The Decemberists in January
I’ve never really been one to let the weather stop me from going out, but even I had to wonder if I shouldn’t have just stayed indoors when I had to walk the two blocks from the crosstown bus-stop in the sleet and snow that dazzled Manhattan tonight, and came out looking like Frosty the Snowgirl. But no, it was indeed worth it.
To see The Decemberists on the evening of the day they found out they had the Number One album on the US pop album chart was just glorious. Frontman Colin Meloy took the news in stride, mentioning it briefly but moving right along. I suspect this kind of news is nice to hear but not the group’s reason d’etre – what with all their concept songs and intriguing subject matter.
The Beacon Theater is the perfect kind of venue to see the band, with its beautiful pillars and magnificent statues. The show began with a voicer-over from the Mayor of Portland, Oregon, Sam Adams, asking us to close our eyes and imagine we were on the Pacific Northwest. I barely know where that is, so I had a little trouble with this, but I imagined a lovely, balmy little spot. And then, he presented to us the band – the four-piece folk-rock group that hails from his city.
Meloy said that, because of the snow outside, they would be playing a “wintery mx” of songs, book-ended by two songs about summer. In between there were tracks from albums The Crane Wife, The Hazards of Love and the afore-mentioned best-selling The King is Dead. Each song was accompanied by a change in colour of the stage backdrop, which is also the cover of their latest album. They also roped in musicians from “The Decemberists Family ” like Shara Worden (who guests on The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid) and Sara Watkins – such captivating singers that I want to hear more of.
The evening was indeed a “wintery mix” of moving music, quirky story-telling and humorous banter . Oh, and a re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar. Sort of, kinda. Most importantly, it was a cure for the little fears and worries that have started to raise their voices, after almost two months of being here. Luckily Meloy’s voice is louder.