Alan Smithee

Neverender: Second Stage Turbine Blade Tour 2011 Impressions

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For a world filled with people who claim to have faith in their religion, being a man that lacks that himself doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve never experienced a religious moment. They are usually rare, and more often than not don’t have jack to do with God at all…and I’m lucky to have had two of them in the relatively short span of the last six months.

The first such example for me was the release of Tron: Legacy and going to see it at an amazing IMAX screen with a sound system that was so powerful that my clothes were rippling from the bass. The second was getting to meet the guys from Coheed & Cambria, interview Travis Stever, and watch them perform a show that lasted for almost 3 solid hours.

The day of the concert, May 3rd, was a very typical day for me…minus the whole knowing what was coming that night. I got up at a normal time, got ready for the day like any person who works the grave shift employee does and waited for my cohort Ryan (the very same Ryan Thomason from right here at WPR) to show up at my house so we could carpool to SLC for the show.

We arrived on the scene at “In The Venue” and saw the ginormous line that stretched around the club and about 3 blocks down the street. We were lucky enough to score passes to get in before the doors opened in order to have an interview with the group’s most excellent guitarist Travis Stever who was a blast to talk to.

After the interview with Travis, we went back to the general admission area to get ready for the meet and greet. I know it may seem a bit silly but when Claudio entered the area, I swear the VIP fans fell silent. They were willing to take pics and sign just about anything, as I proved with the signed Keywork I got tattooed on my shoulder over a year ago.

So as Ryan and I head towards the group to get our usual nervous introductions out of the way, the thing that struck me the most is that after we announced who we were and what we were representing, Claudio’s eyes lit up and recognized the name of our humble website. He exclaimed, “Oh! WatchPlayRead? I didn’t know you guys were here in Utah” which led me to believe that my reviews of The Amory Wars haven’t gone unnoticed…even by a rock star like Claudio Sanchez.

After the short meet and greet with the band Travis jumped on stage and shared with the audience a solitary track from his solo project Davenport Cabinet. The song “Nostalgia in Stereo” is the titular track from his album and was even better live acoustic than on the CD. The video is posted below, so you can be the judge. Sadly, after those two items, the VIP experience ended all to quickly and it was time to allow the throngs of adoring fans to enter the venue…which told me it was time to go to the 21+ area of the venue which not only had a great view, but allowed me to quench my thirst on a delicious Blue Moon draught.

The show began shortly after I finished my beer and the most intriguing bit is that it was an all-acoustic set that featured not only some of their best known ‘softer’ songs like “Always and Never”, “Pearl of the Stars”, and “Mother Superior”…but also some surprises like The Prizefighter Inferno’s “Who Watches The Watchmen?” and their acoustic rendition of “Here We Are Juggernaut”.

The audience was really enjoying this low-key set, but the real show came after they finished with their playlist. It wasn’t long until the band stormed the stage once again to begin playing the entirety of their first album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade. This time around, we saw the group ditching their acoustic instruments in favor of their good ol’ electrified counterparts. I don’t think I have the adequate words to explain how amazing it was to hear Chris Pennie begin the opening notes of “Time Consumer” while watching Claudio prepare himself for the first riffs of the song.

They spent the next fifty minutes going from song to song off of one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard (second only to their In Keeping Secrets album, in my opinion), that had me revisiting songs I hadn’t listened to in quite some time, like the track that the tour took its name after, Neverender.

After finishing the album and leaving the stage once again, many people in the audience were concerned about whether the band were done or not considering they played two long sets already. I had a feeling that all of the other reports I had read about the concert were going to be just as true with our own show and the band was going to make an encore…and sure enough, they did.

This time around, the band wasn’t stuck with just one album to draw their talents from and were able to play songs from just about every album they recorded, including a few from Good Apollo Vol. 1 and quite a few from No World For Tomorrow. We knew we were in a real treat when we saw Claudio make a move for the double-necked SG as they brought the entire venue down with “Welcome Home”.

The song that finished up the encore was “The Black Rainbow” from Year of the Black Rainbow that just killed the entire audience with how Claudio was yelling how “IT’S OVER, IT’S OVER, IT’S ALL COMING APART!!!” There were literally chills running up my spine as the band did this song. It’s amazing how Claudio’s voice combined with the abilities of the rest of the group somehow manage to pierce my non-existent soul in these gut wrenching songs.

The group departed once again and at this point, we all thought it really was over…since that’s what Claudio just sang for the last bit of the show. It wasn’t (and fans should have known) that they’d be back for one final track. Claudio and Travis came back and left us all with a somber note as they did an acoustic version of Elf Tower, New Mexico. Though seeing Claudio laugh at the mention of his one time lover Nikki Owen in the lyrics made the audience cheer. There was no better way to finish off the show and one of the greatest nights of my life.

If you are a fan and haven’t seen them live, you simply must because there is no comparison to seeing them live. They are perhaps one of the greatest rock bands to come up during our generation and deserve every bit of praise I’ve given them in this humble little article. You’re doing yourself a disservice listening to just their albums, you really need to be there as one among the fence and singing along with the rest of your fellow fans.

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