The Decemberists in Norfolk, VA

In somewhat of a stark contrast to Ben Folds last week, I took in the Decemberists on April Fools Day with my dad, a semi-recent convert to their unique brand of literary indie-folk. I'd seen them once before, back in the summer of '04 (pre Picaresque) at the fantastic Aladdin Theatre in SE Portland, Oregon. They were amazing then and they were even better Sunday night.

Playing to a sold out crowd of 2,000+ despite never having played within 2 hours of Norfolk, the 5-piece sounded as tight as a recording, if only their recordings went to 11. Unlike the Folds show, I didn't care as much that they only played songs from their last two albums because the songs they did play were great choices and the order flowed so well. Of the old stuff, they played "July, July" and "Here I Dreamt I was an Architect" from Castaways and Cutouts, and "The Soldiering Life" from Her Majesty, The Decemberists. That's it. No "Los Angeles, I'm Yours", no "Billy Liar", and certainly no "Red Right Ankle" were to be heard. However, this was made acceptable by stirring renditions of "When the War Came", "The Island, Come and See...", "Yankee Bayonet" (featuring Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond), "16 Military Wives", and fan-favorite "The Mariner's Revenge" to close out the evening. At the end of "When the War Came", Colin Meloy pulled a Jimmy Page and destroyed his electric guitar in a perfect storm of geek and rockstar. He swung it against the stage, splintering the headstock, then pulled off a string and stepped on the neck. I wish I could afford to do things like that. I'm sure he gets all the girls.

Oddly enough, the only part of the evening I didn't go nuts for was their first song of the encore, a Fleetwood Mac cover that I'm pretty sure 90% of the audience didn't even know. It was proven to be moot when the next (and last) song (Mariner's Revenge) urged the entire audience, including myself, to scream their guts out. The lights came up, the crowd smiled below me, and a cloud of satisfaction hung in the air like a fog of invisible nitrous oxide.

They didn't play my favorite song, so here it is. Close your eyes and we can both get transported somewhere between here and wherever you are. Neither far, nor near. Somewhere in between.

and finally this: another amazing song they didn't play.

After the Bombs [b-side from The Crane Wife|buy]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was good seeing you at the show. Keep up the good work! -rob

8:32 PM  

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