Dashboard Confessional-Academy 2, Manchester (15th November 2018)

Emo has come a long way since Chris Carrabba-Dashboard Confessional’s lead-singer and creative force-was last on these shores. It has faded from the mainstream; experienced a ‘revival, and has a diversified sound, which couldn’t be more from the generic, befringed bands of the early 00’s. Dashboard Confessional has never been one for trends, however, and has continued to produce earnest, emotional indie-rock for the better part of two decades. It’s Carrabba’s love for this kind of music and its fans, which has resulted in the crowds flocking to hear their old favourites, once again.

Black Foxes get proceedings underway. The three-piece’s blend of math, emo and noise-rock is technically proficient, and there are some gems here. However, some of the low-fi noise blurs into one by the end of the set. Their enthusiasm and gratitude to Dashboard for taking them on tour is commendable, however.

Making a somewhat subdued entrance to the stage, Carrabba emerges alone, save for his acoustic guitar. Opening the set with the maudlin ‘The Best Deceptions’ is a bold choice. However, as every word is sung back ten-fold by the crowd, it’s very clear, that it was the right choice. Carrabba is shortly joined onstage by the rest of the band, and the full-band incarnation of Dashboard Confessional break into ‘Vindicated’, from 2006’s ‘Dusk and Summer’. The contrast between the two tracks couldn’t be starker, but both are executed brilliantly.


It’s all nostalgia from here, as the band run through ‘The Sharp Hint of New Tears’ , ‘The Good Fight’ and ‘Saints and Sailors’. The band rarely strays from material recorded pre-2006, which is exactly what this audience want. The only exceptions to this rule are the inclusions of ‘We Fight’ from the band’s latest record-‘Crooked Shadows’, and the somewhat surprising inclusion of ‘Get Me Right’. Carrabba famously doesn’t consider the two albums following ‘Dusk and Summer’ to be among his best work, so it’s interesting and welcome, that ‘Get Me Right’ gets an airing.

Following this, Carrabba runs through old favourites from ‘The Swiss Army Romance’, ‘The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most’, and ‘A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar’. Both the tracks played as a full band, and those just featuring Carrabba with his acoustic guitar go down equally well.


The penultimate song of the set-‘Vindicated’-is especially poignant; the track featuring on the ‘Spider Man 2’ Soundtrack makes a touching tribute to Stan Lee, the creative genius behind Marvel Comics, who passed away a week previously. The song is always well received, however, tonight, it takes on extra significance.

Closing the set-as always-with ‘Hands Down’, Dashboard Confessional get their biggest sing-along of the night. A song about Carrabba’s favourite romantic experience; it’s a timeless tribute to teenage love, and staying young.


All-in-all, this set was a success. While Carrabba’s ‘aw, shucks’ interactions with the crowd can become grating on occasion, they are-for the most part-endearing. Carrabba’s everyday romantic lyrics are universal, and this crowd has been relating to these lyrics for years. It’s a testament to the quality of Dashboard’s songwriting that these songs are still being sung back with heart, well over a decade since they were first released. It’s clear that this genre-and this band in particular-still matter to a hell of a lot of people, all these years later. A band can receive no higher praise than that!