Taking Back Sunday – London Camden Underworld

By paul

93ft East, London

I first caught Taking Back Sunday‘s live show back in 2003 just after the release of ‘Where You Want to Be’. To put it bluntly, I was left feeling under whelmed, not only with the material on their second album, but they were clearly still struggling to find their feet as a band after the departure of John Nolan and Shaun Cooper early in that year. Since that evening, I’ve seen them steadily improve their live sets, play increasingly larger venues (Give it a Name Fest at Earl’s Court, anyone?) and explode in popularity (yes, you have been hearing ‘MakeDamnSure’ on Radio 1).
So when I found out they were playing at this tiny 300 capacity club in the arse end of London to warm up for their Reading set this year, I knew we’d be in for something special.

We definitely were. They didn’t mess around at all tonight, and at nine o’clock exactly, kicked off the show with a performance of their latest album, ‘Louder Now’ in its entirety. While the album’s release saw a lukewarm response from the fanbase, they performed it just so damn well tonight, that I can almost forgive Lazzara’s increasingly camp stage antics and dire attempts at mic-swinging in such a confined area. He had the crowd hanging on to his every world from the beginning of ‘What it feels like to be a ghost’ all the way through to the conclusion of ‘Ill let you live’, and most notably put in a fantastic solo performance of recent setlist staple ‘Divine Intervention’, The band’s performance did nothing but please the crowd, and although the sound was rather muddy, with the drums overpowering most of the guitar riffs, the New Jersey quintet put on a great show.

So that was that. Off stage they went, and there we all were waiting for an encore of maybe two or three old TBS favourites. First, a treat for the veteran TBS fans in the audience. Adam returned to the stage and treated us to a solo version of ‘Your Own Disaster’ – a song which by his own admission, he hadn’t played in almost a year. While his lack of practise showed, no one seemed to mind as it was obviously a song every single one of the 300 people here tonight wanted to hear, and sing along to.

What followed was simply brilliance on TBS’s part. It’s not often any band plays audience requests, so when Taking Back Sunday played a solid hour of songs their fans threw at them, it was just a little bit special. Crowd favourites ‘Cute without the e’, ‘Set phasers to stun’ and ‘Bikescene’ were all in there, and they ever managed to squeeze in a cheeky Tom Petty cover too. With the crowd taking over most of Adam’s vocal duties around this point, it was clear the band were starting to tire, but they kept the party going for just the right amount of time.

I really do try to avoid imperatives, but tonight’s show was without a doubt the best gig I have been to in a very long time. Taking Back Sunday are clearly a world away from the band they were three years ago, and to play such an intimate gig which involved the crowd all the way through shows they definitely are ones for pleasing their fans. Cracking stuff.