Thursday, October 11, 2012

Live Review: Taking Back Sunday with Bayside (Fillmore Detroit, 10/7/12)

Adam Lazzara
Photo cred: Jim Altier
I'd never been inside the Fillmore Detroit before going inside on October 7 to see Taking Back Sunday's "Tell All Your Friends 10" tour but I definitely hope it won't be the last. The acoustics were great, the tiered seating in General Admission was pretty cool and the amount of space was fantastic. Even Bayside's Anthony Raneri was wowed by the Detroit architecture inside. However, I didn't go to admire the wonderful interior of the venue: I went to absorb as much as I could of Taking Back Sunday's set- and it seemed everyone else there did too.

This obviously would have been a tough show to open and Mansions definitely had a tough time with it. The crowd talked through most of their set and were openly mocked about the chorus to one of their songs. The vocalist interacted with the crowd only when he was being openly mocked and it sounded like he was yelling into the mic rather than singing. On the plus side, the bassist provided really good backup vocalists and their songs were pretty catchy. It was a bummer that they didn't have more fans in the crowd because it could have been a pretty successful set- a few people came up to me asking for their name- but their lack of self-promotion and situation seemed to set them back. I'm definitely going to look around for them in the future, but I wouldn't try to see them again.

Bayside, on the other hand, was a huge adrenaline rush and set the stage perfectly for Taking Back Sunday's set. Many of those in the crowd were well acquainted with Bayside's catalog and I wasn't prepared for the amount of moshing that would accompany them. Opener "Sick, Sick, Sick" started things off on a good note but the crowd had yet to come alive. Still in a stupor from the tame set that Mansions provided, it wasn't until  "Already Gone," that the notoriously wild Detroit crowd was fully riled up. Multiple mosh pits opened up during the guitar solo and bassist Nick Ghanbarian- who directed crowd action throughout their set- didn't have to encourage any of the chaotic motion that would become the norm for the rest of the set. However, this trend in destructive motion was rather unwelcome. The crowd was divided into older, heavier males who loved "Tell All Your Friends" since it came out and rowdy girls under the influence of Molly. Thus, I was getting pushed around and elbowed even during song breaks. Despite this, the set was one of the best I've ever seen. Everything was extremely crisp and Raneri's voice had an edge to it that doesn't come through on the record. His emphasis of certain words, like "tired" and "getting" during the chorus of "The Walking Wounded" added an extra element of personality to the music that was already pitch-perfect all night. Before closing song "Devotion and Desire" Raneri monologued that "you guys at first seemed like you were thinking 'come on, just get Taking Back Sunday out here' and now it's like 'hey, these guys are pretty fucking cool!'" and he really hit the nail on the head. It was without a doubt one of the most powerful, exciting and fun live sets that I've ever seen. This was the first time I'd seen them live, but it definitely won't be the last.

Taking Back Sunday, after a 20 minute setup time, took the stage to Mr. Rogers' "Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" at around 9:30. The first half of the set was a whole lot of fun, with the band opening with "What's it Feel Like to Be a Ghost?" with John Nolan not singing Fred's lines for the first verse. However, it didn't matter because everybody in the crowd was singing louder than him and Adam. In fact, Adam was barely audible until the chorus of "Liar"- the fourth song of the set. The energy of the crowd during the first part of this 20 song set was incredible, people were literally climbing one another for a better spot in the crowd. But, perhaps most incredibly, Adam's usually maligned live vocals were spot-on, even compared to when I saw him in July. He absolutely nailed "Faith"; usually, he is hesitant to try the high notes live but he went for it and pulled it off with ease. John Nolan too deserves commendation for his vocal performance. He eventually sang Fred's lines and made them his own. After "MakeDamnSure," the band abruptly left the stage.

When they returned, it was to the loudest round of applause that I'd heard at a concert since Taylor Swift's show in front of 50,000. As they began to play "You Know How I Do" the "Tell All Your Friends" album cover dropped from the rafters and the 36 minutes of music that everyone came to hear had begun. It's obvious that the last ten years have taken a toll on Adam Lazzara's voice but tonight it didn't seem to matter. He had all the energy that he did when he was 21 and he seemed intent on doing a good job vocally rather than swinging his mic and putting on his usual theatrics. This definitely paid off, with the vocals shining on songs like "Bike Scene" and, most impressively, "Ghost Man on Third." Of all the songs on the album, I was least excited to see "Ghost Man on Third," but it proved to be a highlight of the set. The band had a quiet intensity while playing the ballad, with the crescendos hitting perfectly, the crowd began to settle down and watch for the first time of the night. In that moment, the band showed why they still endear themselves to the same fans who picked "Tell All Your Friends" up those years ago. They're incredible showmen, although bassist Shaun Cooper was notably less animated than usual, and appeared to want to give the fans the best set they could.

The one gripe that I have with the set, and really the concert in general other than the crowd, is that Adam Lazzara left the stage during "Timberwolves at New Jersey" in order to sing within the crowd and hang out near the bar. He didn't return until "Head Club," which meant that much of the crowd spent "You're So Last Summer" searching the venue for him instead of appreciating arguably the best song on the album. I also tend to watch what the singer is doing more than anything else on stage, so I was irked that I had to look for other sources of action.. However, this was a minor complaint for what was ultimately one of the best concerts I've ever been to. The quality of the music as well as the significance of seeing a personal favorite album being played live made that Sunday night a particularly special one. Tell All Your Friends to go see this tour.

Taking Back Sunday Setlist
Bayside Setlist

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