DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE with FRANZ FERDINAND and the CRIBS at Ricoh Coliseum, April 17. Tickets: $44.50 Attendance: 7,000. Rating: NN Rating: NN
I have to take sides with singer Alex Kapranos , who midway through Franz Ferdinand 's set venomously declared, "I bloody hate this room."
Ricoh Coliseum may be a promoter's profitable solution to a sold-out show (this one was originally booked at the Docks), but as a music venue it's pretty much a buzz kill. From the reverberating concrete walls that echo snare beats to obtrusive fire alarms (more on that later), it's clear the aging sports arena should exclusively house NHL farm teams and not a monsters-of-indie-rock superbill.
Remember, Kapranos and Ricoh are old foes. Last fall, Franz Ferdinand held court in the cavernous stadium for an uncomfortably small audience. Before this near-capacity crowd, though, the Glaswegians seemed to be in rollicking spirits regardless of Kapranos's flashbacks.
As soon as they leapt onto the stage and shook one another's hands, right-guitar man Nick McCarthy popped the seal on a surfy, rapid-fire riff opening the up-tempo body-mover This Boy. The ever-voguish Kapranos, with his mustard button-down tucked into tight trousers tucked into shiny boots, pranced and peacocked around a stage outfitted with illuminated catwalks that made it look like an old British TV variety show.
Perched between the catwalk's two arms, drummer Paul Thomson and his helicopter hi-hat beats lifted off hits like sex romper Do You Want To and rock-disco cocktail Take Me Out. But strangely, there were no takers on the centre ice dance floor, even as FF heel-stomped their way through This Fire to finish the set.
Roughly 30 minutes after Kapranos belted the lyrics "Burn this city," Ricoh's fire alarm tripped. Unfortunately for Death Cab for Cutie , that was smack in the middle of their fourth song. At first, it seemed as though guitarist Chris Walla was mucking with one of his many f/x pedals, but it was quickly clear that the irritating siren wail wasn't emanating from the stage.
You expect this sort of glitch to be resolved within minutes, but not at Ricoh. Perhaps custodial services had the night off, because it lasted almost 15 irksome minutes, forcing singer/ guitarist Ben Gibbard to plead helplessly into the mic for anyone to "Please shut this off."
Bravely, the affable Seattleites performed through the momentum-breaking disruption, persevering to play nimble and emotive pop numbers like Soul Meets Body from Plans and the crashing chords of disappointment anthem The New Year to a gleefully appreciative reception.
For the encore, Gibbard did a lone acoustic rendition of I Will Follow You Into The Dark to an incandescent sea of cellphone LCD screens. Leaving, he thanked his faithful, promising to return soon.
For the sake of Death Cab fans, let's hope it's anywhere but Ricoh.