The Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
Indie powerhouse Ben Gibbard brought his magical air to the Neptune on Saturday night, flying solo for an intimate gathering that felt uniquely relaxed. As the front man for Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Gibbard’s resume and genuine talent is certainly envious. Even disbanded, his previous work continues to live and breathe greatness, having grown beyond man and sound to something deeper, of which ears and mind can’t seem to shake.
To a blue backdrop and red spotlights, Ben Gibbard sat bent over the keys of his piano, quietly beginning “Unobstructed Views.” The crowd was going wild and burying his first notes. Gibbard waited until the end of “Soul Meets Body” to speak to the crowd, thanking them for coming out. Following the next track, he took an awkward pause: “My name is Ben Gibbard. I’ve been looking forward to this show for a really long time. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this…” The idea seemed absurd, that somehow a semi low-key acoustic set was throwing him for a loop. Ever his own critic, he further stated after “Something Rattling” that “as [I’m] playing my show, I’m also reviewing my own show… I should’ve started on guitar and then went to piano… At least that’s what’s going through my mind.” Speaking for the entire audience, the show could’ve began with two spoons and a washboard and we still would’ve been super pumped.
Eric Anderson, singer of Seattle-based indie band Cataldo, joined Gibbard on stage for “Carolina,” with both playing acoustic guitars. As Anderson shuffled out, Gibbard chuckled, “I’m such a fan of that gentleman. Terrible human being, but…” For the encore, Gibbard pointed out that he hasn’t “played this song on piano in a long time,” before going into “Love’s Gonna Live Here.” Any rust on his hands was elusive at worst, because it sounded amazing. After singing about his favorite building here in Seattle for “Teardrop Windows,” Gibbard closed with “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” as the women in the audience visibly melted. Closing remarks? “Thank you. I really can’t express how much it means that you came out and watched my show. …there’s no Ice cream… I will most likely see you in the spring with Death Cab for Cutie.” We’ll be there with bells on, ice cream in hand.
Previously mentioned Eric Anderson opened the evening for Gibbard with a delightful sense of humor and an absolutely wonderful solo set. Normally surrounded by his Cataldo mates, Anderson ventured out with an acoustic guitar and a keyboard (in that order, Gibbard…), and what Anderson described as his “spirit guide,” a random item he keeps on stage to allay his jitters. In this case, it was a Daryl Hall and John Oates LP. Anderson’s delicate vocals weaved in and out of gray clouds, sad overtones that hung about his slow, careful, melodic picking. Something beautiful was being put together. With plenty of references to his darkness (“It’s calmed down tonight…”), and passively mentioning his lack of friends in Seattle, Anderson laced his set with awkward and endearing chatter that set him apart from most openers. Taken so, I purchased a copy of Cataldo’s latest album, Gilded Oldies, and haven’t looked back since. This is my current jam session. You can catch Eric Anderson at the Triple Door on December 6th for The Winter Round benefit show, or Cataldo at the Sunset Tavern on December 18th. I highly recommend making room on your calendar to go support them, you will not be disappointed.
Ben Gibbard Set List:
Unobstructed Views (DCfC)
Soul Meets Body (DCfC)
Title and Registration (DCfC)
Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke)
Blacking Out the Friction (DCfC)
Duncan, Where Have You Gone
Archie, Marry Me (Alvvays)
What Sarah Said
Carolina (w/ Eric Anderson)
It’s Never Too Late (Laggies soundtrack)
Grapevine Fires (DCfC)
Title Track (DCfC)
Such Great Heights (The Postal Service)
Love’s Gonna Live Here (Buck Owen’s)
I Will Follow You into the Dark (DCfC)
Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunny Martini