Ever wondered where the name ‘Timberwolves at New Jersey’ came from? The 3,000-ish people gathered at London’s Troxy were privy to that information in the form of one of Adam Lazzara’s many story times between songs.
These story times are just part of what made this evening a gathering of sorts, more than it was just a gig. A celebration of 20 years as a band, Taking Back Sunday and their fans did just that – celebrate their history; together.
Lazzara shared his stories, including the one about being embarrassed when he found out that Timberwolves weren’t actually attacking people on the streets of New Jersey, headlined as ‘Timberwolves at New Jersey’ on TV news for the sports team, and walk through the venue and you’d hear fans swapping their own stories of how they got into the band and what the music means to them.
Taking Back Sunday’s debut, Tell All Your Friends, is undeniably one of the iconic staple albums of the early 2000s scene. Although the band themselves have denied ever being an emo band, you’ll be pretty hard pressed to find a former ‘emo kid’ who didn’t listen to the album on repeat. Now, all those former emo kids – and new fans alike – were getting to hear that album played live, in full.
Starting with ‘You Know How I Do’ all the way through to ‘Head Club’, Taking Back Sunday kept the energy in a big way; it’s clear that the 20 years of playing shows hasn’t tired them out. After two decades, there’s pretty much only two ways a band can go – complacency and sloppiness in the way they perform or getting better with age. Taking Back Sunday are definitely the latter. Each song at least mirrored the recording in perfect skill, but some tracks had new life breathed into them.
It wasn’t just a simple album play-through, it was a track-by-track run-down of the beginning of this band’s history, and it’s something they’re clearly still so very proud of. That pride is what made Adam Lazzara’s stories – told in that Southern American drawl – so endearing and enthralling.
For a lot of bands, talk between songs is awkward or forced, but Lazzara is a born showman. If he hadn’t moved to front the band after playing bass for Taking Back Sunday, they probably wouldn’t be standing on that stage 20 years later. Not only did Lazzara prove that he’s still just as skilled at those iconic mic swings, but he also confirmed that he’s still one of the best frontmen modern rock music has ever produced.
Perhaps the most significant thing to take from this show was the fact that even after all this time, Tell All Your Friends is still such a relevant and timeless album. If it were released today, it would still be just as treasured.
After the first half hour was up and Tell All Your Friends had come to an end, it was time for an assortment of Taking Back Sunday classics like ‘A Decade Under the Influence’, ‘This Photograph is Proof (I Know You Know)’, and ‘Liar (It Takes One to Know One)’. Each was a welcome sound to the increasingly hyped audience.
Old and newer songs were played alongside each other harmoniously, and it became so clear to all that no matter what year it is, Taking Back Sunday can’t make a bad song. Newer songs were loved just as much as old, and the screams and singing from the crowd never faltered. Ending on ‘MakeDamnSure’, the energy of both the band and the crowd was overwhelming, with not a single still body in sight.
Taking Back Sunday showed that they’re not just a nostalgia band; love for them is still as strong today as it was when Tell All Your Friends was released. Another sure thing is that the band are just as passionate and driven as they were back in 1999. They left the stage as the heroes they’ve always been.
As long, and at times drama-filled as Taking Back Sunday’s history has been over the past 20 years, one thing is for sure – they’ve always been outstanding. Long may they continue to be.