Live Reviews

Dashboard Confessional – live

Scala, London.
20th January 2008.

What better way to conquer the Sunday night blues than fight fire with fire? Best known for his heart wrenching lyrics mixed with a wonderfully bitter tongue and melancholic outlook, Chris Carrabba, ex frontman of Further Seems Forever, played one of his first gigs of the 2008 with a sold out show at Scala.

Having left his band mates cooling their heels in Florida, preparing to record the new album, Carrabba’s playing on borrowed guitars in a venue that’s packed to the rafters with a crowd of all ages. In the ten years that he’s been performing under the mantle of ‘Dashboard Confessional‘ he’s attracted a cult like fan base, which is evident tonight in the word perfect sing-alongs that almost drown his voice out.

Kicking off proceeding with ‘The Swiss Army Romance‘ which we’re rarely treated to live, it becomes clear that we could be in for some old favourites. “Tonight I’m going to pay a lot of old songs” – cue cheering- “…and some new ones!” -cue booing. However Carrabba is in a jovial mood, laughing and joking with the crowd and taunting us with the opening chords of ‘Screaming Infidelities’ before pausing, laughing and throwing himself back into the track. Picking and choosing from 5 studio albums, Carrabba is open to suggestions from the crowd, and apologizes if he’s missed out anyone’s favourites, promising to just keep on coming back till he’s kept everyone happy.

Stripped of his backing band, Carrabba still exudes an amazing stage presence. He has the ability to look at home on any stage, be it at a sold out Madison Square Gardens, or in the tiny Barfly. ‘The Good Fight’ rings out loud across the audience, and ‘Don’t Fight’ is treated like an old favourite. ‘Vindicated’, usually played with crashing guitars, has a new passion and attitude, so much so that even Carrabba himself concedes that he’s never heard it so good. During ‘Where There’s Gold’ two bras are pinged onto the stage, and Carrabba seems very taken with the leopard print one, “It has rhinestones..and its says ‘Sexy’ on it…like the leopard print and rhinestones weren’t enough?” he laughs.

Tonight there is something very compelling about Chris’s performance, he has the ability to vocalize thoughts and emotions in a way rarely bettered by others. We’re treated to a new song ‘ Get Me Right’ which is sharp and exciting, proving that despite that seemingly incessant album releases, it’s clear that they have many more quality tracks waiting in the wings. Highlight of the night goes to ‘Again I Go Unnoticed’, a punchy track that always sounds so much better when it’s stripped down, the anger, the desperation pouring out some from lyrics that are shouted back from the audience.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Dashboard Confessional took it’s first faltering steps, Carrabba’s way of coping after a particularly acrimonious breakdown. For an artist to generate such a fervent and loyal fan base over so many years proves what a talented singer/songwriter he is, and tonight he’s cements his position at the forefront of the genre.

Dee Massey