Editor’s Note: The below review is by Cetoria Tomberlin and is the second of two reviews of The Decemberists at The Tabernacle (April 10 and 11) in Atlanta. To read the first review and see more photos, click here.
The Decemberists: Great Songs, Better Performances
The Decemberists played their second of two shows at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on Saturday, April 11. Doors opened at 8 p.m. and after a brief opening act by Alvvays, they took the stage close to 9 p.m. Their performance stretched almost two hours, not unexpected for a band with a large back catalog, including songs that tend to run well over the standard three minute mark, and left the crowd wanting more.
For the most part, The Decemberists played a large helping of new material from their latest album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, not surprising since their current tour is in promotion of the January 2015 release. However, fans of their less recent material were not disappointed either. Lead singer Colin Meloy was the first member on stage and began opening the show with the tongue-in-cheek “The Singer Addresses His Audience,” the first track on the new album. Joined shortly by the rest of the band, they followed that with “Cavalry Captain,” also off the new album. Next was the mainstream hit and fan adored “Down By the Water,” from their 2011 album The King is Dead. Then, the ever fun to sing along to “Calamity Song,” which proceeded “Grace Cathedral Hill.”
The band chose to switch back to newer material playing “Anti-Summersong,” which Meloy jokingly called a manifesto while introducing it, then “Make You Better,” followed by “The Wrong Year.” Changing the tone, the band decided to play the 12 plus minute ballad “The Island:/ Come & See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning.” The audience knew every word unlike Meloy, who drew a complete blank during the beginning. He played it off well, joking afterwards that forgetting the lyrics to his own songs is part of his charm.
Keeping with the humorous atmosphere, The Decemberists then gave the audience the ever sarcastic “Los Angeles, I’m Yours,” before the somber “Carolina Low.” Staying with the melancholy tone, next came the upbeat sounding, but lyrically haunting “The Rake’s Song,” during which Meloy directed audience clapping and afterwards said, “That’s an awful song, I don’t know why you’re cheering.” More audience participation was encouraged for the La de da de da chorus of “Sixteen Military Wives” after which they played the ever popular star-crossed lovers song “O Valencia!”
Meloy, like the rest of the band members, is a comfortable, well-seasoned performer. Understandably so considering The Decemberists have been around since the early noughties. Throughout the show he joked with the audience quipping that Saturday’s crowd was “decidedly more sober” and at one point calling harmonicas the scourge of bearded people.
Seeing a live show of The Decemberists can sometimes feel like watching a game of musical chairs considering the multiple instrument changes, but it all works beautifully for them. The band sound better live than on their records, no small task in and of itself, and completely refreshing when compared to many other popular acts of today.
Fittingly, the band closed with “A Beginning Song,” the last track of their latest release. A hopeful, uplifting tune. After being welcomed back with shouts and cheers, they played an encore of “12/17/12,” also off the new album. They then ended the night with a rousing performance of “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” during which Meloy coached the audience on when to “scream like you were being eaten by a giant whale” and included an oversized cardboard whale rushing the stage to devour the band. A fun time was had all.
The Decemberists continue their continue their North American tour throughout the spring and summer. Tour dates and tickets can be purchased at TheDecemberists.com.
Gallery: The Decemberists at The Tabernacle (April 11) – Photos by Tillman Cooper