LIVE: Taking Back Sunday / The Frights @ Troxy, London

By Yasmin Brown

It’s been over a year since Taking Back Sunday graced our shores for 2018’s Slam Dunk Festival, but we’re lucky enough to have them back, playing one of London’s prettiest venues.

Main support comes from America’s The Frights, offering an energetic performance of 80s surf pop-rock, filled with thrashing guitars and stage slides to kick off the night and prepare us for a night of pure mayhem. It’s an interesting choice, as their sound is far removed from that of Taking Back Sunday, but it’s a riot all the same.

While The Frights are certainly successful in increasing the energy that filled the room towards the end of the band’s set, it’s nothing compared to what is about to come.

For many of us, tonight is a celebration of a band we’ve loved for most of our lives, and so to be able to celebrate 20 years of TBS in a venue as lovely as Troxy is truly one for the books. Changing it up slightly from the American leg of the tour, Taking Back Sunday are playing their debut album ‘Tell All Your Friends’ in full every night while in the UK, a fact that clearly pleases everyone in attendance as they scream the lyrics so loudly that front man Adam Lazzara is forced to pause as he takes in the scene in front of him, grinning madly.

In fact, Lazzara spends much of the evening with a grin plastered on his face, mostly likely as a result of London being “one of [his] favourite cities in the whole world”. While he rambles on for what is arguably far too long at times, his excitement is tangible and infectious, and while you may be rolling your eyes at his stories (verging on novels – are you a musician or a preacher?), you can’t help but laugh, too.

Make no mistake, though, this is far from being the Adam Lazzara show – and he makes a point of introducing each member of the band by name, asking the crowd countless times to “give it up for John Nolan on the gee-tar!” Taking Back Sunday has had its fair share of lineup changes, but none so heart-warming as those that include both John and Adam. Tonight is an ode to that.

It’s clear from the performance that, with the exception of guitarist Nathan Cogan, this band have been playing together for 20 years. They’re perfectly in tune with one another, taking cues without thinking, and Lazzara’s voice is on top form, his vocal strength shining through throughout the two-hour set.

The length of the set is surprising, as our expectations started and ended with ‘Tell All Your Friends’. As it is, when this part of the set ends, we’re treated to a whole bunch of tracks from the rest of Taking Back Sunday’s discography, including ‘This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)’, a song that prior to this tour hasn’t been played live in a long time because Lazarra simply “didn’t care for it”. The crowd is clearly excited about this re-addition to the setlist, seeing it as he now does – a “completely new and beautiful thing”.

Ending with the classic ‘MakeDamnSure’, Taking Back Sunday ensure that we see the night out on a high, with energy reaching its peak despite the relentless energy the crowd has already been exerting for the past two hours. As fans filter slowly out of the venue, there are two things that we take with us following tonight’s show (as well as sweat and exhaustion). Adam Lazzara really loves John Nolan and his gee-tar – and Taking Back Sunday are a band whose twenty-year anniversary was well worth the celebration.