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8th December 2015

Live: Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie are the perfect nostalgia band; they will always be as good as you remember them

3rd November 2015

Manchester Academy


When Death Cab for Cutie started playing, I wondered how what are essentially a time-capsuled band of teenage angst could still be managing to do a world tour at big venues. When I looked at the crowd around me, it soon became apparent why; this was a crowd of aged, loyalist fans who had related to Death Cab’s music at some point, and not left since.

The set was kicked off with the first of many moody, yet atmospheric, songs about the futility concomitant with pursuing a girl, ‘No Room in Frame’. With added help from Zac Rae and Dave Depper, each on keys and guitar, the band managed to account for the loss of founding member Chris Walla with ease. The band sounded startlingly like their studio recordings—not much was added in terms of crowd interactions. The setlist was jerky in terms of coherence, with them going from the sullen, stripped back ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ to the much more instrumentally dense and heavy, ‘I Will Possess Your Heart.’

What the set did lack in order, it made up for in longevity as well as an attention to the crowd’s wants, even if brought across in a muddled way. Covering material from all of their eight studio albums, every member of the crowd was appeased, regardless of when they had joined the Death Cab train.

Although the lyrics felt emotively repetitive, the music can definitely be said to have progressed live with their new album Kintsugi (Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics, also a reference to being love sick) being much less guitar-centric. Crowd interaction could have been better from the band, with little-to-no breaks inbetween bundles of songs that didn’t really mesh well. Even though this powering through the setlist did highlight the aged band’s energy, it did also feel as though this was routine, with no spontaneity or unusual song choices. The most that frontman Ben Gibbard offered in terms of interaction to the crowd was a complaint that the towel he had been given “didn’t hold moisture like a towel should.”

Death Cab for Cutie have progressed live and remained unusually stagnant as artists, whether this is down to recent band member alterations or just simply that they’re a one-trick pony is anybody’s guess. They are the perfect nostalgia band; they will always be as good as you remember them.

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