Review: Death Cab For Cutie live at Rock City, Nottingham

SUCCESS has been a long time coming for Death Cab For Cutie – and their set tonight perfectly reflects that slow-burning sense of accomplishment.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 7th July 2011, 11:44 am

“Here’s a little story for you,” drawls Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard, mocking slack-jawed American acoustic guitar-wielding hicks everywhere. “I hate it when they say that – I prefer to apply it.”

And therein lies the beauty of Death Cab – they’re a band built on subtlety.

Beginning with Bend To Squares from their 1998 debut album Something About Airplanes is a bold opening gambit, as it could have proven a tad obscure for the majority who are here for the hit parade of latter day Death Cab, but it’s a risk that pays dividends as it immediately reminds all present of the enviable depth of their rich back catalogue.

It immediately creates a hypnotizing atmosphere that is soon pierced by a rousing and triumphant rendition of The New Year, before the syncopated rhythms and stark melodies of We Laugh Indoors fill the room with a positive tension.

It’s the glorious early outing of crowd favourite Crooked Teeth that provides the first mass sing-along of the evening – but it’s by no means the last.

Death Cab’s strength lies in their ability to crack out thoughtful and soul-searing tracks that are both touchingly introspective but inescapably anthemic, and tonight’s set is a true tour-de-force of what they do best.

New track Doors Unlocked And Opened from their latest effort Codes And Keys shows the promise of becoming another such Death Cab classic. With a pounding and infectious kraut-rock rhythm and packed with stadium-sized hooks, it lands well with a very receptive audience.

What Sarah Said sees in the lofty ballad section of the set that sees lighters held aloft and friends arm in arm, culminating in a mass campfire chorus for the frankly gorgeous I Will Follow You Into The Dark.

Only a band like Death Cab could keep an audience so enraptured through a song so brooding as the eight-minute jam version of I Will Possess Your Heart and the celestial pop elegance of latest single You Are A Tourist is yet another highlight of a performance that boasts an awful lot of highlights.

As the packed room swells in adulation during the communal anthemic refrain on closer Transatlanticism and the final spine-tingling moment of the evening sends a shudder throughout the crowd, one can’t help but admire Death Cab.

In packing 25 songs of acclaimed rock genius into their set, DCFC display more moments of life-affirming brilliance in just under 2 hours than most bands would in an entire career.

There may be beauty hidden in the subtle lights and shades of this band, but the brilliance of Death Cab For Cutie band has never been more obvious.

Review by Andrew Trendell