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Review of Murder By Death at the Magic Stick Detroit – 12.29.17

Murder by Death

by David Gimpel

Few bands would make me want to race out of my house in the 4-degree weather to drive snow covered roads, just to see them play. However, Murder By Death is one of them, and their music seems to fit the cold weather perfectly.

If you’re unfamiliar with Murder By Death, they play a dark, almost gothic alternative-country, with a punk rock attitude. They use a wide array of instruments such as the mandolin, the occasional horns, and keyboards. However, what really sets this band apart from any of their peers is the Cello player, Sarah Balliet. Her presence is incredible, both on record and on stage. The very talented Dagan Thogerson holds the rhythms down on the drums.

Detroit was Murder By Death’s first stop on their winter tour, which will end with a 5-night residency in the haunted Stanley Hotel, in Colorado. Detroit holds a special place in their hearts, as it’s the hometown of front man Adam Turla. During the show, he mentioned the band rehearsed in his parent’s living room for the first time since they started over 15 years ago. He told us how his mom was making them dinner and she would applaud between each song.

The show was filled with stories about some songs, and reminiscing of shows past in the area. Murder By Death has a very committed, rabid fan base, and it’s no wonder why, they always deliver and seem so genuine. In fact, some of the best parts of the show came from when the band or the audience made mistakes. During the song, “Lost River,” they screwed up and Adam stopped the music to have them re-do it. Later, Adam forgot the words to one of the requested songs and had to be scrapped from the show.

Their set was filled with drunken sing-alongs of some of their most well-known songs from all seven albums. The band hasn’t lost their stride, with the new songs either with the epic “Big Dark Love,” the almost psychedelic “Strange Eyes,” and my personal favorite, the David Bowie inspired “I Shot an Arrow,” which has one of the best cello solos you’ll ever hear. The last song of the set was “Comin’ Home.” You’ve probably heard in several TV shows and movies, like Sons Of Anarchy and Inglorious Bastards.

I mentioned earlier the audience made mistakes. The band has a song called “Pizza Party (At Gloria Estfan’s House),” which they played earlier in the set. However, the band was disappointed in the audience participation, so they told us they would play it again later. During the encore, someone screamed “Pizza Party!” and the band obliged. If you were at the show, you are probably still singing to yourself, “Pizza Party — YEAH!”

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