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Death Cab for Cutie, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane

Unfortunately, and in keeping with the general lack of time around these parts lately, this post might need to be a bit short. But on Friday night, I saw one of my top 5 shows that I’ve ever seen at the Tivoli… Death Cab for Cutie. And what a set it was.

An Horse
An Horse kicked off the night…

The night was started off by Brisbane band, An Horse, who I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard before. Suffice to say, this duo (Kate Cooper and Damon Cox) opened up the night in cracking form, and the crowd was very receptive to them. Although their music often comes across as a sheer wall of sound, after a while the intricacies of their tunes begins to dawn on you. And, just a personal observation here, but Damon was possibly one of the tightest drummers I’ve ever seen perform at The Tivoli. No shit.
Anyway, the main takeaway from these guys show? If you get a chance to see them play live, grab it with both hands. It was impressive to say the least.
I’ve included one of their tunes below, as a taster… their cracking tune, “Warm Hands“, which drew some major applause from the audience. You can tell from this track why these guys have opened for such bands as Tegan and Sara, and… of course… Death Cab.

Listen: An Horse – Warm Hands

Death Cab for Cutie at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Death Cab came onto the stage to thunderous applause…

When Death Cab for Cutie came on the stage, at around 9.30pm, the atmosphere was electric. The Tiv was pumping, and, on a side note, was containing easily the most amount of “OC fanbois and girls” that I’ve ever seen in one single point. The place was a literal sea of Seths and Summers.
Finally, the lights dimmed, and Gibbard et al entered the stage… and launched into, what else… but Bixby Canyon Bridge. From the first note, you could tell that the show was going to be special. Chris Walla was simply incendiary from the get-go, and Ben was bubbling with energy.
Thanks to Gary taking along his new camera, we actually have quite a bit of footage from the night, and I’ve included the “Bixby Canyon Bridge” performance below.

Death Cab for Cutie opening the night at the Tivoli, with “Bixby Canyon Bridge”

Despite some early teething problems with the sound levels (as can be seen at times in the above video), Death Cab were the ever-consummate professionals, giving everything in their performance… and soon the problems were sorted out.

Death Cab for Cutie at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Death Cab wowing the crowd at the Tiv…

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that – although this tour was ostensibly in support of their “Narrow Stairs” release – the set list that night consisted of songs from a number of their past releases, and wasn’t too heavily focused on their latest album. I have to admit, I blissed out a bit at one point (as I am wont to do at gigs), so instead of a breakdown of each song’s performance, here’s the band’s set-list from the night (with the track’s album included in parenthesis):

Death Cab for Cutie, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane, 22 August 2008 Setlist

1. Bixby Canyon Bridge (Narrow Stairs)
2. The New Year (Transatlanticism)
3. Why You’d Want to Live Here (The Photo Album)
4. Crooked Teeth (Plans)
5. Long Division (Narrow Stairs)
6. Grapevine Fires (Narrow Stairs)
7. A Movie Script Ending (The Photo Album)
8. Company Calls (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes)
9. Title Track (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes)
10. Soul Meets Body (Plans)
11. I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Plans)
12. I Will Possess Your Heart (Narrow Stairs)
13. Cath… (Narrow Stairs)
14. No Sunlight (Narrow Stairs)
15. Sound Of Settling (Transatlanticism)
16. Marching Bands of Manhattan (Plans)


17. Your Bruise (Something About Airplanes)
18. Title and Registration (Transatlanticism)
19. 405 (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes version)
20. Your Heart is an Empty Room (Plans)
21. Transatlanticism (Transatlanticism)

Highlights of the night, for me? Well, apart from the cop-out answer of “Everything!”, I’d have to say that I went into the night hoping to hear 3 songs; “Cath…“, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark“, and “405“… and each of those songs were simply amazing. Particularly the tender “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, which was dedicated to opening band “An Horse”, and had the entire crowd singing along with each and every syllable.

Death Cab for Cutie performing “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” live at the Tivoli.

Following that? The closing number of “Transatlanticism”. To be honest, it’s never been one of my favourite tunes, but the performance that night was simply electric. The energy and passion of the band was, quite simply, astounding. When Ben started plaintively crying “I need you so much closer!“, there truly was a feeling that something special was happening there that night… and we were carried away in a wave of emotion, riding Death Cab’s anger, pain, love and passion all in one movement. It’s a song that I’ll remember for a while, of that I have no doubt. Here it is, below.

Death Cab closing the night at the Tiv with a killer performance of “Transatlanticism”

Anyway… sorry there isn’t more detail in this post, but the problem with seeing a show on Friday, and then not posting until Monday due to being away from the computer is that you forget the small details. All that is left is that overwhelming, all-consuming feeling that you witnessed something special that night, and that – no matter how hard you try – you won’t be able to communicate just how it felt to someone else, unless they’d been there.

Yeah. That pretty much sums it up quite nicely, actually.

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Live Music Friday – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, live on NPR’s World Cafe

Just so that everyone knows, my iPod has officially given up the ghost, completely and utterly without warning. With most of my music on there, this is severely going to impact posting, and – quite frankly, more importantly – completely bums me out. Anyone want to start a “donate to help Matthew buy another iPod as he’s already in mountains of debt” fund? Oh wait, I already did… a shameless cry for help, yes, I know, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do…

Help a brother out, and keep the tunes flowing, would you? Click the donate button to help sponsor through Paypal. Every cent helps…

Anyway. Welcome back to another Live Music Friday. For today’s post, I thought I’d fall back on the always sublime Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Live

Last year, in 2007, I was finally lucky enough to see Ryan Adams & The Cardinals perform live at The Tivoli, in Brisbane… and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The band are unbelievably tight, and despite Ryan’s well-known cantakerous exterior, he really does have this magical ability to pull you right into the song, taking you along to ride the melody and lyrics beside him.

This set is also from 2007, from a performance on the always wonderful NPR’s World Cafe (which also gave us the wonderful Counting Crows performance featured here).

The show finds Ryan at his sardonic best, with sarcastic observations peppered between the songs.
If nothing else, make sure that you listen to the tracks “I Taught Myself To Grow Old”, with Ryan’s voice soaring at it’s heart-breaking best, and a lovely slower version of the normally manic “Let It Ride”. While it’s a short set-list, and lacks for the regular “Magnolia Mountain” and “Wildflowers”, it’s a powerful set nonetheless. And don’t worry… I have a much longer Ryan Adams show that I’m sure I’ll post in the future, with a 10 minute version of “Magnolia Mountain”, so no fear there.
Something about this show, however, just connects with me. It’s a Ryan Adams quality – and a very distinctive one at that – that when I hear him live, it hits me like a shovel to the chest. It’s a very personal connection, and one that no other artist has managed to come close to, for me at least (save for Alex Dezen of The Damnwells, who is nipping at Ryan’s heels for my adulation).

I suppose that that was really a long-winded way of saying: “Ryan’s music makes my world a better place. It describes that bit that is simply out of the reach of words“. And while that’s a terribly trite comment to read on a music blog, it’s true nonetheless.

I hope it does the same for you.

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, Live on World Cafe, 15 June 2007

1.) Introduction
2.) Two
3.) I Taught Myself To Grow Old
4.) Winding Wheel
5.) I See Monsters
6.) Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard
7.) Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.
8.) Nightbirds
9.) Let It Ride
10.) Blue Hotel