The Decemberists at The Fox Oakland, 5/20/09

by Gordon Elgart on May 21, 2009

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists about to leap from his amplifier

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists about to leap from his amplifier

The Decemberists live in an exciting gray area between folk and rock, between pop and prog.  How they keep playing to bigger and bigger audiences continues to amaze me.  Perhaps it’s the indescribable that people like best?  They came to the Fox in Oakland last night on their tour for The Hazards of Love, promising to play that new album in its entirety and then follow it up with a set of fan favorites.

So the first set was a no nonsense, straight through performance of The Hazards of Love.  The band never stopped to talk or welcome the crowd; they just ripped into it.  The absolute highlight of the set was the vocal performace of Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond).  She gets so into it.  Winning the second prize for highlight of the set is Jenny Conlee on the Hammond.  She’s clearly in line to be the next Jon Lord.  I don’t have too much to say here.  If you’ve heard the album, you’ve heard this set.  It was a classic rock explosion.

The second set was a lot mellower, and since they didn’t just play an album, I’ll include the setlist below:

  1. Grace Cathedral Hill
  2. We Both Go Down Together
  3. Sleepless
  4. If I Could Only Win Your Love (Louvin Brothers cover) w/Becky Stark
  5. Yankee Bayonet w/Shara Worden
  6. Dracula’s Daughter (“The Worst Song I’ve Ever Written”)
  7. O Valencia!
  8. Crane Wife 3
  9. Sons and Daughters

And then there was a brief encore of “The Raincoat Song” and “A Cautionary Song.”  The performance of the latter also included a performance of the Decemberists Family Players telling the story of the Donner Party.  I don’t think this was a factually accurate retelling.

This was the 10th time I’ve seen The Decemberists, and it’s probably my least favorite setlist.  That said, it was still great.  During the second set, Colin Meloy was very talkative, and he seemed to be having lots of fun with the crowd.  This made the show a total joy, and that’s the reason people keep coming to see this band in greater numbers.  There’s a love of music and performance that shines through in everything they do.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rachel May 24, 2009 at 2:39 am

Very much enjoyed the show-when i see the decemberists, i feel as if i have been invited to a show especially for me and a few of my closest friends. i am ever an admirer of the band that has a clue as to what “showmanship” is…and i think the decemberists genuinely enjoy creating that experience at their performances.

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