Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Taking Back Sunday at Koko, Camden

Taking Back Sunday, Koko, 26 February

It’s taken me far longer than it should have to get around to writing this, because it didn't seem particularly exciting to simply write ‘Taking Back Sunday were freakin fantastic’. But in truth that’s all that needs to be said – Taking Back Sunday are fantastic.

If you love music, then you probably love a whole bunch of bands, choosing a soundtrack to suit every mood and making playlists for everything from road trips to pounding the pavements. But some bands steal a particularly large chunk of your heart when you least expect it and hold onto it forever.

© Sarah Louise Bennett

I think one of the reasons I love Taking Back Sunday so much is that they are an integral part of the soundtrack to a very memorable time in my life, a time that brought some unwelcome challenges followed by a move to another city for university. I think a lot of the things you enjoy at that particular time in your life define what you will like in the future, and music is no different.

At school I’d loved bands from the 90s with a fierce and unrivalled passion, but due to my age I was often late to the game, discovering them on the second or third album. I love the Stones and Fleetwood Mac too, but they really belong to my parents. I listen to a whole host of new bands, but these aren’t truly mine either – they belong to a new generation of skinny jean clad boys and girls who are no doubt as vocal about them as I was about the Foo Fighters all those years ago.

But there was a magical moment at the turn of the millennium when the tide turned and a new wave of bands had emerged, and suddenly something clicked. This sound was new and slightly different. It just felt right. This was a time just before the label ‘emo’ was being thrown around and before Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance dumbed the scene down a bit and fed it to the masses. The look fitted my generation too; boys who bought clothes in the right size not three sizes too small, and who only needed a handful of tattoos or the occasional piercing to set themselves apart.

This new generation included bands like Brand New, The Used, Bayside, Silverstein, Senses Fail and Rival Schools, and although I’d loved bands before and have done since, that certain musical moment suspended in time on CD (I was yet to own an iPod) spoke to me in a way that nothing else had. This was a time before Facebook, and in some cases even My Space, when bands really had to work hard and do it the old fashioned way to make their mark and sell records.

© Sarah Louise Bennett

The problem with the deep love I have for Taking Back Sunday, is that every time I go and see them, I'm still as excited as a child at a birthday party who’s had too much cake and cola, and subsequently spiralled into a debilitating sugar coma. Except instead of cake it’s Jack Daniels, and instead of cola it’s Jack Daniels, and instead of a sugar coma it's a level of inebriation that means not once have I truly remembered an encore.

So last month I headed to Koko with a game plan – to quit while I was ahead and stick to a three drink limit. After all, the band have grown up and matured so shouldn’t I be reflecting that in my appreciation?! With this in mind I stood on the balcony looking down on the action and spent a relaxed evening singing my heart out (my sincerest apologies to those around me.)

© Sarah Louise Bennett

The new album Happiness Is was still a couple of weeks away from being released so apart from a few new songs including the magnificent Flicker Fade, the setlist was a nice selection from the band’s back catalogue. Some people are pretty opinionated about which TBS era is best – the early years, post John Nolan and Shaun Cooper, the reunion – but personally I love it all. I particularly enjoyed the substantial portion of Louder Now including My Blue Heaven and Error Operator, which, if memory serves me correctly, have been missing from the last few shows I’ve been to.

Adam Lazzara is always an entertaining front man and the band seem to be genuinely enjoying playing together since reuniting the original line-up in 2010, which has resulted in an unbeatable chemistry and energy. The night ended on a high with a crowd-pleasing rendition of Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team) followed by a three-song encore that concluded the only way it could, with Make Damn Sure.

© Sarah Louise Bennett

From my elevated view point I looked down happily and with a certain amount of nostalgia, thinking how great it is that after so many years TBS are still producing music that excites me and makes me smile. I might be older and ever so slightly wiser, but that piece of my heart that they stole all those years ago still very much belongs to them. And I hope it always will.

Happiness Is is available now on iTunes, CD and some rather sexy vinyl

Huge thank you to Sarah Louise Bennett for the fantastic photos –

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