The Decemberists came back to town last Friday and put on an AMAZING show. Those of you who know me are probably thinking that I was predisposed to think that, given my near-obsession with them, and that's true. But still. It was amazing!!! The show began with a darkened hall and a rousing Russian nationalist tune--perhaps in deference to the original Decembrists? In any event, it was a great way to start. I felt like I was listening to the overture at an opera.
As the band came onstage, another beautiful backdrop came down behind them, this time a night scene (I think it was depicting the same village as before) complete with full moon and butterflies. They started the set with The Crane Wife, Parts 1 & 2 and then went into Part 3. Although I love the way the album starts with Part 3 and goes straight into The Island, it was nice to hear the entire cycle in its original order. It seemed like from there they really followed the album for a while, playing The Island, Yankee Bayonet and O Valencia! (maybe not in that exact order, my memory fails me there). Later in the show came Shankill Butchers (with the stage appropriately bathed in blood-red light), The Perfect Crime No. 2 and the show closer When The War Came. In between there were old favorites like Leslie Ann Levine and unreleased gems like Cut 'Em Up, Boy (deemed "too violent" for the album, it featured Chris and Jenny pairing up on the keyboard while Colin put his theater major skills to work. He borrowed someone's cell phone to deliver the last verse that started with, "Listen up, boy..." and I'm still wondering if there was actually a person on the other end of the line.)
Near the end of the set Colin announced that it would be their last song, and the audience was treated to...the vocal stylings of Chris Funk! He launched into his falsetto rendition of The Outfield's Your Love and got the audience to sing along on the chorus: "I just wanna use your love tonight/I don't wanna lose your love tonight." A couple of people in front even whipped out their lighters. It was truly awesome. They ended with an extra-long version of When The War Came, but came out shortly after for an encore, of which the highlight was the crazy audience participation piece Mariners Revenge. I've never had so much fun pretending to be eaten by a whale. (If you're confused right now I recommend that you dash right out and pick up a copy of The Decemberists Handbook DVD from your local record store.)
In the middle of the set Colin took a moment to apologize for the show they gave in the fall, which they felt was "crappy" because he was so sick. Well, I loved that show even though he was sick--like I've said before, the whole beauty of seeing live music is that you never know what you'll get. You just have to go with an open mind and enjoy the moment. So I don't think they needed to apologize, but I wasn't complaining that they wanted to make up for it by playing an extra-long show. It was the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect night.