I have to say that I was mildly intrigued by the prospect of DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE playing with the LA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA when the show was announced. Death Cab have been a band that has begun a slow decent out of indie rock isolation to mass market appeal and in many ways this was the show that should seal that deal. The bowl is a landmark location and the use of a full orchestra is really something only reserved for big time acts. At the outset I thought that the band might not be up to the task. The crowd was very reserved (it being a Sunday night and all) and the fact that it's just four guys playing on a huge stage seemed to rattle the band at first. The opening three songs ("Marching Bands of Manhattan", "Your Heart Is An Empty Room" and "The New Year") set a nice pace and signaled that most of the night would be dedicated to their more recent material (a good choice given the stakes of the event). By the mid point the band found it's rhythm and the first real highlight of the night was a remarkable version of "Summer Skin" followed by the centerpiece of the show, the epic "I Will Possess Your Heart". After a couple of more songs it was time to bring on the strings.
"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" (performed solo by Ben Gibbard) was made all the more haunting with a twelve string accompaniment. "Grapevine Fires" benefited the most from the horn backings and the added tension that comes with orchestration. Only "Title and Registration" and "Soul Meets Body" felt like a misplaced marriage (the former due to a bad vocal mix where the lyrics got swallowed by the music and the later placed at the end of the evening for the fact that it is a hit single not a song needing strings). The ending opus "Transatlanticism" had just the right amount of build up (a better version than the album take) and was a perfect end to the show. The last song signaled that the band was in fact ready for the larger venues and will probably stay in this type of setting for a long time.
(mp3) Death Cab for Cutie -- Photobooth (a song that I have since really taken to since the show)