Yes, Jenny Lewis was there.
The Postal Service played their first show in nine years this Tuesday in Reno, NV. I was fortunate enough to be able to drive up to the Grand Sierra Resort’s Summit Pavilion to witness it. To sum it up: it was incredible.
I didn’t know what to expect from the live set. My predictions that they’d have to play all of “Give Up,” all of the b-sides, plus a cover to fill the time were right. Two new songs also showed up in the set, which are featured on the anniversary edition of the album. The songs were different enough to sound like the band had made some progress in their hiatus but retained that familiar sound The Postal Service has created.
The group surpassed performance expectations by perfectly blending digital tracks, triggers and keys with real guitars, drums, vibraphone and melodica. Each member played various instruments with great energy and sang with precision. The on-stage chemistry between Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis was endearing and you could clearly see how engaged the group was.
One of the most interesting aspect of the show was watching for who was playing what; when the group all descended to keyboards and trigger pads, breaking the various tracks of the song down into parts for individuals, trying to determine how they came to that arrangement is interesting on its own.
Another odd but welcomed detail was that the songs come off much heavier live than on record. The percussion, both digital and real, all sound huge and the guitars grew to a swell on some of the jams like “Natural Anthem.”
Getting to witness a group return after nine years of no performances and be this good is incredibly inspiring. The Postal Service put most of the live electronic groups that followed them to shame. I’m now convinced that groups who merely play their backing tracks with minor involvement aren’t just lazy-they aren’t as talented.
The Postal Service are playing throughout the summer in support of the 10 year anniversary of their sole album, “Give Up.” You can view future tour dates here.