2013PostalService_Press_AutumndeWilde200513 – ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER –

This year, electronic pop gods, The Postal Service celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their 2003 release Give Up, the band’s only album. Tonight’s gig at Manchester Academy is the first of only 3 UK gigs on this special tour to mark a decade’s hiatus from the much revered state-side duo.

The Postal Service are sole survivors on my once hefty musical bucket list. Having hot stepped it from an intimate gig in museum with Sam Duckworth from Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, I’m on cloud 9 with musical happiness and so giddy, I feel like I’ve eaten a bucket full of Skittles. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited since I saw Take That live with Robbie.

In 2001, then, budding pioneer of electronica music Jimmy Tamborello aka Dntel, invited musical genius Benjamin Gibbard, front man of alt band Death Cab for Cutie, to lend his vocals and lyrics to the track ‘(This is) The Dream of Evan And Chan’, for his debut album. Ben would later cite it as one of the best songs he’s ever written. This meeting of minds received critical acclaim. It was this praise that spurred the two to form The Postal Service.
Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame stepped up to supply the backing vocals on Give Up and joined the band live on a tour during 2003. With recording commitments on each side of the collaboration, The Postal Service never toured or released new material, ever again. That is, until this year.

Tamborello’s intricate, electronic compositions fuse twinges of 80’s synth and 90’s dance. This is balanced with Gibbard’s indie roots, his unique way with words and sublime vocal delivery. The Postal Service and Give Up remain firm, age-less favourites with fans across the world. It’s no wonder, tonight’s gig sold out as soon as the tickets went on sale in February.

The Academy is buzzing; the crowd have packed so far to the front, that it’s almost impossible for me to worm my way in to get a better view. At bang on 9 o clock, the lights go down and column upon column of colourful strip lights illuminate the backdrop to the stage. The Academy scrubs up well; it’s never looked so polished.

The venue erupts like I’ve never heard it before, as Gibbard strolls stage left, whilst Tamborello steps up to the alter at the back, behind two laptops. Tonight Ben and Jim are joined once again by Jenny Lewis and have enlisted Laura Burhenn from MynaBird and Bright Eyes along for the ride.

As the familiar start of Give Up’s opening track ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’, begins booming through the venue, once again the crowd go mental. This is 10 years of built up love and admiration spilling out from every single person in the building tonight.

‘We Will Become Silhouettes’, sees Gibbard ditch the guitar and jump behind the drum kit, with the audience mouthing to the sing-a-long friendly chorus, like a big out of tune choir. There’s very little banter, as tracks are finished and started in quick succession. Again the crowd vocalise every lyric to ‘Sleeping In’. As Tamborello steps up the catchy, dance-beats to finish the track, Gibbard looks like he’s practised some Bez-style moves especially for this adorning Manchester audience.

‘Nothing Better’, a break up song if there ever was one, inspired by Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’, is perfectly acted out by a charismatic Lewis, with Gibbard hanging on her every word as the as the jilted fella. He’s obviously been a bit of twat, as Lewis sweetly sings with a wry smile, “You’ve had your chance, so say goodbye”.

There’s the danger of losing the momentum of the gig when the toned down sounds of ‘This Place is Like A Prison’ kick in. But the red, piercing rays of bright red spotlights, combined with a twinkling scarlet backdrop, provide the perfect hypnotic accompaniment to the night’s only chilled, sombre number.

As the oh, so memorable beginning to ‘Such Great Heights’ begins, Gibbard, who’s said no more than 4 words in a row all night, declares that “This is a love song for you, for keeping you waiting all these years”. Clearly the band’s signature track, I’m hard pressed to see an audience member without their hands in the air or cheering. I’m sure the mass sing-a-long that ensues, is loud enough to be heard in Fallowfield.

‘Natural Anthem’’s epic 4minute, introduction is a no-holds barred showcase of fantastic lights and an intense battle of sound. It’s digital in the Tamborello corner vs Team guitar Gibbard in the other. Lewis holds her guitar up to her face, seemingly playing it with her teeth. It’s the perfect finishing track, and would have been wrongly placed anywhere else in the set.

The penetrating roar from the audience entices the band to return to the stage for the encore with ‘(This is) The Dream of Evan And Chan’, the track that kicked this whole thing off and much to the absolute adoration of over 2,000 people watching tonight.

There’s no introduction needed for the final song of this special evening; the crowd’s already guessed ‘Brand New Colony’ is the only track the band haven’t played from Give Up. Gibbard laps up the love and jumps down into the bouncer pit to sing to the crowd. He then entices a venue wide recital of the song’s chorus. “Everything will change”, reverberates far and wide, like a chant coming from the South Stand at Old Trafford.

It appears there’s a few in tonight who wouldn’t be out of place at a match. Dotted around me are some of the most obnoxious bell-ends I’ve come across during a gig; the type of Lads on Tour behaviour you’d expect at an Oasis concert, not the Postal Service. It’s like me, getting my arse out at the Last Night of The Proms.

It’s a slick and tight as fuck performance, although it feels a little rushed and slightly detached from the crowd at times. However, tonight, The Postal Service treat us to nearly every song they’ve ever recorded, including B-Sides and a sneaky cover version (Our Secret – ‘Beat Happening’).

Will I be stood in the same place in a decade’s time, knocking on 40, wearing a Marry Me Ben Gibbard t-shirt, listening to a 20th Anniversary re-hash of the same songs? I hate to say it, but I very much doubt it. I think after 2013, Gibbard, Tamborello and Lewis will think it’s the right time to finally Give Up.


Co-founder, Producer and Presenter of the weekly Silent Radio show. Part of the Silent family since 2010.Over 10 years experience of working with national, award-winning youth charities and in the creative industries. She’s the former Deputy Director of NOISEfestival.com, Europe’s leading promoter of emerging creative talent. Here she helped secure new creatives secure massive media exposure (BBC R1, 1Xtra…), showcases at mega impressive locations (Downing Street, V&A...) and kudos from the best in the business (Brian Eno, Boiler Room, Peter Saville…).She also flies the flag for women in the media as Director of Manchester’s independent music website Silent Radio and co-Founder, Exec Producer and Presenter of the Silent Radio show on MCR.Live; Further radio includes BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Manchester, plus the odd bit of TV Production Management with international broadcast credits (BBC, ZDF / Arte, Smithsonian…), she also dabbles with playing records to people and her first podcast is currently in pre-production.Bestest gigs: Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 | Micah P Hinson, Sheffield Lantern Theatre, ’12 | Dream Themes, Manchester Star & Garter, ’14 | Patrick Watson, Manchester Gorilla, ’15 | Less Than Jake, Nottingham Rock City, ‘01 | Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Deaf Institute, ’12 | The Decemberists, Manchester Academy, ‘11 | Passion Pit, Manchester Academy 2, ‘09 | Iron and Wine, The Ritz, Manchester, ‘08 | The Verve (with Beck), Wigan Haigh Hall, ‘98 | Take That, Manchester Eastlands Stadium, ‘11 |Worst gig: Fall Out Boy, Manchester Roadhouse ’05 (subject to change)