Reunited Taking Back Sunday Turns Back the Clock in Boston
Taking Back Sunday
House of Blues Boston
June 25th, 2010
Just a year ago, I wrote a glowing review of a Taking Back Sunday show at the House of Blues in Boston. While I wasn’t a fan of their recently released album New Again, I praised them for their ability to put on a terrific live show despite numerous line-up changes and enough inter-band drama to support an MTV reality show. Like former heavy weight champs well past their prime, the band kept picking themselves up off the canvas and throwing haymakers. And most of them were right on target.
But like that aging boxing, it was apparent that Taking Back Sunday didn’t have much time left before they couldn’t overcome the fact they just weren’t as good as they good as they used to be. And that is when the nearly unthinkable happened. On April Fools Day, guitarist Matt Fazzi and bassist Matt Rubano were unceremoniously dumped to make way for a reunion of the band’s original line-up.
With the re-addition of John Nolan and Sean Cooper (both of whom had famously quit the band in 2003), the energy and excitement surrounding the band was suddenly revived. Dates for a short club tour were soon announced, and when the band returned to Boston, it was obvious that this would be a much different show than anything fans had seen in the recent past.
The only band opening the tour was Person L, lead by former Starting Line frontman Kenny Vasoli. While Vasoli’s previous band could always be counted on to get a crowd moving, the same can not be said of Person L. Most did not seem at all familiar with the band’s work, which was slower than any of the Starting Line’s best material.
After Person L left the stage, fans impatiently endured a half hour wait before a giant American Flag was unfurled as the stage backdrop. Another ten minute wait followed, before Taking Back Sunday finally appeared and made the wait seem worth it. As the opening cords to “Cute Without the E” rang out, most of those on the floor charged forward and burst into an overwhelmingly loud sing-along.
With a huge smile on his face, John Nolan belted out the song’s signature backing vocals, but was easily drowned out by the those singing along. Opening a show with your biggest song seems a bit risky, but if there was ever a time to do it, this was the tour. The band then barreled through “Set Phasers to Stun” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One).” This opening trio, which featured a standout track from each of the band’s first three records set a frenzied tone for the rest of the night.
The band would continue to cycle through material from their first three records for the rest of the night, largely ignoring 2009’s New Again, save for the power ballad-esque “Everything Must Go.”
Nearly as memorable as the songs themselves was the between song banter. Unlike last year’s at times awkward Blink-182 reunion tour, the jokes and good natured ribbing never seemed forced or rehearsed. Lazzara repeatedly thanked the crowd for sticking with them, and admitted the day Nolan and Cooper left the band was one of the worst he could remember. It was obvious that chemistry between Lazzara and Nolan that had been destroyed seven years earlier had returned in a big way.
One of the more memorable moments of the night came via a cover of Straylight Run’s “Existentialism on Prom Night.” The song had provided Nolan and Cooper with their biggest post-Taking Back Sunday hit, and it was oddly fitting in a “never thought I would see this happen” kind of way.
The reunited quintet would also debut two strangely titled new songs, both of which sounded promising, especially compared to their most recent material. Following “I’m Not Gay, I Just Wish I Were (Baby Your Beard Hurts),” the band would end the set just like they had started,with a trio of powerhouse tracks that brought the crowd back to life. Following “Great Romances of the 20th Century ” and “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” Lazzara was at his best for “MakeDamnSure,” during which he would heave his microphone up into the rafters, only to have it not come down.When the band returned for the encore minutes later, Lazzara took a look at cord hanging from the ceiling and stated simply “I win.”
The musical portion of the encore consisted of two songs, the first of which was “Your Own Disaster.” The show would then conclude with another old favorite, “There’s no ‘I’ in Team.” While the band doesn’t seem content with reliving their past, nostalgia was certainly the theme of the night. Lazzara even tried his hand at stage diving, showing he may be done with the slick and polished frontman act he had been practicing for quite some time.
While Taking Back Sunday has a steep climb ahead of them if they hope to win back many of the fans they lost over the past few years, this short tour was certainly a big step in the right direction. The fact that the band will soon enter the studio is another positive sign. Reliving the past may have been the focus on this night in Boston, but the reality is the band’s future depends on whether they can rediscover the spark that got them huge in the first place. From an outsider’s point of view, it doesn’t seem like they’ll have to look too hard.