Monday, 15 December 2014

Taking Back Sunday - Oxford O2 Academy, 14/12/14

Well here we are - my last gig review of the year! It's been a good year for me, going to a bazillion gigs (I can't even work out how many) and reviewing a lot of them, so I was happy that the last gig I went to in 2014 was actually my most anticipated gig of the year. I've been trying to see Taking Back Sunday for the last five years and it's just never come to pass, so this was a long time coming and I was not disappointed.
But before I can review the main event, there were the two support bands. I absolutely love Blitz Kids, and when I saw them in August they were flawless live, so I was a little bit disappointed with their performance. I don't know if it was the venue acoustics, or the strain of having been on consecutive tours with both New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday, but vocalist Joe James just didn't seem to be able to perform as amazingly vocally as he did the last time that I saw them. However, despite this I still thoroughly enjoyed their set, and it was great to see the crowd reacting amazingly throughout, singing their hearts out through 'On My Own' and closing song 'Perfect'. I still think that bigger things are coming for Blitz Kids, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were headlining this venue this time next year, or at least as soon as they have another album out, but off of the back of this show it could take a bit longer to get there. And even though the singing might have been off, their personalities still shined - Nic flaunting his Darth Vader birthday present (complete with light up light saber) was hilarious, and Joe announcing that "Marmozets will make us look like Boyzone, and then Taking Back Sunday will make us all look like cunts" got a huge laugh from the crowd - and I believe that even audience members who didn't like their music would find it impossible not to like them as people, because they all seem to be extremely lovely.

Run For Cover
Keep Swinging
Sold My Soul
All I Want Is Everything
On My Own

Second up, Marmozets. I genuinely believe they need to rename themselves to Marmite, because all of the people I've spoken to either absolutely adore or utterly detest Marmozets - there is no middle ground. I, for one, am firmly in the latter camp, and no amount of exposure or bribery could possibly change my opinion, so as you can imagine I wasn't at all impressed when they were announced as main support for one of my favourite bands. I have nothing against singer/screamer Becca Macintyre personally, but I am inherently opposed to female screamers - I just think it's one of the most annoying sounds in the world - so there was no way that Marmozets could possibly blow me away in a live environment and destroy all of my preconceptions. However, I ended up loving a single song, namely 'Captivate You', which was atmospherically beautiful in a way that extremely surprised me. Other than that, I didn't enjoy a single moment. I could appreciate how much heart and soul Becca was performing into her vocal, and musically the guitars are amazingly tight, but other than that I just couldn't see the appeal in the slightest. A lot of people were in this room only to see Marmozets - their trajectory in America has been awe-inspiring, and the fact that a practically unknown band without a released album managed to play two sets at Reading is a feat in itself - but while I can respect them for their work ethic and praise them for their success, they just aren't my cup of tea. 

Born Young and Free
Why Do You Hate Me?
Is It Horrible
Captivate You
Weird and Wonderful
Hit The Wave
Move, Shake, Hide

I thought I was going to be able to say nothing but good things about Taking Back Sunday, but sadly the beginning of the set did fall a little short for me. Kicking off with 'What's It Feel Like To Be A Ghost' should have kickstarted the crowd automatically, but while it still got a good reaction it wasn't the electric reaction that I'd been anticipating. That continued to be the theme throughout most of the first half of the set - with the crowd going crazy and vocalist Adam Lazzara seeming too contained in himself to really be putting on an energetic and absorbing performance. Eventually everything clicked, and with Adam's passionate performance combined with the already hectic crowd response, it created an unbeatable atmosphere. That didn't really happen until 'Faith (When I Let You Down)' which was eight songs into the set, but after that it was a flawless set, even though the banter between the band and the crowd was a bit lacking.
Once the show had really gotten going it absolutely exploded; 'Flicker, Fade' sounded superb in a live environment, and the reaction for 'You're So Last Summer' showed that while there were a few people in the room who were only fans of the newer Taking Back Sunday material, most of the crowd were there for the old songs - further cemented by penultimate song 'Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)', which inciting the biggest mosh pit of their set... Well, second mosh pit... But it was definitely bigger than the first. I will admit that I knew more of the older Taking Back Sunday songs, but after hearing 'Better Homes and Gardens' live I think it's instantly become one of my favourite songs - the emotion in the performance was palpable and it was one of my personal highlights of the set. 
I have take a minute here to applaud Taking Back Sunday for being able to craft an amazing setlist. Not many bands can get the mix between old and new songs perfectly, and when you have six albums I'm sure it's a lot harder to decide what is going to go in your live show, but they covered the majority of their massive hits while also managing to make space for songs off of 'Happiness Is', the album that they're currently promoting. Despite the fact that the beginning of the set was a bit slower than I'd expected, playing 'MakeDamnSure' last was obviously going to get a brilliant reaction, and it was a refreshing change that they didn't play an official encore, because it made the show feel that much more intimate. It was definitely a memorable performance, and that was the perfect way to end an absolutely brilliant night. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest, and I've walked away from their show knowing that if there is one thing that I need to do it is to see Taking Back Sunday again. Hopefully I'll get to do that, and hopefully sooner rather than later. 

What's It Feel Like To Be A Ghost
A Decade Under The Influence
Number Five With A Bullet
Stood A Chance
Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
Timberwolves At New Jersey
They Don't Have Any Friends
Faith (When I Let You Down)
Set Phasers To Stun
Better Homes and Gardens
You're So Last Summer
Error: Operator
Beat Up Car
My Blue Heaven
Flicker, Fade
You Know How I Do
All The Way
Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)

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