Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Decemberists and My Brightest Diamond

Yesterday I saw the Decemberists play at the first of the two Boston shows. Everything about it was excellent- the setlist, the sound, the crowd, the opener...consistent all around. My Brightest Diamond opened the show. Though she's not well known now (currently she's best known as being one of Sufjan's Illinoise! cheerleaders) I'm sure she'll get much bigger soon. Her voice is simply amazing, both in a traditional sense and for the bizzare yet sometimes oddly beautiful sounds that she would occasionally make with it. For example she could do this really well controlled vocal roll while still perfectly in key. The song that got the biggest response was one of her louder more rock oriented songs, "Freak Out." I felt the song live was much better and fuller sounding than it does on the album version, but it's still good on the record. The second song I'm posting here (well actually linking as Asthmatic Kitty is hosting) "Something of an End" is slower and more atmospheric. It's actually a really excellent song It's definitely the better all around song of the two even though live "Freak Out' was optimum for the environment of a sold-out venue barely able to restrain their excitement over seeing the Decemberists within minutes.

My Brightest Diamond - Freak Out

My Brightest Diamond - Something of an End

Onto the Decemberists! Their set began with intro music and a pre-record
ed message that instructed us all to look to the person to the left and right of us and greet them. Mostly everyone proceeded to do that and I feel it was one of the elements that helped make the crowd so well behaved (as in no pushing, cutting, etc.) Then again, maybe it's just that Decemberists fans are naturally well behaved. After the announcement the Decemberists took stage to immense applause. They began their set with "The Crane Wife 3" the first track from their most recent album. I really enjoy when shows begin with an acoustic track and gradually bring the rest of the band in (best exemplified with Stop Making Sense) and this was no exception.

Here's the full setlist:

The Crane Wife 3

July, July!
The Soldiering Life
The Infanta

The Bachelor And The Bride
Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)

The Culling Of The Fold
On The Bus Mall
The Legionnaire's Lament
O, Valencia!
The Island
When The War Came

Eli, The Barrow Boy
Panic (brief Smiths sing-along)
The Mariner's Revenge Song

I thought they did a fantastic job with varying the setlist so it's representative of their entire catalog. That said it worked out to be two from Cataways and Cutouts, two from Her Majesty the Decemberists, four from Picaresque, five from The Crane Wife and one b-side off of the O, Valencia! single. I really have no compaints, though at first I was a little upset when they started "When the War Came" as i'm not too fond of it's form on the album. However live it was excellent- they extended it a bit and it was an intense and cathartic way to finish off their pre-encore set. I heard it's the first time they've ever played it live, so it's very cool to be a part of that history. "Yankee Bayonet" was another highlight as Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond joined Colin onstage to do the female portion of the duet.

The highlight of the show for me was easily the final song of the encore "The Mariner's Revenge Song." The encore as a whole was perfect actually, as that and "Eli, the Barrow Boy" are two of my absolute favorites by the band. The Mariner's Revenge though...the performance of that I'd rank among my top 5 concert moments ever. The song itself is an epic 9 minute narrative about a man who swears to satisfy his mother's dying wish- to get revenge on a man who deceived and abandoned her, a single incident that ruined the rest of her life. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm pretty sure it's my top Decemberists track. Musically, lyrically... aaah! I love it!! It's a piece of genius. You could even say it's a whale of a tale (groan here.) But yeah, it's seriously awesome.

The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge Song

So with it live, we the audience needed to scream like we were being devoured by a whale during a specific part of the song. I was then surprised by what happened next...a giant whale appeared on stage! I managed to catch the whole scene on video:

Unbelievable. Additionally, here's a clip from the brief "Panic" sing-a-long. The story behind it is that the venue began to turn on the disco lights for the club that the venue turns into once the show finishes while the Decemberists were still playing. Thus the Moz was busted out:

After the show finished we hung around the venue for a few minutes. Surprisingly it was no longer than 10 minutes we had to wait until the Colin and Chris came out. Colin was incredibly could see that there was a push to get going, yet Colin insisted to stick around for a few minutes to say hi to the fans. I exchanged a few words with him, and got a picture with him as will as him to sign a Castaways and Cutouts LP I bought after the show. It was obvious that the C-Funkmaster had a few drinks after the show as the first thing he said to me when I walked over was something along the lines of : "hey man, i got a big bag of beer." It was pretty much amazing. I was giddy for hours on end. Hell, I'm still giddy from it. Here's the goods:

The Decemberists @ Kill Rock Stars
My Brightest Diamond @ Asthmatic Kitty