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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 17, 2012 at 8:42 AM

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Ben Gibbard brings back that old feeling at the Showbox

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Ben Gibbard; photos by me

"This song's about my favorite building in my favorite city," said Benjamin Gibbard, strumming the intro to "Teardrop Windows," talking about the Smith Tower and Seattle.

"And I'm never [expletive] leaving again."

Big cheers from the sold out Showbox at the Market.

More than fifteen years after Gibbard's sensitive band Death Cab for Cutie captivated Seattle and eventually became a worldwide force, the front-man moved home this year from an extended Los Angeles sojourn. Luckily for him he had a following before "going Hollywood." And Seattle perhaps more than other cities respects him as a musician, not a star, and part of the local scene. He serenaded the Showbox Friday night solo on acoustic guitar and piano, and the crowd was so quiet that he remarked he could hear the toilets flush.

Gibbard's song "You Remind Me of Home" took on a different meaning in the reverent room, feeling less like a sad postcard, more like a hug.

"Teardrop Windows" came from his new album, "Former Lives." But the songs that got the biggest responses were old ones by The Postal Service from 2003, his electronic-tinged side project. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" elicited serious screaming (and then immediate silence). Tweens in the front row heard "Such Great Heights" early in the set and visibly swooned. Everyone had their favorite. Mine was "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan." If Gibbard ever released another Postal Service record, he could have a hit on his hands.

Right now, though, he's in comfort mode, playing acoustic concerts, getting re-familiar with his home. The Showbox concert was part of a Seattle mini-tour, including benefits at the Smith Tower and Washington Hall.

He played Death Cab songs, too, including standouts "Cath" and "Soul Meets Body." And Gibbard told stories, thanking opener Damien Jurado several times, calling him a Seattle legend, saying he'd always remember when Death Cab played with Pedro the Lion and Jurado in Bellingham in the '90s. He said it was the first time he knew he was really part of something.

Returning to that special feeling was what the whole show was about.

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Damien Jurado


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