10 years on since their last Manchester show, Dashboard Confessional return to Manchester Academy for an intimate show.
The last time that Dashboard Confessional played in the UK, It was 2008, and as an extremely broke student, I spent most of my money on 9p noodles and the occasional adult beverage, so I couldn’t afford the fifteen or so pounds for a ticket to go and see them. Little did I know that the next time they’d be in my city would be so far away.
A polished, slick band at the vanguard of emo/indie, Dashboard’s songs often popped up to underscore emotional moments in TV and film throughout the early 2000s, not to mention providing the soundtrack to the angsty teenage years of many a millennial. Much of this appeal stems from frontman Chris Carrabba, undoubtedly the heart of the band, underlined by this gig starting with just Chris taking to the stage with an acoustic guitar, playing through raw unplugged versions of the first few songs of the set.
With only a handful of songs from the latest album being played, the crowd was happy to sing along with every word of all the hits, reciting back the most heartfelt lines. During the second round of solo acoustic songs, however, we were treated to a brand new song that had been written during this tour, so new that a crew member helpfully brought out a set of printouts of the lyrics for Carrabba to crib from.
The rest of the set continued with a blend of hits from across the band’s discography, building to the crescendo of a one-song encore of the ode to new love ‘Hands Down’. For a band whose catalog is filled with the kind of bittersweet sadness that inspired a million MSN status messages, the set was structured to leave everyone on a high, smiling as the house lights came up.
Live music is as much about the experience as the sound, and for me personally, this gig answered a long-held question. I’ve often wondered why Dashboard Confessional never quite hit the heights they could have as a band; with a unique but radio, TV, and Movie friendly sound, alongside a photogenic frontman who looks like someone had another go at building Adam Levine. They seem to have everything that a major label would look for. While the reasons are, I’m sure, many and complex, part of it is surely down to the fact that they are such dorks. Engaging in between songs, the whole band is awkward and shy, still with the vulnerability of being outsiders who never quite fitted in. The band is truly authentic and looked to really enjoy doing their thing in front of a crowd of devotees. This UK tour was always going to be intimate, the band building up their following over in Europe again after a long absence. Fans were definitely rewarded for their patience with a gig that felt more like seeing an old friend again than a high production show, and it was all the better for it.