Written by Robert B. Johnson (@RobertSatellite on Twitter)
ImageCounting Down the Days

I never miss a Taking Back Sunday show. So when Adam Lazarra, John Nolan, and company were set to pull through Houston’s House of Blues on the second stop of their Spring tour, I marked my calendar and started counting down the days.

Every time I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday live, I’ve been witness to something extraordinary. February 19 was no different. For my fourth live experience with Taking Back Sunday, I was treated to something new, unique, and lasting.

Adding Something New

Taking Back Sunday’s latest album, Happiness Is, is littered with top quality songs. For the second tour in support of the album, Taking Back Sunday has added even more tracks from the latest effort to the setlist. Although standout tracks like “Flicker, Fade” and “Beat Up Car” maintained their spots on the list, Taking Back Sunday added “How I Met Your Mother” and “It Takes More,” playing both live for just the second time (the first being New Orleans the night before). In fact, “It Takes More” had the distinction of closing the main set. With golden imagery rushing across background video screens, lush guitar melodies, and a very pronounced lead piano riff, “It Takes More” had the perfect feel for a song to end the main set.

Personality, Performance, and Passion

When it’s “go time,” few bands can rival the enthusiasm that the members of Taking Back Sunday bring to the stage. John Nolan’s (guitar / vocals) backing vocals and harmonic riffs on “Cute Without the E” are cathartic, and certainly goosebump-inducing for fans. Smattered behind the emotional vocals of Lazzara, the live performance of the band’s breakthrough song was downright superb.

ImageThis time around, it was Taking Back Sunday’s second night on tour. The band members all appeared fresh and alert, making the performances all the more spectacular. In fact, the band members’ personalities shined more than any of the previous three shows I’ve seen.

At one point, Lazarra called out a girl in the crowd who had been filming the entire show on her cell phone. With a bit of a smirk and a lot of laughing, Lazarra said, “Listen darling, I worry for you because that phone battery is going to die on you.” He continued,  “I know this because you’ve had this on the entire fucking show! You won’t be able to check your text messages or Instagram.” After a momentary pause, Lazarra looked at his bandmates and said “I think she’s alright with it.” Then, long after the moment has passed, Lazarra again hammered home the point. “All I’m saying is thirty minutes from now when that phone is dead, I told you so!”

Capping the Night

At the end of the set, Taking Back Sunday left the stage for the usual break from the main set to the encore. When they returned, Lazarra jokingly exclaimed, “To be honest, we didn’t know how that whole walking off the stage thing would go, but I’d say it went pretty swimmingly.”

ImageAs with all Taking Back Sunday shows, the music was excellent. Lazarra and company made every effort to give the tracks a personal touch. For example, before “Better Homes and Gardens,” Lazarra routinely tells a story about how some “weird stuff” went down in Tyler, Texas and inspired the song.

In a show filled with memorable moments, it’s hard to pick out the perfect ones to recount. However, a simple, but personal moment occurred as the set began to wind down. For the first time of the night, Lazarra dawned an acoustic guitar and let the crowd in on one of his favorites. “This is one of my favorite Taking Back Sunday songs. It’s called Call Me in the Morning.”

Whether it was bringing the crowd to life with “Liar,” rocking out to “You Know How I Do” with a reckless abandon, or sending fans home happy with “MakeDamnSure,” Taking Back Sunday put together a hell of a show. Certainly, it was the best of all the ones I’ve attended. Next time they stroll through your town, make sure to catch them live. Whether you’re familiar with them or not, it’ll be worth it. In fact, I write about Taking Back Sunday today because many years ago I did just that.

Flicker, Fade
What’s it Feel Like to Be a Ghost?
Number Five with a Bullet
How I Met Your Mother
Stood a Chance
Timberwolves at New Jersey
You Got Me
Ghost Man on Third
A Decade Under the Influence
Bonus Mosh Part II
You’re So Last Summer
Better Homes and Gardens
Error: Operator
You Know How I Do
It Takes More

Call Me in the Morning
Cute Without the ‘E’
Contact Robert at robert@starsandsatellites.com or @RobertSatellite on Twitter.