Review: Death Cab For Cutie - Hamer Hall, Melbourne

Written by: Jack Kennedy

Written by: Jack Kennedy

As the gates to our beautiful summer festivals began to close, the doors to autumn kindly opened up this week, and with that Australia was gifted another tour from Death Cab For Cutie. It was the first time the indie rock pioneers from Seattle had visited our shores since the winter of 2015, and it was amazing to have them back to say the least. 

This time around they decided to take us to the depths of Melbourne’s Hamer Hall to present us their new album ‘Thank You For Today’. Opening up the night was Hatchie, another great artist that Brisbane has given us. Her washed out, dreamy 90’s rock was a great vibe to begin the night where she played us songs such as her debut hit Try’, ’Sure’,  ‘Adored’ and her latest single ‘Without A Blush’. Playing live as a four piece, she had a huge sound which mirrored the sounds of some of the great stadium rock bands of the 90’s in The CranberriesPlacebo and there’s even some hints of some early Coldplay in there too.

Death Cab For Cutie hit the stage just after 8:30, and got straight into their new material. They opened their set with the synth driven I Dreamt We Spoke Again,' followed by the upbeat ‘Summer Years’ before taking us back to their 2015 release in ‘The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive’. After their opening track, frontman Ben Gibbard told the seated crowd that they were more than welcome to get up on their feet and have a dance. About 10 people in the front stalls took him up on this, however a vast majority of the crowd seemed happy in their seats.

They wound back the clock for their next couple of songs, where we heard the bass and drum driven ‘Long Division’ before winding the clock back even further to play the first track of the night from Transatlanticism in ‘Title And Registration’. The gradual build up throughout this track is done with a great amount of restraint, something that Death Cab do so well in all of their songs. The crowd began to get a bit more involved from this point with more people getting up off their seats for this track.

As we approached the middle section of their set, we heard songs such as ‘Gold Rush’, ‘Crooked Teeth’ and their 2001 hit, ‘A Movie Script Ending’ and ’No Sunlight’. The crowd gave their biggest applause for the night when they heard the low-fi drum intro to ‘A Movie Script Ending’.  From the beautiful lyrics in this song, the jangly guitar parts in the verses and the harmonies in the chorus, it really does make it one of their more emotional songs in my opinion.

They went on to perform one of my personal favourite tracks from ‘Thank You For Today’ in ’60 & Punk’.  It’s a real slow burner that begins with a piano riff washed out with a plate reverb, and Gibbard’s vocals. The chorus is when the song truly comes to life with a bending bass riff. “Day dreaming about the upcoming tour, were you happier when you were poor?? Were you happier when you were poor?????”, sings Gibbard in the bridge before leading into the final chorus. A lyric that unfortunately must ring true with so many musicians these days.

Bassist Nick Harmer led us into ‘I Will Posses Your Heart’ with the bass riff that kicks off the song and the crowd went wild. While there were still no more than half a dozen people on their feet, it didn’t stop Gibbard and his band from giving it all on stage as the song slowly builds into the masterpiece that it is.

Next up the band dove deep into their archives when the Seattle rockers played their year millennial track for us in ’Title Track’, which was then followed by ‘Autumn Love’, ‘Black Sun’, ‘Northern Lights’, ‘Cath’ and ’Soul Meets Body’ which closed out their set. But the crowd knew there was more coming, as their were some noticeable songs omitted from their set.

Gibbard walked back out on stage with just himself and an acoustic guitar, and performed a haunting rendition of none other than ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’. It was at this very moment where everybody in the room were up on their feet, holding on to every lyric that came out of Gibbard’s mouth. The whole crowd sang, and most likely cried along to the lyrics that make this in my opinion one of the greatest songs of the 2000s.

They closed off their encore with the eight minute long ‘Transatlanticism’, which is also my favourite song of Death Cab For Cutie’s. Gibbard begins the song on his grand piano, before grabbing his guitar for the finale. They make this song bigger than Ben Hur when they perform this live, finishing the song with 3 guitars and all members of the band screaming the concluding lyric “come on, come on, come on”.

Thank you Death Cab For Cutie.