Touring their 8th studio album Kintsugi, Death Cab for Cutie began their fairly brief UK-jaunt at a ram-packed Glasgow Academy, almost four years since their last Scottish appearance.
Supporting the forefathers of all things angsty were Seattle-based girl band Chastity Belt who deal in of-the-moment fuzzy, lo-fi pop-rock. They have choruses to tug at your attention but there’s nothing that hits you in the gut with that “who the f!@k are these guys?” kind of excitement, though in their defense, the sound quality really worked against them, with the lead vocals almost inaudible at points throughout their set. Simple songs, jangling guitar melodies and general affability pull them through but they still have a bit of convincing to do as far as I’m concerned.
In contrast, Death Cab for Cutie pulsed into life atop the thumping introductory bass drum kicks of recent single “No Room in the Frame” and didn’t let up from that moment onwards; treating fans to an old favourite in the shape of “Crooked Teeth” (which sounded utterly blistering) before tearing through “Why’d You Want to Live Here?” from 2001’s The Photo Album. With the precedent set, an already sweat-drenched Ben Gibbard afforded himself a moment to pause and say “Hello.”
Kintsugi unsurprisingly featured prominently on the evening’s setlist with “No Room in the Frame,” “Black Sun,” “Ghosts of Beverley Drive,” “Little Wanderer,” “You’ve Haunted Me All of My Life,” and “El Dorado” all included. While all of the new songs sound exciting, fresh, and beautifully textured, the real magic of a Death Cab show is the sheer amount and diversity of material they get through.
“President of What?” from You Can Play These Songs with Chords was an unexpected treat while “New Year” and “No Sunlight” saw the band lurching, impassioned, around the stage. Other highlights included the sprawling “I Will Possess Your Heart” and a sing-a-long inducing, acoustic rendition of hit “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” Given that they played for essentially two hours, there truly wasn’t a single lull throughout which is an exceptional achievement for any band.
Gibbard told fans he was worried when he learned that Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand were playing together on the same night across town but was overwhelmed that so many people had turned up to see them play. Closing with a gorgeous encore of a piano-vocal arrangement of “Passenger Seat,” “Title Track,” “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” and the ever-engrossing “Transatlanticism,” Death Cab for Cutie effortlessly sweated and writhed through a 24-song, career-spanning set of hits and, believe me, it was glorious.
Grab Death Cab for Cutie’s latest album Kintsugi on iTunes.