Photo & Perspective: Magik*Magik Breathes New Life Into Death Cab's Songs and Fans at the Paramount


Photo & Perspective: Magik*Magik Breathes New Life Into Death Cab's Songs and Fans at the Paramount

  • Photo & Perspective: Magik*Magik Breathes New Life Into Death Cab's Songs and Fans at the Paramount

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    Laura Duffy
    Death Cab for Cutie -- featuring frontman Ben Gibbard -- played the Paramount on Sunday, May 13.
    This post is part of a series in which longtime Seattle music photographer Laura Duffy provides her thoughts on what it was like to be at and shoot shows.

    By Laura Duffy

    There's this contingent of my peers, late 20-somethings/early 30-somethings, who have a very deep-rooted and fervent connection to Death Cab for Cutie, especially in this town. We grew up with them, their records providing the soundtracks to our road trips and breakups. Every song has a specific time and place in our own lives attached to it. We are possessive of this band: we were there way back when, we're still here now. We've seen them so many times, in so many cities, on so many tours; they're ours. But we're proud of them, we are happy to share them with the moms and the kids, because we get it and because this band deserves success. We've seen them at tiny clubs and arenas, and we'll always get on social-media outlets afterward exclaiming "THOSE GUYS!"

    But last night at the Paramount was so different from what I've seen from them in the past. Having the incredible Magik*Magik Orchestra add a new layer of warmth and drama to these songs we've heard countless times, both recorded and live, breathed new life into the songs, the band, and the audience.

    Laura Duffy
    Death Cab's Chris Walla.
    The string accompaniment worked best in the newer material, but also filled out some of the older, less-arranged songs for the better. What a treat for us way-back fans to hear "Bend to Squares," a song rarely played live until this tour, with the string section it's meant to have. There was a refreshing energy onstage; there was more at stake with every song, and it seemed like a new challenge for them as musicians and probably more fun too.

    The set list was a good mix of material from their entire catalog, followed by an intimate-feeling encore acoustic set where they all stood clustered in the middle of the stage (something I always notice as a photographer is that bands are always very spread out across large stages, and it's tough to get them all in one shot unless you're clear across the room), that included "Steadier Footing" and a sickly sweet cover of "I'll Be Your Mirror."

    For possibly the first time in all my DCfC live history, I could actually hear every lyric and every harmony. It was like listening on headphones (minus the occasional "WOOOOO! I LOVE YOU!!!" and "THANK YOU!!!" screams during the sparse instrumental moments between vocals). I've heard them close more shows than I can count with the slow-burn of "Transatlanticism," but the pounding crescendo with added strings made me feel like I'd never heard it before, and maybe like I never want to hear it any other way again.

    This did not feel like a rock-band-with-an-orchestra cliche, it felt just right.

    Laura Duffy
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