Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Decemberists at the House of Blues San Diego

I have been waiting for this show ever since hearing The Decemberists new CD, "The King is Dead". The album seems geared to be a sing-a-long CD and there may be no better crowd to sing along than a Decemberists crowd.
After a wonderful weekend at the Se hotel, we grabbed a quick dinner at the House of Blues and then got in line. Although I would have loved to be in the middle of the masses of kids singing along to the music, I decided that a balcony seat would do just fine this time. The House of Blues in San Diego has a small but intimate upstairs and we ended up in the front row. Perfect seats. Mountain Man was the opening act; a triplet of women who sang, mainly a cappella. Their music was very traditional folk and they were a lot of fun to watch.

At 9PM The Decemberists hit the stage running. Opening with The Infanta and then three songs from their new CD, they made it clear that they would continue to rely on new material in concert; something they have always done. In all, they sang 6 songs from “The King is Dead”. The rest of the songs came mainly from Picaresque, with a scattering of other selections. Colin Meloy is a perfect front man for all of this, cracking jokes with the band, teasing the audience and guiding us through their dark songs. And the audience eat it up, singing along whether they were asked to or not. Joining The Decemberists on tour this year is Sara Watkins. Her singing and violin playing (not to mention a few songs on guitar) fit so nicely into the arrangements.
The highlight of the evening was the return of “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”, which hasn’t been on their set list much over the last couple of years. To hear an audience sing along to an eight plus minute song that doesn’t even really have a chorus is impressive. And to hear a San Diego crowd pull it off was nothing short of amazing. They closed the evening with a beautiful ballad, “June Hymn”, from the new CD. 2 hours after they hit the stage, the evening was over. It was a perfect ending to a perfect evening.

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