Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Concert Review: The Postal Service in Columbus, Ohio

Anyone who became a fan of The Postal Service in the last 9 years pretty much had to accept the fact that they were never going to see them live. Ben Gibbard was busy with Death Cab For Cutie and his solo work, and Jimmy Tamborello was busy with Dntel, not to even mention sometimes-member Jenny Lewis's schedule. Interviews with Gibbard tended to squash any ideas of a reunion too. But this year, fans finally got what they wanted, and it seemed like the band didn't hate themselves too much for it.

The opener for Columbus was Advance Base, the work of Owen Ashworth from Chicago, Illinois. Advance base does not make bad music, it's just not particularly noteworthy. He managed to make almost everything sound fairly similar, including a Kris Kristofferson cover, and the only time I (and most of the crowd) got truly excited was when he began to play the intro to "Stairway to Heaven," which turned out to be only a tease, and the end of his set. The crowd was respectful at least, and Ashworth seemed able to communicate with them well.

Advance Base
The Postal Service took the stage at just after 9, opening with "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" and moving on to "We Will Become Silhouettes" and "Sleeping In," which featured Tamborello on vocals for the chorus. All three songs were performed amazingly with high energy.

They moved on to the weaker of the two songs released on the tenth anniversary edition of Give Up, "Turn Around." Despite the song being one of my least favorite Postal Service tracks, the live performance was incredibly well put-together. Jenny Lewis, whose presence and vocals had already been demanding a great deal of attention onstage, came forward to sing the Jen Wood vocal parts on "Nothing Better." The presence of Lewis onstage was incredible throughout the show. She has one of the most electrifying and (if I may say so) sexual stage presences I have ever seen.

Jenny Lewis
Next up was "Recycled Air" followed by two of my favorite Postal Service tracks, "Be Still My Heart" and "Clark Gable," both done impeccably.

They then did a cover of Beat Happening's "Our Secret," which blended well with their material. "This Place is a Prison" was slightly lower-energy than the rest of the set, simply because it's such a slow, sad song, but it worked out. A b-side, "There's Never Enough Time," came next, and then the incredible "A Tattered Line of String," another release from the reissue of Give Up. The crowd seemed pleasantly familiar with the newer song.

Jimmy Tamborello
Ben Gibbard. Photos by Erin Howard
The set closed with "Such Great Heights" and a very excellent live version of "Natural Anthem."

For the encore, the band played "(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan," a Dntel song that Gibbard sang on, which began the collaboration between Tamborello and Gibbard, and "Brand New Colony."

The Postal Service put on an amazing show, one of the best live shows I've seen in a while. Their live sound was far more solid than I had expected from an electronic band, and they performed each song almost flawlessly, the vocals harmonizing perfectly, particularly at the close of "Brand New Colony." As contagious as the energy was, so was the happiness that seemed to radiate from the band members onstage.

If you get a chance to check them out during the remainder of this tour, I highly recommend it.

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