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March 19, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Review – Death Cab For Cutie

It’s been a good haul at this year’s International Arts Festival, not least of all with the late inclusion of Seattle ‘indie’ quartet Death Cab for Cutie, on their inaugural trip to New Zealand. They played the Wellington Town Hall on Wednesday February 29 for a highly anticipated show, one fifteen years in the making. The band took the unassuming, black-clad stage, with frontman Ben Gibbard quickly conceding to the crowd “How could we only just get here? What were we thinking?”

Although technically on tour in support of their latest album Codes and Keys, it promised to be a show encompassing a good portion of Death Cab’s much- loved back catalogue. Though a bit slow to start and hampered with a few sound difficulties, they soon won over the crowd with favourites such as ‘Crooked Teeth’ and ‘What Sarah Said’, stand-outs from what is arguably their best-known album, Plans. Gibbard’s energy was impressive, with those in the front row in danger of being showered with his sweat (though this probably wouldn’t have been unwelcome to most). However, his stage banter was a little weak, despite being a good-natured effort to connect with a new country. Some of the best cuts from the new album were performed, including ‘You Are a Tourist’ and title track ‘Codes and Keys’, but most would agree that songs from previous albums, dating back to 2000’s We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, were the favourites of the night.

When Gibbard took the stage solo, armed only with an acoustic guitar to perform the sombre, but sweet, ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’, girls throughout the audience began to weep (full disclosure: I did not). His performance was flawless and essential, even when he was little drowned out by the audience reciting every word along with him. Also essential, and a definite highlight, was the extended coda to ‘We Looked Like Giants’–Gibbard took his place behind a small drum kit for a battle with drummer Jason McGerr, showcasing considerable skill in the process.

After a four-song encore and a total two hours of playing, Death Cab departed the stage with no doubt as to their being welcome back again. Gibbard also posted on his Twitter afterwards that it was the best show of the tour. Good on us.

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