Artists: Death Cab For Cutie

Venue: Manchester Academy

Review by: Andrew Hirst

HAVING never been to the Manchester Academy before it sure took some finding.

It’s not signposted at all – unless I blinked as I passed every one.

It’s a cavernous and sweaty place and black – very black – ripe for a Death Cab For Cutie gig.

I’ve a slight problem with the name. Clever it may be and no doubt beloved by the band’s dedicated followers, but it can conjure up the wrong image for the mainstream.

Are they missing out as a result with the more blinkered among us expecting thrash metal?

Frontman Ben Gibbard took the band name from a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song that was in The Beatles’ 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour.

In fact, what the band from Washington State in America serves up is thought-provoking guitar pop that takes its indie roots into a whole new inventive sphere.

One minute they’re blasting out pop anthems – and let’s face it You Are A Tourist is one of the best songs written this year – and the next Gibbard pops up at the back of the set playing piano or up front and alone with his acoustic guitar.

His voice has such a natural aura to it, a sweet West Coast feel with just a hint of bitterness.

He looks like he doesn’t even have to try, clearly the man’s got a musical gift and both he and Walla have explored an experimental side to their music which works phenomenally well.

The slurring strings on album title track Codes And Keys is a taster of the kind of quirkiness they now work in to just about every track.

The band has released seven albums throughout its career yet with Codes And Keys released on May 31 they have reached a new peak and the band live gives the songs a whole new dimension.

The band are certainly comfortable with it. Gibbard is quoted as saying: “I’m so proud of this album that at this point I don’t care if people don’t like it.’’

So speaks a man who knows he’s on to a winner.

The set lasted just short of two hours.

They gave it everything and then some more with an encore that ran to a further four songs.

This is one cab that deserves to be hailed.