Gig Review: Death Cab for Cutie, Manchester Academy 1, March 3, 2006

Death Cab for CutieI’m going to get this out of the way at the start: I hate the O.C. I mean that with all my heart and soul. Okay, it’s great hangover television on a Sunday afternoon, but for what it’s done to the state of indie gigs, I really really really really wish a horrid pox on the houses of everyone involved with that insipid program.

Two years ago, Death Cab for Cutie were playing a not-quite-full Academy 3 to an adult audience that didn’t shriek like crazed Westlife fans whenever Ben Gibbard took a deep breath. Last Friday they had sold out the Academy 1 and they were playing to an audience of 14-year-olds who did shriek like crazed Westlife fans every time Ben Gibbard took a deep breath. The row of parents’ cars dropping off and picking up was testament to the the ages of the new additions to the Death Cab cult.

Now, I’m not saying in any way that teenagers discovering a great band like DCFC early is at all a bad thing. Nor am I saying that it’s a bad thing that DCFC are now reaching more people. However, I could do without crowds that aren’t used to leaving the house without adult supervision behaving like, well, children and shrieking like cats in heat because the lead singer twitches an eyebrow. I would also prefer smaller gigs as going to the Academy 1 is a risky proposition – stand at the barrier and be deafened by the speaker stack or crushed to death by youngsters who think moshing is a death sport, or stand further back and see nothing and still be deafened by what is often very bad sound. I’d always rather be seeing bands at the Night & Day or the Academy 3. I will give the newly acquired young fans this much – they did seem to know every line to every song. I would suspect, however, that this is a result of illegal downloading and it probably hasn’t swelled the bank balances of either Barsuk Records or Death Cab themselves.

As for the show itself….

John Vanderslice opened and he seemed a nice enough fellow. I’d read his name somewhere on Pitchfork and he sounded pretty much like you would expect a band opening for DCFC would sound. If I hadn’t been anticipating the main performance so much I’d have more to say about him I’m sure. He did invite the entire crowd out for a curry after the gig. I doubt he had many takers as it would have been past most of the audience’s curfew.

Death Cab emerged to “Marching Bands of Manhattan” and promptly played a series of absolutely classic tracks including “We Laugh Indoors,” “The New Year,” “Soul Meets Body,” “A Movie Script Ending” and “Title and Registration.” The first half of the set, in fact, was absolutely perfect. They even included my favourite ever Death Cab song, “Photobooth.” The second half of the set was rather more obscure, including some early tracks and a dedication to the man who both booked and housed the band the first time they ever came to Manchester, a good five years ago. The latter half of the set included lovely renditions of “Different Names for the Same Thing, “What Sarah Said,” “I will Follow You Into the Dark” and “The Sound of Settling.”

Now, I’d seen DCFC a couple of times previously and what always stays with me about them is their sincerity and their sweetness. Now, maybe they had “rocked out” during previous shows but that didn’t particularly remain in my memory of those gigs if they did. Friday night, however, on a big stage which looked half empty, they owned the room. They were outgoing, they were energetic, they moved around and they were full of noise and huge, noisy guitar riffs. The Ledge commented when I remarked that Death Cab were not meant to “rock” that if they had played the songs on Plans like they had played them live, the album would make much more sense to him, as he’s not a massive fan of the squeaky-clean production. I can see where he’s coming from. I wouldn’t have thought the songs would work like this but they sounded massive. They played a blinding gig and seem to have expanded their sound very successfully to fill the ever-increasing size of the venues.

They left the stage to the shout of “See you in April” at which time, should there be another tour announced, I can only hope that it will not involve having to brave the talking hordes that frequent the Apollo and that they can somehow manage to equal yet another fabulous performance which has left me still smiling four days later.

14 Responses to “Gig Review: Death Cab for Cutie, Manchester Academy 1, March 3, 2006”

  • Tom Says:

    I haven’t been to ac1 for ages, but I really would have loved to have seen death cab… mainly coz admittedly I’ve only just discovered them and all the songs make me want to see them live.

  • Paul Says:

    Hey – i’m surprised that you didn’t make it to the Bloc Party gig at Academy 3 instead which was on the same night. I sold my DCFC tickets to go to the Bloc Party gig instead. Reet good it was too.

  • JustHipper Says:

    Nah, wanted to see DCFC. We’ve seen Bloc Party in a tiny venue and they’ll be back soon enough anyway. Plus we’re not in the fanclub. DCFC gigs are rare and all the more special as a result.

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » JustHipper’s Top 10 Gigs of 2006 Says:

    […] We’ve seen some amazing gigs this year and this was a really difficult list to compile. It’s worth the near-misses of Richard Hawley, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Death Cab For Cutie getting a mention as well. But here’s my top 10: […]

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » Gig Goer of the Week: Death Cab For Cutie Review, Manchester Apollo, 16th July 2008 Says:

    […] it wasn’t. There was talking. And there was more talking. And even more talking. Where the last time we saw Death Cab I was bemused and disturbed that the average age of the crowd was around 16 yet they knew all the […]

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