Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Decemberists | Metropolis | Montreal | Nov 5th

Playful and whimsical...yet catchy as hell. That's how I'd describe The Decemberists' live show. On metallic plastic discs, they are much more serious. More like a Russian playwright. In concert, however, they are more like Sonny & Cher with lots of shenanigans and banter.

A few weeks ago, I headed up to Montreal with the king, Bill Simmon of Candleblog and his wife, & DanZ, also of Candleblog, and his wife. It was quite the mini-bloggers convention.

After a false start due to someone forgetting the tickets (I'm not saying who but his name rhymes with Sill Bimmon), we got up to the city on the hill in time to grab some much-desired sushi at Bistro Isakaya. We missed the opening band but that was OK because it was much more entertaining to listen to DanZ hold court on whatever subject raced through his attention at the moment.

For those outside the area, DanZ has a weekly TV show on VCAM where he pontificates on various subjects and takes phone calls from irritated listeners. Then the sparing begins. Thankfully, he let me off easy and didn't drill me like his listeners. To give you an idea of what his shows are like, here's a clip from one.

So, we got to the theater with just enough time to grab a beer and make our way down to the floor. We were stuck towards the back of the room but the crowd wasn't as big as the crowd at Metropolis earlier this year for the Bell & Sebastian/New Pornographers show. The floor was just as packed as that earlier show but the entire balcony was closed which probably holds another 500-700 fans.

The Decemberists came out with a Japanese-themed back drop in accordance to the The Crane Wife. It looked like a classier version of the freakish back drop that Styx used during their Mr. Roboto tour. Yes, I saw the Mr. Roboto tour.

The biggest difference in their lineup since their show at Higher Ground two years ago was the absence of Petra Haden. I love her voice so I was disappointed to see she wasn't there. However, the lady who replaced her did a good job too and the overall sound from the back of the room was great. You could look at each instrument and hear it in the overall mix.

The show started out with a nice combination of tunes from all their albums. However, I then cursed it by mentioning the great set list to the king. From that moment on, I don't think they played anything except tunes from The Crane Wife. I like The Crane Wife but I also like a good mixture of songs throughout a show.

This is a clip from "Engine Driver":

They were also up to their usual hijinks. At one point, they had a dance contest going in the crowd and at another time they split the entire room down the middle to simulate two angry mobs during "16 Military Wives". The split floor actually left a wide path all the way from the back of the room to the stage. I joked about running straight up the path to the stage but I'm too much of a pussy to ever pull that off. Then during the encore, Colin Meloy grabbed a fan's cell phone from the crowd and called someone on it while singing and dancing to an unreleased tune called "Culling of the Fold". This is a clip of the tune before he took the cell phone from the crowd.

Finally, during the final song, Chris Funk and other members of the band came down onto the floor to organize the crowd into a reenactment of the battle for Montreal between the Indians, Huguenots and British. Meloy stayed up on stage and directed the action from up there. I caught a bit of it in this video.

One other nice part of the show was that it finished before 11pm. That makes the drive make much easier. The only problem was that one of us had misplaced his ticket from the coat check. I won't say who (but he also forgot the tickets!) but we love him anyway. We finally got on the road fifteen minutes later. No big deal.

Here's the weird thing about The Decemberists for me. I own all of their albums. Whenever I listen to those albums, I enjoy them. I've seen them twice and enjoyed both shows. If they came through the area again, I'd definitely go to the show. However, if someone asked me who my favorite bands were, I'd never even think of mentioning them. I have the same problem with Wilco. I don't know what it is. I like them but something stops me from becoming passionate about them. I know lots of people worship them. So, it something about me and not the band but I don't know what it is. It's just sort of strange how I feel about them.

1 comment:

kingdomforavoice said...

I really loved the sound of the 12 string acoustic guitar that Colin played on a couple of songs. That's a pretty random detail but man it sounded goooood.