One of my favorite live bands is Death Cab For Cutie who came to play in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Maverick Center on August 22, 2011. I’m a big fan of Death Cab’s albums and Ben Gibbard’s excellent songwriting. Their albums are always a nice mix of good rock songs mixed with some mellow, dreamlike music. The albums are always very well produced so it’s very interesting to see how their songs translate live. Can Death Cab For Cutie bring it for a live show?
I have to say that Death Cab For Cutie is one of the best bands I’ve heard play live. What you hear on the albums is what you get at the shows but better. That’s rare for bands that sound so good on their recordings. Death Cab For Cutie recreates all the sounds you hear on the albums with the added bonus of bringing a higher energy to the music when they play it live. They pick up the tempos on some of the songs and Gibbard delivers the lyrics with more urgency in the live setting. It gives the songs a punch that isn’t as present on their albums and that’s one of the things that makes their live shows so enjoyable.
Another thing that I love about Death Cab For Cutie live is their sound. They use excellent equipment live including Dr. Z amplifiers, Fender amplifiers and a mix of Fender, Vox and Gibson guitars. They also use a variety of vintage electric pianos and keyboards live which give a full, rich sound to their show. The mix always seems to be well balanced and clean whenever I see a Death Cab For Cutie show. The acoustics at the Maverick Center aren’t the best and Death Cab’s sound was a little more brittle than I’ve heard from them in the past but that’s because of the room. If you want to hear good sounding equipment, listen to Death Cab For Cutie live.
The band was in good form and brought a lot of energy to the stage in Salt Lake City. The crowd was smaller than I’ve seen at other Death Cab For Cutie shows in Salt Lake City. The crowd may have seemed smaller because the Maverick Center is the biggest arena they’ve played in Salt Lake City. Still, it was only about half full and I’m estimating the crowd to be around 5000 people. Ben Gibbard told the crowd how much he loved playing in Salt Lake City. The crowd that was there gave the band a lot of love and got moving pretty well. I felt like the crowd was more involved with the music and the message of the lyrics than they were with dancing. Still, there were times when everyone in the arena was on their feet and dancing to the music.
Highlights of the night were fan favorites such as “I Will Posess Your Heart” which kicked off the show. Other songs that brought the crowd to their feet were “Soul Meets Body” as well as “The New Year“. The New Year is one of my personal favorites and is the song which turned me onto Death Cab For Cutie. Their live version of it is amazingly similar to the album yet somehow deeper sounding. The band finished their main set with “We Looked Like Giants”.
The band is touring in support of their new album Codes and Keys which presents the band in a more experimental frame than on some of the past albums. Still, Codes and Keys has some great rock music that translates well in the live setting. The band played “You Are A Tourist” and “Doors Unlocked and Open” among others from the Codes and Keys album.
When the band played “We Looked Like Giants” guitarist Chris Walla played bass while bassist Nick Hammer played guitar and keyboards. It was really cool to watch the musicians switch things up and play various instruments. Ben Gibbard even played his own drumset along with drummer Jason McGeer. It was really cool hearing two drumsets rocking out to such a heavy beat.
The band came back onstage and played a nice set of encores which included the songs “Pictures In An Exhibition”, “Stay Young Go Dancing” and the excellent song “Transatlanticism“. It was a rock solid finish to an excellent night of music. I really enjoyed Death Cab For Cutie this night and I look forward to seeing them play live again. If you have a chance to see Death Cab For Cutie play a live show, don’t miss it!
Death Cab For Cutie – Salt Lake City Set List August 22, 2011
- I Will Possess Your Heart
- Crooked Teeth
- Why You’d Want To Live Here
- Doors Unlocked and Open
- Long Division
- Grapevine Fires
- Codes and keys
- Summer Skin
- Follow You Into The Dark
- You Are A Tourist
- The New Year
- Movie Script Ending
- Underneath The Sycamores
- Soul Meets Body
- Expo 86
- We Looked Like Giants
- Sound Of Settling
- Title Track
- Pictures In An Exhibition
- Stay Young Go Dancing
Death Cab For Cutie Live In Salt Lake City Playing “I Will Posess Your Heart”