Death Cab For Cutie - Brixton Academy
On a very warm and bright evening in London town, I braved the young, possibly O.C. watching crowd and crammed myself somewhere near the front of Brixton Academy to catch Death Cab For Cutie.
However, Viva Voce kicked things off first with they're weird drone-like Americana... the tunes on their myspace page made them sound a lot like Gorky's Zygotic Mynci to me, but live they were very basic and very loud. Starting their set as just a guitar and drum duo, there was plenty of rhythmic force as feedback ran out of the guitar with a twist of the hips and wrists. Things became a bit more interesting when they were joined by another member baring an acoustic guitar. It added more depth to the songs with added vocal harmonies as well. I'm still not sure who or what they sounded like really, but the set was enjoyable and certainly a band I'll look out for in future.
We're then treated to an hour and a half of Death Cab For Cutie's greatest hits. An impressive setlist that took only 3 songs that weren't on "Transatlantism" or "Plans". It was a setlist as close to perfect as it could get for someone who hadn't seen them before (yup, that's me). Their set began with a great version of "Passenger Seat" which might not have struck anyone as the perfect intro, but is worked brilliantly. Gibbard bounces around the piano and his vocals have an added strength live that I didn't expect. As they progress into "Different Names For The Same Thing" the renowned energy that these guys have live becomes apparent as the band pulsates on stage. Considering the kind of music that they're seen to make - music for sad, lonely geeks to cry to - the live set is full of spirit and, maybe it could be said, aggression that you wouldn't expect.
As the evening progresses we're treated to great renditions of "The New Year", "Title And Registration", "Transatlantism", "Marching Bands of Manhattan", "What Sarah Said", "The Sound of Settling" and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" to name just a few, though it becomes apparent that the crowd are mainly post-"Transatlantism" groupies. The songs from their early albums, especially from "We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes", go down almost un-noticed, whereas songs from the previous two albums are cheered and sung along to. I believe The OC has a lot to be thanked and blamed for in equal measure!
What I did take away from this great evening was that the emotional connection that comes from listening to Death Cab records is an unusual one as it tends to be very personal. Listening to these songs being played live in front of hundreds of people is an odd experience as they all mean something different and personal to each individual listener. The fact that the sound is given more of an edge live helps disconnect you from the album version and you end up loving these songs again, but different versions of them - these ones are shared and become all the more invigorating because of it.