Live Review: Death Cab For Cutie

02 ACADEMY – 2/11

I once talked about Death Cab For Cutie with a guy that I quite liked,  who told me about this song by a great band he was listening to continuously.  Thinking we could grow closer bonding over his favourite band, I downloaded a few of their albums.  And then a few more, because Death Cab For Cutie have released 8 studio LPs since 1997.  In the end it didn’t work out with him, but I’m glad he made me listen to them because I think they’re pretty brilliant.

Death Cab are a well-established band who’ve been labelled as indie rock, indie pop, alt-rock and basically everything else on that spectrum.  One word that covers their gig at the O2 Academy tonight is ‘solid’.  They make no mistakes and they know how to entertain their audience.  However, one wouldn’t have minded some flaws, maybe a forgotten line or some creative experimentation.  At times the songs seemed to be transplanted to the live stage almost too faithfully.

Nevertheless, the energy these guys produce on stage is unbelievable.  The most striking is frontman Ben Gibson, who seems simply unable to stand still.  He’s moving all the time, not only around the stage during guitar solos, but also while entertaining with his lyrical virtuosities.  The fact that his shirt turns a much deeper shade after three songs because it’s completely drenched in sweat is probably enough of an illustration.  The audience take a while to get as warmed up, but the excitement is almost tangible during Death Cab’s best known song ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’.

Picking a setlist must be pretty hard when you’ve been writing songs for as long as I’ve been alive, thus the opening line of ‘No Room In Frame’, “I don’t know where to begin…” ring true among more knowledgeable fans.  The set is in a good place between melancholy and exuberance; between pulsating sounds created by several loop pedals and just the band and their guitars; between older songs and songs from latest record Kintsugi, such as the catchy ‘Black Sun’ that even induces guitarist Dave Pepper into some impressive onstage leaps.  Even without Chris Walla, Death Cab For Cutie are as excellent as ever.

[Aike Jansen]

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