The Decemberists – The Phoenix Concert Hall, Toronto Oct 13/05

Well I'll be honest with you: I wasn't really sure what to expect of a live Decemberists performance. They're one very talented group of artists, both lyrically and musically. But I must admit, I wasn't picturing a very lively show; I was expecting a calm, relaxing evening of Indie folk rock. Simply put, I was wrong!

The show started at 10:30, which seemed strange. But there was no opening band, the Decemberists promptly marched on stage amidst a cavalcade of soul-stirring stringed instruments and clashing cymbals. This was possibly the first concert I’ve been to where the band has entered the stage at the time promised! Let the record show that the Decemberists are a bunch of punctual people!

OK, so how was the show? It was lively, it was fun. The members of the band played passionately, Colin Meloy’s voice was pure, and carried well in the acoustics of the mid-sized venue. They interacted quite a bit with the audience, (even pulling an audience member on stage and handing him a guitar, though it was clear he’d never been handed one before…) which is something that always adds to the experience.

The band has a great sense of humour. The violin player was ‘forced’ to high-five the front row of the audience as punishment for telling a poor joke, while the rest of the band played sleazy lounge music in the background. The crowd was divided into 3 groups for the Mariner’s Revenge Song, one to scream, another to moan and groan, and the third to call out desperate exclamations as we were eaten alive by the whale. Then Chris Funk showed off the group’s creative special effects, by bringing onto the stage a giant [and very cheesy] cardboard whale, to chew to pieces all but the vengeful mariner. Oh what divine intelligence!

Anyhow, the evening was all in all a heck of a lot of fun. I was smiling, singing and swaying throughout the show, evening to the few songs I wasn’t familiar with. They played many of the great tracks off of Picaresque, but just as many from past albums. If you get the opportunity to see the Decemberists live, don’t pass it up!


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