Ben Gibbard admits some apprehension about Death Cab for Cutie's new tour — OK, a lot

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Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie are trying something different for a 2012 tour that kicked off Tuesday in Colorado, performing with the eight members of the Magik*Magik Orchestra — six violins and two cellos.

That’s the same group that appeared with Death Cab in its “Storytellers” episode on VH1, and helped add a deeper texture to last year’s Codes and Keys. Still, Magik*Magik — which has previously worked with Mike Patton, John Vanderslice, the Walkmen and the Dodos — have become the principal storyline for a tour that culminates with a homecoming show at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

The interesting part for concertgoers will be hearing some of the Death Cab’s back catalog, including favorites like “Soul Meets Body,” in this format. Gibbard admitted a little apprehension — OK, a lot — before the show was greeted by a sold-out crowd in Denver.

“It’s a little terrifying,” Gibbard tells HeyReverb. “There are so many variables. The entire show is a series of variables, for the first time in a long time. And that’s a good thing. The first handful of shows, at least from our end, will be like walking through quicksand.”

Codes and Keys, Death Cab’s first new album since the dark and stormy Narrow Stairs in 2008, debuted at No. 3 last year on the Billboard charts. A full listing of dates and venues is below, as is the setlist from Tuesday night’s performance. Beginning on April 27 at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, Youth Lagoon will open these shows.

Setlist, April 10, 2012, at Denver:
“Passenger Seat / Different Names for the Same Thing”
“A Movie Script Ending”
“Title and Registration”
“Grapevine Fires”
“Codes and Keys”
“No Joy in Mudville”
“Little Fury Bugs”
“Death of an Interior Decorator”
“You Are a Tourist”
“Bend to Squares”
“Army Corps of Architects”
“What Sarah Said”
“Soul Meets Body”
“Stay Young, Go Dancing”
“Steadier Footing”
“I Was a Kaleidoscope”
“I Will Follow You Into the Dark”
“Tiny Vessels”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Death Cab for Cutie. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – CODES AND KEYS (2011): At last, the return of that odd conundrum called Death Cab for Cutie, a band whose spit-take name can’t begin to hint at the deep musical complexities tucked away inside. Initial reports had the group, working now with producer Alan Moulder, shifting into more keyboard-driven fare — with front man Ben Gibbard reportedly even likening the new project to Brian Eno’s Another Green World. The results, while touched by electronica, didn’t stray from their core sound so much as build on it: From “You Are a Tourist,” which quickly shucks an initial melancholy in favor of a snappy beat and (even a bigger surprise, really) an insistently hopeful lyric; to the sunny popcraft of “Monday Morning” and “Underneath the Sycamore,” this was the sound of a band determined to grow with their history — not past it.

ONE TRACK MIND: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, “SUMMER SKIN” (2005): A remarkably intuitive song, full of very adult emotion and haunting insight, from a band with such a frankly ridiculous name. “Summer Skin,” in fact, might just be all the more powerful for the lowered expectations that come from a group actually called Death Cab for Cutie. The narrative begins as a series of summertime’s childhood delights are recalled through Ben Gibbard’s delicately constructed lyrics. But from those stimulating, if safe, environs — peeling sunburns, squeaky swings, tall grass and friendship — grows a complex realization about the passage of time, and the changing of hearts over that time. There is, by the track’s end, a sweetly recalled memory, one of timeless innocence, but also a mature melancholy. This is a story told from an adult vista. “Summer Skin” is keenly aware that seasons change. It’s a song about youth, but really it’s all about growing up.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – TRANSATLANTICISM (2003): There are moments when bands turn a corner, where everything becomes a bit more tightened up, stronger, more prominent. Transatlanticism was that album for Death Cab For Cutie. The corner this album turned for them took them from simply being an indie band to being something to contend with and watch. There were glimmers of this on their previous album, The Photo Booth, where bits of really thoughtful, meaningful guitar riffs would emerge from their signature chiming motifs — and where Ben Gibbard’s awkwardly insightful, heart-on-sleeves lyrics would land a significant punch without sounding overly, self-consciously melodramatic.

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10 Denver, CO Ellie Caulkins Opera House
11 Omaha, NE Music Hall
13 Louisville, KY Louisville Palace
14 Grand Rapids, MI Calvin College
15 Milwaukee, WI Riverside Theatre
16 Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
19 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
20 Montreal, QC Eglise St-Jean Baptiste
21 Boston, MA Wang Theatre
23 Providence, RI Veterans Memorial Auditorium
24 Buffalo, NY Kleinhans Music Hall
25 Upper Darby, PA Tower Theatre
27 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
30 North Bethesda, MD Strathmore
1 Knoxville, TN Tennessee Theatre
3 Dallas, TX McFarlin Auditorium
4 Austin, TX ACL Live
6 Mesa, AZ Mesa Arts Center
7 Los Angeles, CA Disney Hall
9 Oakland, CA Fox Theater (Seated)
11 Portland, CA Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
13 Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre
30 Barcelona, Spain San Miguel Primavera Sound 2012
7 Porto, Portugal Optimus Primavera Sound 2012

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