Live Zone

Death Cab for Cutie /Slow Pulp, Rock City, Nottingham, 18th March 2023



US four-piece indie rock outfit Slow Pulp kicked off early at 7pm, when the room was about three quarters full. Offering up a decent set of mainly mellow vibes that become more rambunctious towards the end of each song, adding heavier guitars and drums.

After their fourth song, lead singer and guitarist Emily Massey tells the crowd not only is this their first show in Nottingham, but it is their debut in the UK.

Emily, Alex Leeds on bass and vocals, Teddy Mathews on drums and Henry Stoehr on guitar, received a warm welcome and appreciative applause from the respectful audience.

Slow Pulp’s Emily Massey

At the end of song # five, Emily mentions they are from Wisconsin (now based in Chicago) and asks the crowd if there’s anyone who likes the place, which prompts a random guy to shout out the name of the Badgers, Wisconsin’s football team and the name of the athletics team for the state University.

They played songs from their 2020 debut album “Moveys” and from earlier EPs. The unexpected harmonica solo at the end of Slow Pulp’s final song seemed to go down well, and then they were gone. After opening on 12 dates with DCfC in Europe and then these nine UK shows, they go back to the US to open for Pixies.

Death Cab for Cutie

By 8pm the venue was rammed, sold out at full 2,000 capacity for this first night of the UK leg of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Asphalt Meadows Tour, “which closes with two London shows: The Roundhouse and The Royal Albert Hall.

It is 26 years since Death Cab for Cutie (stylised lower case ‘f’) formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997, and thy are currently promoting latest album “Asphalt Meadows”- their 10th album – which came out last September and is produced by John Congleton. They have recently dropped a very well received acoustic version.

The band – currently composed of Ben Gibbard, Nick Harmer on bass, Dave Depper on guitar and keyboards, Zac Rae on keyboards, and Jason McGerr on drums – was originally a solo project by Ben Gibbard, who expanded the project into a group after landing a record deal.

They released their debut album, “Something About Airplanes”, in 1998. Their major label debut for Atlantic Records, 2005’s “Plans”, went platinum.

Dave Depper

Tonight, the five-piece have a very minimalistic stage set up – no backdrop or fancy lighting. No pyro. No bells or whistles. The music is the focus and the fans seem very happy with that.

The band’s main man Ben should be wearing a ‘Fitbit’ with the amount of dashing about the stage he does in their two hour set (full set list can be seen below).

It is a solid 23 song set – including eight of the 11 tracks from the current album – and the fans are letting it all soak in, and not much movement from them. At the end of song # 6, “Here To Forever”, the band go silent and the crowd sings along with Ben.  

Song # 10 of the set, “Crooked Teeth”, is the trigger for 2,000 fans to bounce energetically and become loudly audible. After “Crooked Teeth”, Ben reminisces about the time the band played at the much smaller Nottingham venue The Rescue Rooms (circa 400 capacity, celebrating its 20th anniversary now), and he admits he and his band mates are very nostalgic people.

The band leave the stage, leaving Ben who picks up his acoustic guitar for “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, accompanied by the ensemble backing vocals of 2,000 fans.

Ben’s four pals rejoin him on stage for “I Will Possess Your Heart”, arranged as an instrumental for the first five minutes or so, growing in intensity. Ben on the piano at the back of stage and adding vocals later.

He is back on acoustic guitar for “Your Heart Is an Empty Room”. Next up, “We Looked Like Giants” is a marathon length tonight.

The fans are back involved on the penultimate track, “The Sound Of Settling”, then “Foxglove Through The Clearcut” closes the set, before the four-song encore section.

Ben plays acoustic guitar for the first three, “Brothers On A Hotel Bed”, “Pepper” and fan favourite “Soul Meets Body”, which prompts another mass sing-along.

Nick Harmer
The final song of the night, “Transatlanticism”, is the title cut of their 2003 fourth album which broke into the mainstream. It sees Ben back on the piano, and then donning an electric guitar towards the end.

FACTOID: Overhearing a few in tonight asking their partner/friend: “Where did this band get their name from?”. The answer: Death Cab for Cutie comes from the Vivian Stanshall/Neil Innes song “Death Cab for Cutie”, by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on their 1967 debut album “Gorilla”.

They performed it on The Beatles’ 1967 film “Magical Mystery Tour”. The title was from a story in a pulp fiction crime magazine that Neil Innes found at a street market. So now you know!!

  • After a superb first night in Nottingham, the tour rolls on to Dublin tonight (Sunday 19th March), and then to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton, London’s Roundhouse and the final night of the UK shows at the legendary Royal Albert Hall.


Nottingham set list

  1. I Don’t Know How I Survive
  2. Roman Candles
  3. The New Year
  4. Cath…
  5. A Movie Script Ending
  6. Here to Forever
  7. Black Sun
  8. Northern Lights
  9. I Miss Strangers
  10. Crooked Teeth
  11. Rand McNally
  12. I Will Follow You Into the Dark
  13. I Will Possess Your Heart

    Ben Gibbard
  14. Your Heart Is an Empty Room
  15. Asphalt Meadows
  16. The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
  17. We Looked Like Giants
  18. The Sound of Settling
  19. Foxglove Through the Clearcut


  20. Brothers On A Hotel Bed
  21. Pepper
  22. Soul Meets Body
  23. Transatlanticism


Live photos x 5: Andrea Bottino

Words: Les Howard




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