When you say you’re going to see Taking Back Sunday, you seem to get one reaction: “Are they still about?” It’s a fair comment. 2006’s Louder Now was their last record of note. With almost a decade out of the spotlight, it’s hard to remember that they were the most important band of the scene that dare not speak its own name. My Chemical Romance may have gotten the notoriety, Brand New may have gotten the critical praise, but Taking Back Sunday, for better or worse, made this mutation visible.
Before we get to see what has become of the headliners are Birmingham alt-rockers Templeton Pek. There are instant aural comparisons to Rise Against and hints of early Foo Fighters, especially in the choruses. The Pek are entertaining enough, and only fractionally because singer Kev Green resembles Nick from New Girl. With a spindly math-ish riff here and a proto metal chug there, Pek’s songs are a varied bunch and everything is played with sweat-drenched intensity; sadly there are only pockets of approval from the crowd.
Taking Back Sunday come to the stage to cheers of adulation and launch into a song. It’s only by the chorus that it is distinguishable as ‘A Decade Under the Influence’. The sound is mud, the band seem to be half awake and singer Adam Lazzara is swaying like a drunken grunge pirate holding on to the microphone stand for dear life. Things don’t get much better for second song ‘Liar (It Takes One to Know One)’. But what was to be expected? On a long enough timeline, everyone’s energy and passion drops to zero. Taking Back Sunday are nothing more than feeding off half-remembered glories.
Taking Back Sunday
Then, an incredible thing happens. Lazzara takes the microphone in his hand and leaps into the pseudo-rap first verse of ‘Timberwolves in New Jersey’. Maybe its blind nostalgia, but there are moments where the band resemble their younger-selves. Highlights include, but are not limited to, the solo-guitar calm before the last chorus of ‘What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?’, the battering drum/bass assault intro of a rare ‘Bonus Mosh Pt. II’ and the choir-like response to the chorus of ‘You’re So Last Summer’. Even the more recent stuff, including new single ‘Flicker Fade’ get a enthusiastic crowd reaction.
Taking Back Sunday
Adam Lazzara was always a charismatic frontman, and that hasn’t changed. Though his embellishments to the songs are hit and miss, his banter is warm and entertaining. When he shimmies backward across the stage, a smile of pure joy on his face, while swinging the microphone cord around his neck to the intro of ‘Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)’, you can’t help but feel 14 again. And maybe that’s the point. A comforting reminder of yesterday so we can continue onto tomorrow.