Meltdown Festival: Death Cab for Cutie and Fear of Men at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Brighton based four-piece Fear of Men support Seattle indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie tonight. The band emerge, the Royal Festival Hall fairly full with visitors making the trip early. Two large black Fs stand out on stage, outlined in blue, curiously looking like the Facebook logo.
Island, taken from 2016’s Fall Forever, is refreshing, singer-songwriter Jess Weiss’s vocals breathy and light. Undine sees her rock out, head-banging to the chorus. Before hearing Luna, the venue seems to be in a lull, and the track works to rouse the crowd a bit, while Sane begins with the gentle thrumming of cymbals and electric guitar, gradually growing louder – it’s the strongest song in their set. The group walks off the stage, surprisingly without so much as a goodbye or bow.
“Good evening!” exclaims Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard. He seems in high spirits, though their tracks are typically about death and other morbid matters. I’ll Follow You into the Dark sees the songwriter sing alone on stage, fans already whooping excitedly. The long intro to I Will Possess Your Heart shows the five-piece jamming, as they’d do in a recording studio, immersed in creating the perfect compositions. When Gibbard finally sings at the keyboard, his voice is as distinct as when he first started touring, with lead guitarist Dave Depper providing the backing vocals. Gibbard is aware that there’s a lot going on tonight, with England’s first World Cup match, and shows his appreciation for everyone’s attendance, giving live updates. Crooked Teeth (Plans, 2005) is the essential lyric-driven guitar rock that Death Cab are known for, while The Ghosts of Beverly Drive (Kintsugi, 2015) sounds quite lively. The band have enough material to offer fans, and don’t waste time by foraging into the older works as well as new material, like the first single, Gold Rush, from upcoming record Thank you for Today. The frontman knows how to maintain rapport with his fans, warning them of his sweat that might splash them, and that he couldn’t “promise if nothing else will”.
What Sarah Said shows the group’s lyrical sensitivity, as Gibbard sings “love is watching someone die, so who’s gonna watch you die?”, but they are adept at playing cheerier tunes too like We Laugh Indoors (The Photo Album, 2001), Cath – dedicated to Fear of Men – and The Sound Is Setting; the amp volume is too high during Expo 86, but the band swiftly recover.
The musicians leave the stage, only to return to fans whooping, playing another live debut from the new LP, I Dreamt We Spoke Again, the jangly guitars in the verse sounding the most Cure-like – Gibbard previously said how much Death Cab for Cutie admire Robert Smith. They finish off with You Are a Tourist, and Transatlanticism, and an avid fan can be seen beating his chest to the chorus of “I need you so much closer”.
The Death Cab for Cutie crowd sure are a passionate lot.
Photo: Guifre de Peray
For further information and future events visit Death Cab for Cutie’s website here.
Watch the video for Gold Rush here: