Death Cab for Cutie at the Palace 21/2/12
February 24, 2012
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Death Cab for Cutie are a band that has permeated, surpassed and been a stalwart of the ‘indie’ music scene since long before you bought your first pair of chinos and old SLR camera. Ugly stereotypes aside, Death Cab have a fine and deserved reputation as a creative and interesting rock band, writing songs about how great it is to be depressed. Their live show has long been said to be their one failing, aside from their decision to write a song for the Twilight soundtrack. I went into the gig with this information and without great expectations. This resulted in me not being overly disappointed in their surprisingly up-beat stage presence and engaging attitude. I wasn’t blown away, but I didn’t leave feeling unsatisfied. They played a range of their hits from their long careers, assuaging the unsettled portion of the crowd who, to borrow a phrase, ‘liked their old stuff better than their new stuff.’
However my one of my personal favorite songs, I Will Posses Your Heart was soured by an amateurish mistake from Ben Gibbard, whose vocal entry was much too early. To my trained and cynical ears this was very grating and only reinforced by the mediocre crowd. The crowd seemed to be made up of an inordinate number of teenage fan-girls who insisted on cooing and screaming at the recently divorced Gibbard’s every subtle move. I really didn’t understand it, it seemed they were hardly even paying attention to the set. 500 Days of Summer has a lot to answer for. The audience’s annoyance culminating during Death Cab’s classis acoustic tune I Will Follow You into the Dark. This is as I’m sure you know dear reader a beautiful, subtle and sublime love song, played only on acoustic guitar and supported by some seriously amazing lyrical prowess. Unfortunately much of the audience insisted on whooping and cheering half way through until some lad at the back yelled a firm “Shut Up” However, such special song could not be stifled and Gibbard still managed to bring the house down with his magnum opus.
The set continued and stagnated slightly, with new tracks ‘Home is a fire‘ and ‘Doors Unlocked and Open‘ sounding good, but really failing to grab me emotionally. Little Bribes, a leftover from the Narrow Stairs album was played and is still one of my favourite Death Cab songs, with the classic line ‘every slot machines is a robot amputee waving hello’ resonating and really capturing the spirit of Ben Gibbard’s lyrical prowess.
The main set came to a close with a brilliant rendition of Marching Bands of Manhattan . I doubt any other band could sing about the maritime geography of New York and make it sound so soulful and haunting. The encore came as expected ending with Transatlanticism and an epic long jam involving a secondary drum kit and absolutely chaotic energy from everyone on stage. Overall, the gig was impressive but not inspirational, it excited me, but did not make me ecstatic. We trudged out of The Palace theatre tired and happy at having seen a band who have been so important to me and alternative music scene over the past decade.