Gig Reviews

Foreign Correspondent: The Postal Service – Brixton Academy, London 20/05/2013

For ten years, The Postal Service’s cult classic Give Up has stood as one of the most iconic indie albums of recent years. Its release saw their brand of indie pop reach its highest point of success to date, opening up the gateway for many more musicians. Since 2003, however, near nothing has emerged from The Postal Service camp, until now.

Fresh off the success of their live return at America’s favourite Coachella Festival, the group have received a whirlwind of critical acclaim for their performances, and tonight acted only as further justification.

The line stretched around the block of London’s premier music venue Brixton Academy, as hipsters and nerds alike waited in eager anticipation to see if The Postal Service were like a good bottle of red, only getting better with age.

Support act, Stealing Sheep, graced the stage somewhat representing a trio of Luna Lovegood impersonators. Despite this, they powered through their 30 minute set, which consisted mainly of tribal drum rhythms and unorthodox electronic sounds. An approach, which grew more and more strenuous to listen to as time passed.

As they left, the crowd clapped politely waiting in anticipation for the return of one of the most celebrated indie groups of the past ten years.

London was the perfect setting for The Postal Service’s return, which saw them enter onstage to open the evening’s proceedings accompanied by a wonderful orchestral fanfare. Wasting no time at all, the group opened into The District Sleeps Alone Tonight. The tune was transformed from a relaxed and mellow arrangement to a lively one accompanied with a vivid lighting display that put most modern light-shows shame – consisting of multiple LED screens arranged to reflect a city, reminiscent of the band’s origins in Los Angeles.

As the quartet powered through tracks from their album it became strikingly clear that the Americans had struck gold. Forging together the perfect hybrid of their unique, prosaically captivating sound with the rare display of a completely compelling and captivating performance. From Recycled Air to Sleeping In the group failed to slowdown, building from strength to strength up until the final encore.

Yet the group were not restricted to their own material. Paying tribute to American indie outfit Beat Happening by performing Our Secret, hipsters finally found an excuse to smile, having previously spent their evening judging all those who evidently knew about the group after their album reached such levels of success.

However, it was the opening electronic glitch of Such Great Heights, which exhibited the crowd’s true emotions, a homogeneous mass of joy. As Benjamin Gibbard’s vocals filled the room, accompanied with the unmatchable beat-work of Jimmy Tamborello the reasoning behind their success became evermore apparent.

Yet only at the end of the performance, after the curfew had been broken and house lights turned on did the realisation set in. The performance that had just taken place was not only justification for their success, it was a rebirth. It was proof that after ten years, Give Up is still as relevant as it ever was – showcasing elements of our modern society, which many artists would deem too common to write about.

Maybe that’s the magic of The Postal Service, taking everyday events and hand crafting it into music that is applicable to all. This formula, in conjunction with their unmistakable indie pop sound proved to be one of the most exciting returns to live music we’ve seen in sometime. Ten years was too long, lets hope we don’t have to say goodbye to them anytime soon, they would be missed.

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