Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen


“Are we all still emo kids or are we too old for that?”- Geoff Rickly

Opener Geoff Rickly is better known as frontman of the post hardcore kids fave band Thursday. I’ve never been a fan and so I was intrigued to see how I would respond to Geoff’s solo work and acoustic renditions of classic Thursday tracks. Driving bluesy guitars are occasionally married with big booming vocals that wake me up to the realisation that Geoff has an incredibly powerful voice. Sadly he hardly ever showcases this with any depth of raw passion and scale; instead he chooses to hide behind a safe small vocal range that lacks emotion. The highlight of Geoff’s set is his honesty in conversation; from anxiety, artistic pressure, to heroin addiction. Geoff’s set is filled with haunting truths from his own admissions of having never played publicly sober and clean before.

GEOFF RICKLY (4 of 19)

A booming Brummie voice shouts out ‘I LOVE YOU GEOFF!’ and you can’t help but smile at how such heckles, with that Brummie accent, are so purely authentic and filled with truth. A polite and sincere thank you for Geoff results in an earnest confession of how Thursday’s album ‘Full Collapse’ literally saved his life and pulled him back from the brink of suicide. The undeniable power of music to transcend it’s writers once in the lives of people is never short of amazing.

After such an admission we are treated to the set closing ‘Understanding in a Car Crash’ a song he’s never played on his own before. Whilst I may still not be a fan of the music Geoff epitomises an earnest song writer and musician whose vulnerability and openness should be applauded and aspired to.

In answer to Geoff’s question about our emo status – well the crowd is certainly a mix of those not yet born when Full Collapse came out and a room full of friends ready to nostalgically sing their lungs out to 2002’s Summer record.

GEOFF RICKLY (15 of 19)

GEOFF RICKLY (17 of 19)

Californian surf punkers The Frights have just signed to Epitaph and burst onto the stage fast and hard whilst basking in a golden light to super charge a surf fuzz to their hybrid of du-wop punk.

Despite having 3 full lengths and a live under their belt they are a new one on me and I can’t decide if they’re the quick shag in the alley you want to forget or if they’re the unplanned pregnancy you wouldn’t be without.

THE FRIGHTS (10 of 14)

I just can’t decide if the saccharine 50s vibes are just too insincere and jarring with the scuzzy surf punk as they croon ‘you are my baby that’s all I need’ and ‘I miss my Mom and Dad’.

I spend half the set bemused and confused as my brain processes the marmite nature of this band and how their unique mix will no doubt rain large volumes of money on the heads of record execs. Before I can come to any conclusion an arrogant twiddly jam fest that extends beyond it’s sell by date checks my brain out.

THE FRIGHTS (13 of 14)

THE FRIGHTS (3 of 14)

This is the 20th anniversary tour for Taking Back Sunday being a band and to celebrate the occasion we’re treated to Tell All Your Friends in full, followed up with a storming second half full of big hitters. There couldn’t have been a more perfect TBS set.

Adam Lazarra’s charisma and sexual energy is adored by male and female fans alike. Ever the showman his mic swinging skills are unparalleled as they whip straight into ‘You Know how You Do’.


Birmingham has a bad reputation for not turning out and showing up for bands passing through, which is why we’re increasingly missed out. Adam declares ‘when they said we were starting this tour in Birmingham we said one of the best damn tours we ever had started in Birmingham’.

Standing on the sidelines the Institute’s sound lives up to it’s bad reputation but I’m not sure you’d hear the band anyway as an evening of crowd screaming, double part harmonising ensues for every last song.

The crowd are played to perfection with long drawn out pauses so that the band can bask in the moment before the song kicks back in during ‘Bike Scene’.



The sharing vibe of the show continues with insights into songs that feel fresh, even if you’ve read about it before or heard it during shows gone by. Regaling tales of intent for a slower piano section for ‘Blue Channel’ only for the tapes to have a faster version and changing the dynamic of the song. The tracks off ‘Tell All Your Friends’ were named after the preview info they had on the tv channels when they didn’t have cable; and suddenly you’ll feel a part of the history of this record.

It was a treat to discover more about an album that has only served to grow with you and never gotten old; just simply new meanings. Adam points out that ‘Photograph’ hasn’t been performed since 2004 and he too finds new meaning as he’s aged. Great songs always find ways to return to us.


If it wasn’t for the shitty sound this would have been a near perfect show, Taking Back Sunday never fail to deliver but seeing them are always bittersweet for me. The harmonies of John Nolan always makes me want to listen to the greatness that is Straylight Run and the circumstances behind that band finds me feeling slightly morose at the lack of Eddie Reyes on this celebratory anniversary. Tonight was a high energy fuelled party full of nostalgia for the people we were and the music that has shaped who we’ve become. Taking Back Sunday I salute you.

Set List:

You Know How I Do
Bike Scene
Cute without the ‘E’
There’s No I in Team
Great Romances of the 20th Century
Ghost Man on Third
Timberwolves at New Jersey
The Blue Channel
You’re So Last Summer
Head Club

A Decade Under the Influence
Error: Operator
Set Phasers to Stun
Tidal Wave
This Photograph is Proof
What is Feels Like to Be a Ghost
Can’t Look Back
Already to Go
Make Damn Sure



See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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