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Death Cab for Cutie finally catch fire

Opera House, Boston, November 2, 2006

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Death Cab for Cutie came riding high into Boston for the first of two shows in its umpteenth tour in support of their major label debut, "Plans," from 2005.

But it sure took an awfully long time for Death Cab to get into high gear, a good two-thirds of the way through the 90-minute show.

The basic problem was that the mood for the most chunk of the show was pretty much the same - mid-tempo, settle into the sound and then not do a whole lot more with it. The show started off promisingly enough with "405" from 2000's "We Have The Facts & We're Voting Yes." The soft song built as it went along with sure handed drumming from Jason McGerr.

"New Year," from their breakthrough indie CD "Transantlaticism" (and their last for indie label Barsuk Records before switching to Atlantic) kicked in when Death Cab upped the tempo.

And after that, it varied very little - softer songs without much movement and not all that much different a tempo or musical potpourri to keep it interesting.

While Death Cab has said that shifting to bigger venues means offering more of a show, that wasn't necessarily much in evidence either. The crowd didn't seem to soak up the music particularly with applause, of course, but not fanatic enthusiasm either.

Benjamin Gibbard is a decent enough lead singer and an affable personality, but he spent more time talking about opener Ted Leo than much of anything else that might lead the audience to higher places.

Finally, Death Cab kicked into gear on "What Sarah Said" from "Plans" with its haunting line "So who's gonna watch you die?"

And then with a few more songs from "Plans," including "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" with Gibbard really changing it up by going solo acoustic and a strong version of "Soul Meets Body," Death Cab was heading in the right direction. On "We Looked Like Giants," Gibbard pounded away on a smaller drum kit, striking away in unison at times with McGerr in probably the most powerful song of the night.

Too bad that Death Cab was way into the show to get it together. If only the energy level could have been sustained at a far earlier point.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists opened the show with a sharp half hour of rock with edge. It was guitar driven by Leo plus sure-handed drumming by Chris Wilson.



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