The Decemberists at the Landmark Loews Theatre
Colin Meloy and his merry band of Decemberists kicked off their 34-city spring tour tonight in, of all places, Jersey City, and I was lucky enough to be there, right in the second row... and even more fortunate to be joined at such a lively love-fest of a concert by Debbie and her beautiful daughters.
First, let me just say that if you ever get a chance to see a band at this crazily ornate, seen-better-times old movie house, take it: it's right across the street from the Journal Square PATH station, the best seats were under $30, it's insanely cool in an almost-spooky run-down sort of way, the staff was super-friendly, and the sound system from where I was sitting was loud and sharp. Note: The Decemberists play here again Thursday, March 22, and there are probably still tickets available.
Second, let me also just say that The Crane Wife was in my Top-5 favorite CDs of 2006, and I've never seen them play live, so I was definitely predisposed to love this show. Which I totally did. Meloy was charming and chatty, the band energetic and tight, the audience with them all the way.
Anyway, here's the set list of the 90-minute show, with a few random thoughts:
The Crane Wife 1
Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond (the opening act) gamely tried to sing the female parts of this bittersweet, romantic song, but her voice was way too low to really pull it off.
"Cut 'Em Up Boy"
Is this a new song? Meloy didn't say, but did offer that it basically encourages murder.
On the Bus Mall
Perhaps my all-time favorite Decemberists song (after more than two years, it still gets onto my on-the-go mixes at least once a week), unfortunately marred by the too-loud levels of the electric guitar. Still gave me goosebumps, though.
This might have been the highlight of the entire concert... nearly 15 minutes of glorious, proggish, rocking out. The crowd was going nuts.
The Mariner's Revenge Song
A theatrical staging of this most theatrical tale, complete with a dance routine, propping, and audience participation. Almost ruined, however, by drummer John Moen's WAY overly-hammy goofiness.
The Legionnaire's Lament was in there somewhere, too, as was another song or two from their first two discs that I can't remember right now.
A "traditional song" with Meloy solo on acoustic guitar with lyrics that spoke of how every day feels like Sunday, so cold and grey. This was beautiful.
The Crane Wife 3
This is Debbie's favorite song, so I'm glad they played it, but, really? I was positive (and hoping) they were going to send us home with Sons and Daughters, one of the greatest album-ending songs of all time.