Concert Review: Taking Back Sunday at Turner Hall (Milwaukee, WI)

Taking Back Sunday (Long Island, NY), You Blew It! (Orlando, FL)
September 21st, 2016
Turner Hall in Milwaukee, WI

Much like their Tell All Your Friends 10th Anniversary Tour in the fall of 2012, Taking Back Sunday’s performance at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Wednesday night featured a full album played start to finish. With the Long Island band’s seventh LP, Tidal Wave, having just been released last week, Adam Lazzara and company dedicated the first half of their set to the brand new album. It’s a bold move for any band to try to pull off, but Lazzara let the audience in on the thought process behind it.

“It’s too good to just play one or two or three of these,” Lazzara said of the new album early in the set. It’s the type of thing any musician would say about their new album, but with Tidal Wave, it’s the truth. Taking Back Sunday has put together one of their most spirited and comprehensive albums to date.

Tidal Wave lead track and show opener “Death Wolf” channeled the bottled-up energy and angst found on many of the cherished Where You Want To Be and Louder Now tracks. The tranquilly rousing “You Can’t Look Back” powered behind its infectious melody and bridge, likely engaging even longtime fans that hadn’t heard the track yet. “All Excess” shadowed a stirring pop ditty, giving the crowd no excuse not to dance along with Lazzara’s two-step on stage. “Holy Water” ignited Turner Hall with all the feeling and emotion that a band is capable of investing in a song—a Taking Back Sunday trademark that fueled the band’s rise to popularity in the mid-2000s.

The Tidal Wave full play did yield some restless moments in the crowd—there were murmurs of chatter during some of the softer, acoustic moments of the record—but altogether most fans were engaged in the new songs. Throughout the night, Lazzara reiterated his sincere appreciation to the crowd for giving them a chance to play Tidal Wave, fully aware that a new album isn’t always what fans are itching to hear at a concert.

To show their appreciation, Taking Back Sunday dedicated the last half of the show to nothing but fan favorites from their back catalog. Leading the hit parade was the Tell All Your Friends breakout anthem, “Cute Without the ‘e’.” Prior to that song, the show had been a rather polite Wednesday night rock concert. But from the first few chords of “Cute Without the ‘e’,” all the way through to the last song of the night, Louder Now’s megahit, “MakeDamnSure,” the show was an uninhibited singalong, complete with strained voices, fist pumps, and even a mildly participated mosh pit. From Where You Want To Be standouts “Set Phasers to Stun,” “A Decade Under the Influence,” and “One-Eighty by Summer,” to Louder Now’s “ Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” “My Blue Heaven” and “What’s it Feel Like to be a Ghost?” everyone was pumped and ecstatic, reliving old memories that really didn’t seem all that long ago.

It was a similar sight to the blissful nostalgic trip that accompanied the band’s Tell All Your Friends 10th Anniversary Tour.  Even as dedicated and invested as Taking Back Sunday is in their new music—And with Tidal Wave, rightfully so— there is nothing like everyone in the room singing every word to a song you wrote 10, 15 years ago. And that gratitude, amusement and thrill is still evident on the faces of John Nolan, Eddie Reyes, Mark O’Connell, Shaun Cooper and Adam Lazzara. Lazzara, particularly, seemed overjoyed to be onstage. He reaffirmed the sentiment later in the night by admitting his content in the Milwaukee show specifically, “I just feel like the luckiest man on earth.” I’ve seen many Taking Back Sunday (and Straylight Run) shows over the years, dating back to 2003, and I must say, this is the happiest I’ve ever seen this band play live.

No matter if you’re a new or old Taking Back Sunday fan, you won’t want to miss the Tidal Wave tour. There’s something for everyone, and don’t be surprised if you leave the show with one or two new favorites stuck in your head.

Setlist

Death Wolf
Tidal Wave
You Can’t Look Back
Fences
All Excess
I Felt It Too
Call Home Running
Holy Water
In The Middle Of It All
We Don’t Go In There
Homecoming
I’ll Find A Way To Make It What You Want

Cute Without The ‘e’
Set Phasers to Stun
Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?
A Decade Under The Influence
Flicker Fade
My Blue Heaven
Timberwolves at New Jersey
One-Eighty By Summer
MakeDamnSure

Thoughts?