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The Postal Service - Comerica Theatre - 4/18/13

Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service performs at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.
Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service performs at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.
Photos by Melissa Fossum

The Postal Service's reunion is still fresh. The band played its first live show on April 9, the day the Give Up reissue was released in honor of The Postal Service's 10-year anniversary.

The reunion news was sudden and raised some questions. First and foremost, would the reunited Postal Service be any good? Since the Postal Service split, Ben Gibbard has been busy with Death Cab for Cutie, and Jenny Lewis has been wrapped up with her solo work. Would the duo have any chemistry? Dating a bandmate is always awkward.

The short answers: Yes, it was good and, no, it wasn't awkward.

Jenny Lewis of The Postal Service at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.
Jenny Lewis of The Postal Service at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.

In fact, Gibbard and Lewis' chemistry was key to the show. Whenever the multi-instrumentalists were playing guitars, they'd inch toward the middle of the stage and face each other for a playful moment. Their vocal harmonies sounded better than ever and the songs were performed with a youthful enthusiasm that belied their decade off. Perhaps it's because it's still early in the tour, but the novelty has not worn off: The reunited Postal Service managed just the right mix of newness and nostalgia.

Opening with "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," "We Will Become Silhouettes," and "Sleeping In," The Postal Service's set initially focused on slow, intimate songs. Things picked up a little bit for "Turn Around," one of the new songs included on the reissue.

The audience's anticipation continued to build and came to a head with "Clark Gable," as fans enthusiastically sang along to the director's orders.

Give Up has 10 songs, which would make for a pretty short setlist. The band played a few new songs, as well as a cover from "The greatest band to ever exist," according to Gibbard, who introduced Beat Happening's "Our Secret."

Another new song, "A Tattered Line of String," was more upbeat than The Postal Service's classic material, but it sounded good live and would have made a great transition to "Natural Anthem," the last song before the encore break. In between them sat "Such Great Heights," which started slow and quickly sped up, then returned to its usual speed as Gibbard began singing.

 

Jimmy Tamborello of The Postal Service at Comerica Theatre last night.
Jimmy Tamborello of The Postal Service at Comerica Theatre last night.

The encore comprised Dntel's "(This Is) the Dream of Evan and Chan" -- the song that's more or less responsible for The Postal Service's existence. Jimmy Tamborello invited Gibbard to record vocals for the song in 2001, and Give Up was released two years later.

The band closed out with "Brand New Colony," prompting the crowd to sing along with a capella repetitions of "everything will change" that sounded, by the end, a little like a drunken sing-along.

Gibbard ended their Coachella set by saying, "Maybe we'll see you again, maybe we won't," creating an air of mystery. This wasn't the case last night -- before "Natural Anthem" he came right out and said, "We'll see you again real soon." If the novelty of their reunion hasn't worn off by then, that will be a show worth watching.

Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.
Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard at Comerica Theatre Thursday night.

Setlist:

  • The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
  • We Will Become Silhouettes
  • Sleeping In
  • Turn Around
  • Nothing Better
  • Recycled Air
  • Be Still My Heart
  • Clark Gable
  • Our Secret (Beat Happening Cover)
  • This Place is a Prison
  • There's Never Enough Time
  • A Tattered Line of String
  • Such Great Heights
  • Natural Anthem

Encore: (This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (Dntel cover)
Brand New Colony

Critic's Notebook: Last Night: The Postal Service at Comerica Theatre. Personal Bias: Jenny Lewis first inspired me to dye my hair red. Overheard in the Crowd: "It's nice to see Ben Gibbard act like a frontman." Random Notebook Dump: Wow, does everybody play drums in this band?


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Comerica Theatre

400 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

602-514-2919

www.comericatheatre.com


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