Dashboard Confessional / Tournaments - Manchester Academy 2 - 22.01.08

So here’s a special one - an intimate Dashboard Confessional (a.k.a. Chris Carraba) acoustic show. An evening that I should be proud to be a part of as Carraba is no stranger to arena venues and seldom performs without a backing band. The air is a thick mist of teenagers’ tears evaporating under the sheer heat of the chock-full, sold-out venue, glaring stage lights and adolescent sexual tension.

The sole support act, Tournaments, are keen not to be pigeon-holed and play a 35 minute set that sounds at times like The Decemberists, at times like Badly Drawn Boy and occasionally like Smashing Pumpkins. Fortunately, they are at no time boring and their optimistic folk-rock is a joy to watch. Extra points are awarded for Tournaments being the only band I have ever known to have a tasteful violin player who is not incredibly annoying.

Considering tonight’s headliner is a one-man acoustic act, it doesn’t half take a long time to get the show rolling. It is after 9 o’ clock when Chris Carraba minces onstage with his immaculately coiffed hair, clearly the reason for the hold-up – does not he realise that most of these kids have to wake up early the next morning for school? Anyway, he is extremely well received by the largely female crowd and opens with the track “The Sharp Hint of New Tears” which rattles with sweet guitar tone and emotive melody. Carraba’s talent for song writing is clear as he delivers his songs with compassion and conviction but I can’t help but feel that he has chosen the dark side - angsty (ka-ching!), teeny love-songs, lacking in substance.

Being a manly man, Dashboard Confessional makes me uncomfortable as well as instilled with doubt as to what kind of genitals Chris Carraba actually has as he pours his heart all over a room crowded with people. Clearly a fellow audience member is on the same page as me as she shouts “get your cock out!” during a moment’s would-be-silence. Ladies and gentlemen, the tone has been lowered – why not write a song about how it makes you feel, Chris? In all seriousness, this show feels very exclusive and I feel excluded what with not being a huge Dashboard fan. It is overly intimate for the non-hardcore fan but that’s why it is so special for the majority of this crowd. At least a full band would be able to distract me from whiney lamentations but there is no where for me to look during those frequent awkward moments.

Tonight’s set, whilst being enjoyable, was definitely one for the hardcore fans and left little excitement for those unable to sing a long to every heart felt lyric.

Words: Ben Herbert
Photos: Mark Forrer - www.markforrer.co.uk


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