Everybody’s got their demons to bare, and you can’t help but feel that Death Cab For Cutie are graciously exorcising some of theirs tonight.
Notably absent from the set are the songs from latest release Codes and Keys that were blatantly penned about frontman Ben Gibbard’s relationship with recent divorcee, Hollywood starlet and indie songstress Zooey Deschanel.
In their place are tracks that demonstrate a true tour-de force of the band at their most glorious and consistent.
Opening with a mesmerising rendition of the sprawling and brooding I Will Possess Your Heart, Death Cab fill the room with heavy hanging tension before piercing it by blasting through the huge and life-affirming classic Crooked Teeth.
From then on, it’s a relief to find wall to wall brilliance as Death Cab deliver all killer, no filler.
Their set tonight is a perfectly crafted mix of hits and fan favourites in a cycle of suspense and release – and the band are on fine form.
Gibbard’s trademark manic foot-shuffle is more animated than I’ve seen in years, as he dives across the stage symbiotically to bassist Nick Harmer’s hypnotically fluid playing during a charged run-through of Long Division.
Other highlights include sombre and powerful performances of Lack of Colour and the beautiful Title and Registration, alongside almighty outings of pop-rock behemoth You Are A Tourist and the soaring Soul Meets Body.
The most enduring memory from this evening however, will be the truly epic We Looked Like Giants, culminating in an extended jam and furious drum-off between Gibbard and Jason McGerr. It was, as they say in Yorkshire, ‘ruddy cool.’
There isn’t a dry eye in the house as Leeds Academy erupts into song for I Will Follow You Into The Dark, and as the closing notes of the elegiac Transatlanticism fade out, all are left with the lasting impression that this is a band that matters.
Whether this is catharsis or not, the results are nothing short of awesome. Death Cab are back at their absolute best.
By Andrew Trendell