Even The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard knows how unlikely his band’s current success is.
“Let this be a lesson to all you musicians out there,” the singer/guitarist said, joking with the crowd Friday night, the first of two sold-out shows at the Barclays Center. “You make a record. You don’t do anything for 10 years. You end up playing at Barclays. It’s really simple.”
The craziest part of that story is that it’s essentially true. When The Postal Service released its first — and only — album, “Give Up,” in 2003, it was a side project for Gibbard, whose main band is Death Cab for Cutie, and synthesizer wizard Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel. The songs featured Tamborello’s spare, electronic backdrops for Gibbard’s stories about post-9/11, turn-of-the-millennium angst and relationships, both broken and flourishing.
There were modest expectations, but the songs struck a chord, and interest in The Postal Service grew virally on MySpace (remember that?!) before exploding when a large chunk of its song “Such Great Heights” was used on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Not only did the band land a platinum album out of it, but they somehow became the pop face for a new offshoot of electronic music that even turned Owl City’s “Fireflies” into a No. 1 hit.
The Postal Service’s current tour, which celebrates the 10th anniversary reissue of “Give Up,” shows how much has changed since the band’s debut. Nearly all the songs are flashier and fuller, thanks to the touring band that also includes the great Jenny Lewis on vocals and bass, and The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn on vocals and keyboards.
The once-claustrophobic “We Will Become Silhouettes” has become a dance-floor jam, especially when Gibbard heads behind the drum kit. At a point during “Turn Around,” all four are playing synthesizers, creating a massive wall of sweet sound to bring to life the lyrics’ pledge of support.
The biggest change, though, is in Gibbard, whose stage presence has been honed by nearly a decade of touring with Death Cab for Cutie. The songs’ initial uncertainty has been replaced by a confidence, which includes Gibbard’s rocking some adorkable dance moves, that shows fans of “Give Up” that everything actually did get better.
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 / 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 / Brand New Colony
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