Kristen Blush

"Well, it's official," said Jeremy Enigk between songs at the Paramount on Friday night. "We are Sunny Day Real Estate, back from a long sleep." It had been 15 years since the band last played Seattle with their full original lineup, the quartet responsible for the band's landmark mid-'90s albums Diary and LP2, and they seemed genuinely happy—and humbled—to be there onstage again. This was the final night of a warmly received reunion tour, and the band was in fine form, sounding like they hadn't aged a day since their sudden split in 1995. Enigk greeted the crowd with just a "Wow, hello," before the band launched into "Friday" and "Seven," the opening tracks, respectively, of their sophomore and debut albums. It was a hell of a way to start the triumphant homecoming show.

The concert concentrated on those two records, those featuring the "classic" lineup, although the band also made room for material from their late-'90s incarnation as a trio as well as a pretty stunning new song written since the band's regrouping this year. Throughout, they proved themselves to still be masters of that old loud-quiet-loud dynamic, of contrasting and conflating emotions—a kind of ecstatic sadness alternating with rage and calm. They're also clearly a product of their time and place, though, as much textbook emocore as they are at times almost "grunge" or "alternative rock," with Enigk's voice approaching the dreaded "yarl" when he really strains it screaming.

The band didn't speak much between songs (Enigk's always been a dramatically soft-spoken, often unintelligible frontman), but when they did, they were exceedingly gracious. And they were plenty emotive in song. Enigk gently swayed as if tethered to the microphone or contorted his (weirdly delicate) face with screams during the band's many climatic crescendos. SDRE may cite U2 as a significant musical influence, but there's a world of difference between the bands' live personas: Whereas Bono goes for outsized messianic poses, Enigk comes across as a penitent disciple, almost monkish with his bald-shaved head. Backing him, William Goldsmith pounded and reached behind his drum kit, Nate Mendel swiveled a little stiffly at the hips (a move you may recognize from a few Foo Fighters videos), and the whole band rocked out, headbanging or at least nodding hard on the heavier riffs.

About their new song: It featured a bright, arpeggiated guitar line (maybe a little reminiscent of the organ intro of "Baba O'Riley"?), a slow-churning rhythm that erupted into a huge drumroll, and Enigk singing lines about "falling out of grace," "falling deeper," and finally, optimistically, "crawling out of hell," with Enigk concluding, as if to sanctify the band's reunion and hint at more new material to come, "It's getting sweeter, I can tell." It was a truly promising new song.

Things peaked with the epic "In Circles," the first song of the band's (obviously obligatory) encore. Enigk sang, "Sincerity/Trust in me," and it really felt like this was a band unfrozen from a time before irony—they're a big, shamelessly emotional band, and you really get the feeling that they believe every word. "Running down," maybe, but this was without question a victory lap. recommended