Photo Credit: Natalie Escobedo
If you were an emo growing up in the 2000s, we would bet our life savings on the fact that you would have heard a song by Taking Back Sunday and probably loved it! For some of you it may have been the emo soundtrack to your summers or medicine to your heartbreaks and teenage angst; for others a fleeting tune you vaguely remember hearing at a house party. Whatever Taking Back Sunday means to you, they are undeniably one of the most iconic bands in rock and this summer they celebrate their 20 years as a band with a world-wide Anniversary tour and we were there!
Hundreds of people, of all ages, crowd the quaint, 02 Academy Bristol, awaiting the Taking Back Sunday: 20th Anniversary Tour. The atmosphere is a mixture of middle-aged mellow and emo rage hype; everyone anticipating the nostalgia to come. Support act, The Frights open up the night and give a good college try, but seem to fall flat to a room awaiting one thing. They deliver a sound reminiscent to Bayside, laced with a punkier, off-key tone. The Cali-quintet really do give everything they have and the vocal harmonies are impressive and although not a tight set, deliver catchy tunes. It’s not bad, but it isn’t great and by the end everyone seems Over It and are ready for Adam Lazzara and the gang to take us in their tuned-up time machine and play some Notes From The Past.
Taking Back Sunday don’t need an introduction so it isn’t a surprise when they just bound on stage to the uproar of the room. Lazzara grabs the mic and gives brief “hello” before opener, You Know How I Do, erupts the room. From the get-go, it’s obvious that 20 years of the rock and roll lifestyle has taken its toll on the front man’s vocal cords and stamina. By Bike Scene, Mark O’Conell, tears up the tempo and steals the stage. Lucky for us and a worn out Lazzara; John Nolan and Shaun Cooper are back on lead guitar and bass, proving There’s No I in Team. We are left in “best friend, Nolan’s capable hands” as he literally carries vocals to fan favourite, Cute Without The E. In between songs Lazzara charms the venue with funny anecdotes about the band and stories behind songs. He delivers a long, and we mean long, history sermon of Taking Back Sunday and suddenly it all feels we’re in “our Sunday best”. Cooper takes the reign on keys with Ghost Man On Third and we get a snippet of how the original song sounded before the release. The room is filled with a romantic serenade which crashes into riot riffs and screamo snippets. You’re So Last Summer, has Lazzara back on vocal form and the whole venue singing back to beaming band. A Decade Under The Influence ends the complete Tell All Your Friends chapter for the band and for the night.
Tidal Wave is a quick splash of the bands newest album before nostalgia washes over us again with forgotten gem, This Photograph Is Proof. Not played live for 10 years, Lazzara explains to the appreciative crowd the new love he has for it “now time has passed”. Things get less sentimental and Louder Now, as Liar (It Takes One To Know One) hits. A pit starts and Lazzara completes their catchiest chorus with his signature microphone swing, not quite making it around his neck. You Can’t Look Back demonstrates a more mature melody and side to the band. Lazzara is in his element vocally as the bluesy licks drip with his thick North Carolina accent. It almost sounds like a totally different band and we love it. Just as the crowd get All Ready To Go, we are injected with one final booster shot of nostalgia. The band Make Damn Sure we won’t forget this closer. The rafters are shaking from the jumping above on the upper tier of the venue and when the bridge lands even the bar staff are singing along. As the last note drops, and the pit slows, this sadly rounds up the last UK stop on the 20th Anniversary Tour. The band oddly thank their loyal fans with a Jay Z quote “You coulda been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me”. With an almost 2 hour long set of memories, melodies, and celebration, we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
People may argue that there aren’t any iconic bands left to stand the test of time, well we think tonight was a lesson that any bands we once loved are getting old, but so are fans; It’s a new generation of music. This tour brought Taking Back Sunday fans old and new together and we even witnessed a small boy Seth, enjoying his first gig with his dad and we thought it was beautiful. Could this have been Taking Back Sunday’s last gig? Maybe, but we don’t think so. Could this be the start of an emo anniversary tour revolution? We hope so! Whatever the outcome, we truly witnessed a beloved band celebrating their talent and it was honestly one of the best experiences we’ve had this year! Long live emo!
Written by: Charly Phillips