Monday, Aug. 22, 2011 | 3:40 a.m.
Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
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Death Cab for Cutie kept introducing themselves Saturday night. After opening their 2-hour concert with the syncopated “I Will Possess Your Heart” -- Nick Harmer’s bass riff building and building, charging up the crowd as it gained momentum -- frontman Benjamin Gibbard told the audience, “We’re Death Cab for Cutie.”
Yes, you are. And everyone who jammed the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool to hear them knew it. But Gibbard said it as if they didn’t, and as if he didn’t have a No. 1 album and multiple Grammy nominations and a fan base that, if Saturday night is any indication, can sing along to almost their entire catalog.
It was a memorable mix, the music and setting -- the open-air venue, three stories above Las Vegas Boulevard, the Cosmopolitan’s marquee and CityCenter looming behind the band, and Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas towering opposite the stage.
Still, it took some time for the band to warm to their surroundings. As they took the stage, Gibbard said, “This is a first,” referring to the poolside concert. Then later: “This is kind of fun and weird playing at a pool.” And, finally, after an hour or so, “I love the view and everything.”
But the band didn’t spend a lot of time talking, instead they tore through a 20-song set of their brand of indie rock -- introspective lyrics set to music that ranges from slamming chords to spare, echoing guitars and piano.
After opening with “I Will Possess Your Heart”, the band played “Crooked Teeth,” “We Laugh Indoors,” “Photobooth,” “Doors Unlocked and Open,” “Long Division,” “Grapevine Fires,” “Codes and Keys,” “What Sarah Said” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.”
Before playing the Las Vegas-themed “Little Bribes,” Gibbard told the crowd that the song was “an instruction manual on what not to do in this town.” That was followed by “You Are a Tourist,” “The New Year,” “President of What?” “Soul Meets Body,” “Portable Television,” “A Movie Script Ending” and “Cath ... .”
The band then played “We Looked Like Giants.” For that song, Gibbard momentarily put aside his guitar and sat down behind a hastily erected drum kit facing the band’s drummer Jason McGerr. The two dueled throughout a long instrumental section.
The band ended their set with a ripping version of “The Sound of Settling,” but not before Gibbard introduced the band for the second or third time: “We’re Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle.”
They returned for a four-song encore: “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” “Title Track,” “March Bands of Manhattan” and -- preceded by yet another band introduction -- they ended with “Transatlanticism.”