LIVE REVIEW: The Postal Service at Academy, Manchester, 18/05/13

postal service manchester academy


Written for DIY

Funny how things turn out. An electronica whizzkid and an indie rock savant make fun pop music as a little side project, and it becomes one of the biggest albums (within certain circles) of recent times. Then, ten years after the fact, they decide to actually tour the thing.

One of the most awkward things about gigs is when a band wheel out material from the new record they’re touring in support of – people don’t want to see that. Sometimes they’ve not even heard the record. They want the hits! So when a band with only one album – which people have had plenty of time to acquaint themselves with – play live, it’s kind of magical: tonight, everybody sings along to every word, excepting a surprising Beat Happening cover mid-set.

The overwhelming crowd reaction to every track from ‘Give Up’, from start to finish, is a perfect moment in a night full of them. Some of those other moments include: Ben Gibbard’s dancing (the guy looks like he’s having the time of his life, sashaying his hips and awkwardly swinging his arms, dad-disco style); the ‘echo’ of Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds after every line of ‘Clark Gable’; Gibbard and Lewis’ brilliant, vaudeville fight-dance during ‘Nothing Better’; and the frontman taking to the drums for the end of set opener ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’.

For an album that was recorded by two guys sending each other stuff through the post, recorded on computers, this is an incredible live show: Tamborello behind his laptop, but providing backing vocals throughout; harmonies, vibraphone, guitars and more provided by Lewis and Burhenn; and then Gibbard himself running all across a stage set up stuffed with the sort of light show you’d expect from Daft Punk’s next tour. The songs, aged well, are spine-tingling in their performance. It’s like watching the resurrection of a lost loved one, and they know some really good tunes, performed perfectly with nice new bits.

The only down note, in fact, is one of the few on ‘Give Up’: the dirge-like, sluggish ‘This Place Is A Prison’. At the end, however, it grows into possibly the most thrilling song of the night: Gibbard gets behind the drums again for the outro, belting out the refrain “What does it take / How long must I wait?” Well, ten years, apparently. And then it turns out to be one of the best gigs of the decade. Funny how things turn out.


One Response to “LIVE REVIEW: The Postal Service at Academy, Manchester, 18/05/13”
  1. Alan hobo Stewart Poet/Songwriter says:

    I don’t agree about bands playing only established songs. Yes audiences pay the ticket price to hear favourite songs, but should also expect to hear new material. I have actually bought albums based on new material in a set. Why should I risk buying something I haven’t heard (although I often do). I’d rather trust my ears than some journalists opinion. I remember a certain U2 album getting a 2 star review on release in Q Magazine, strangely enough by Christmas it was their album of the year? That’s how good music critics are!
    If you want hits only stick with tribute bands and Best Of Compilations (never the best songs anyway).

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