narrate a fictional series like The Second Stage Turbine Blade, it exposed frontman Adam Lazarra’s most personal — and perhaps unhealthy — relationships in an addictive and cinematic fashion.
Nearly two decades after the release of those albums, both entities still relish in and, capitalize off of, their poignant storytelling capabilities with complete and total ease. Last night’s (July 17) packed performance at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion cemented their prowess as more than just craggy noise rock musicians; they simply found their niche and became masters of their craft. Having Taking Back Sunday up after openers The Story So Far and before Coheed was a move that felt deliciously incongruous.
The Long Island facet were more confident than their predecessors but less ambient than the headliners. Lazarra graciously held our hands and led us down a set that was ripe with piercing angst that eventually turned to self-reflection (Tell All Your Friends was released when he was just 21 years old). “From “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?” to “Timberwolves At New Jersey” to “A Decade Under The Influence,” he flawlessly navigated a catalogue known for its unrelenting sentimentality as much as its driving melodies.
“Better Homes and Gardens” was a fascinating foray into Lazarra’s domesticity while “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” still had the same venomous bite as it did in 2002. Closing song “MakeDamnSure” was fast-paced, exhilarating, and fun — and the perfect note for Taking Back Sunday to end the evening on.
But when Coheed and Cambria were up, there was a palpable shift in energy that went from bright and agile to almost a carnal darkness. From “The Dark Sentencer” to “Here We Are Juggernaut” and “The Crowing,” Sanchez reveled in a desolate and distorted take on some of the band’s most revered songs. He was, however, still charming at times. “Blood Red Summer” and “A Favor House Atlantic” were surprisingly vigorous in their execution. “Unheavenly Creatures” was dazzling yet still jagged — a characteristic for songmaking that has always placed Sanchez in a league of his own. The final song of the night, “Welcome Home,” captured Coheed’s icy polemics seamlessly and reminded us that menacing melodrama is what they do best.
Photos by Candace McDuffie; follow her on Instagram @cmcduffie1.