Live Review: Taking Back Sunday @ The LCR

Taking Back Sunday provided a mixed lot when they descended on the LCR for the closing night of their UK tour.

Even before things get going, it is clear there is a split crowd. There’s the 14-year-old who hasn’t heard of Taking Back Sunday’s early stuff and the 27-year-old who still remembers the Brand New and Taking Back Sunday feud that was laid to rest a good 15 years ago. I was challenged twice over my Brand New sweatshirt by such people with the question “Brand New or Taking Back Sunday?” After the performance Taking Back Sunday give tonight, emphatically Brand New.

Opener Muncie Girls are a band I make no secret of my love for. They are one of the best British bands around right now and put on a great performance, even if the crowd give them nothing to bounce off bar the odd clap. At that point it seems everyone in front of me only cares about one thing: Frank Iero and the Patience, the next support act to come on.

Had you told 15-year-old me I could be bored in a room where I was 10 metres away from a member of My Chemical Romance, he probably would have not believed you. He should, because the only real redeeming feature of Iero’s set is that it ends. A masterclass in dullness, Iero meanders around a shallow back-catalogue with little variation or energy. A moshpit of mid-teens is the only movement in the room, and at points even they seem to be going through the motions.

It is a shame as I have seen Iero solo before, on his first UK tour, and with My Chemical Romance and I have only glowing praise of him on those occasions. However, tonight he has nothing to add to proceedings. Given his studio albums draw heavily from frantic DC hardcore, it is somewhat disappointing that his entire set feels safe and devoid of any kind of heart. The performance is there, but I’d rather just listen to the recordings.

Taking Back Sunday take to the stage for what is a performance with immense highs and horrid lows.

First, the positives. Adam Lazarra is a nature showman who conducts the crowd brilliantly at times, keeps the energy going, is amusing in his dialogue with the audience and generally oozes charisma. John Nolan is a fantastic musician when given the limelight and the comradery between the members is enjoyable. The band’s oldest numbers are still delivered wonderfully and those lifted from newest album Tidal Wave feel fresh and powerful. Of particular note, for the former, is ‘Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)’ and, for the latter, opener ‘Death Wolf’.

However, the positives are too heavily dragged down by the negatives. These are the crowd and Lazarra’s vocal work. The crowd can hardly be blamed on the band, but consists largely by the end of 20-somethings reliving their teens by beating up mid-teens in a pit. The latter, however, is what makes this a highly unsatisfactory performance.

While tracks from the band’s first and most recent albums are delivered well, almost anything else is destroyed by Lazarra’s vocals. ‘Flicker, Fade’ saw only one verse in key, and its partner from ‘Happiness Is…’,  ‘Stood A Chance’, fares little better. ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, the only other track from the same album, is fantastically delivered. However, it is despite Lazarra’s tuning. For the grittier numbers it works. For the more melodic numbers it is clear Lazarra is just not up to scratch.

It is a night of polar opposites. Outstanding performances are betrayed by terrible ones. However, for £20, consistency is not an optional part of a show.




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December 2021
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