Oh how I love Death Cab. Last night was the best concert I have ever been to in my life. The atmosphere was amazing to begin with. The Mann Center (for those of you who have never been there) is basically a covered amphitheater. So by the time the concert started, it was about 75 degrees outside with a nice breeze. Perfect weather for a concert. The band Rouge Wave opened for Death Cab, and they were alright, but I didn't really pay too much attention to them. They finished up around 8:45 and after about 20 minutes (felt like an eternity) Death Cab took the stage. During the downtime in between the two bands, my friend Lauren asks me "So what do you think they'll open with?" and I think about it for a second and I go "Well, Bixby Canyon Bridge was the first track on their latest cd... so that seems like a logical choice." Well sure enough, after the initial musical prelude, Ben Gibbard voice rings out "I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge" so yea, I totally called the first song. It was pretty sweet.
A few things I/we noticed right away that were kinda cool: Ben Gibbard did not occupy center stage. He and the other guitarist Chris Walla occupied opposite ends of the stage, while bassist Nick Harmer danced around towards the back of the middle of the stage, right in front of the drummer Jason McGerr. So that was kinda cool that they didn't single anyone out by sticking them front and center. Secondly, their use of smoke machines and lights was AMAZING. Finally, they had a real piano on stage, not just an electric keyboard. Time to time Gibbard and Walla would put down their guitars to go over and play part of the song on the piano. It was pretty neat.
So during Bixby Canyon Bridge, I decided to write down the set list so I could create a playlist for it later. The set list was as follows:
Bixby Canyon Bridge
The New Year
Why You'd Want to Live Here
A Movie Script Ending
Soul Meets Body
I Will Follow You Into the Dark
I Will Possess Your Heart
We Laugh Indoors
The Sound of Settling
Marching Bands of Manhattan
Then the encore, which I will get to later.
Watching Ben Gibbard on stage was pretty interesting. He had this weird way of moving while he played the guitar, it was like his knees wouldn't bend, so he hopped left-to-right from foot-to-foot frequently. It was entertaining and my friend and I got continued laughs from it.
So after Gibbard does an AMAZING version of I Will Follow You into the Dark (just him and his guitar) he finally goes into a prolonged story. He said "So we were playing in Brooklyn on Tuesday" and he was cut off there as everyone started booing. I thought "You know you're in Philly when the mere mention of New York elicits boos even when it isn't in connection with sports". After the boos died down he says "You guys can boo, but it's just where we were playing." and he continues on with his story. So he tells us how they were a few songs into the set when a "Hurricane wrapped in a tornado" hits Brooklyn and everyone is instantly soaked. He was disappointed that they couldn't finish the set for them that night, but then went on to say how much he loved the sound techs who broke their equipment down really quickly that night.
So then he breaks into I Will Possess Your Heart (great song, even better live) and they finish out their set. After about five minutes of cheering and screaming, they finally come back on stage to start their encore. They played:
Title and Registration (Gibbard used the piano for the music in the bridge, it was a great touch to the song)
405 (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs)
Your Heart is an Empty Room (in my opinion, this is their best song)
And as that last song was playing I started thinking "Well, they've played four songs now for the encore... I wonder if they'll end with this or if we will get Transatlanticism. They must hate playing that song all the time... but they can't not play it, they would disappoint everyone... and it's so good that they probably actually don't mind playing it..." Needless to say I was worrying a good bit, but as Your Heart is an Empty Room came to a close, Gibbard took of his guitar and made his way over to the piano. The rest of the band kept playing until Gibbard struck out the first notes of Transatlanticism on the piano. I was relieved and the place went crazy. As the music built to the part where Gibbard sings "I need you so much closer" I was amazed at how loud they were playing, it is hard to put into words, but it was so loud, but so good. Naturally they ended with Transatlanticism, as they rightfully should have.
The only things that really disappointed me about the concert were small. They played Marching Bands of Manhattan, but they didn't play the single piano note that ends the song, which really disappointed me, because it was the first time they walked off stage and I felt like had they played it, it would have been really poignant. I was also disappointed that they didn't play You Can Do Better than Me or What Sarah Said, but all in all, I couldn't complain much. This was by far the best concert I've ever been to.