15 July 2007

They Burned This Whole City Down

What a perfect Friday night: The Decemberists with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. At Chastain Park Amphitheater. On that rarest of July nights: low eighties, no humidity. A perfect setup for what proved to be a perfect show.

Pairing The Decemberists with the Atlanta Symphony was brilliant. Their songs work beautifully with an orchestra behind them, and tband seemed to get a kick out of playing with them. Plus, we got to hear the full “Tain,” which was amazing with the orchestra backing up the band! I walked out filled with joy and excitement; it was different, it was beautiful, it was fun.

The Decemberists performed a great mix, covering their entire catalog. Even though they didn’t perform any of my faves, the setlist was great.

Setlist: July 13, 2007

The Crane Wife 1 & 2
The Infanta
We Both Go Down Together
The Bagman's Gambit
Perfect Crime #2 *
L.A. I'm Yours
The Tain
Oh Valencia *
I Was Meant for the Stage

16 Military Wives *
The Mariner's Revenge Song *

*without the Atlanta Symphony

Several friends and acquaintances have chosen to skip past Decemberists shows — even their set at Bonnaroo — because they imagine a dour, boring stage presence.

They are so wrong.

The Decemberists have a helluva good time on stage. Colin’s banter is always entertaining — “We’d love to play your requests, but it’s hard to ask the symphony to jam in the key of E” — and he even jumped into the crowd to sample crackers at a front table (people often bring elaborate picnics to Chastain). He also sang happy birthday to a front-row patron celebrating his 94th birthday; the adorable chap later waltzed with a lovely woman all over the pit.

There’s always one song that sends the band into wonderfully delirious craziness, and Friday night’s “I Was Meant for the Stage” was our fun moment under the stars. Colin had his guitar on the ground, playing it with his mouth, his feet, and other body parts, while the rest of the gang ran around stage like little kids, banging and playing and making all sorts of wonderful noise. I always enjoy that part of their show.

It was surprising to see so many empty seats at the amphitheater, but The Decemberists have played here twice in the last ten months. The fans who stayed home missed a great show, and should hang heads and kick doors all week.

* * * * * *

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At 7/15/2007 09:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...and should hang heads and kick doors all week...."

As a former non violent house builder and having never heard of this band before, would it be okay if I hang doors but not kick heads instead?
I was at the Beatles concert in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1964(I was still in diapers) Oy! All that screaming!
May I still comment here?

At 7/15/2007 10:04:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Wish I'd been there (sounds like there was room). Mellowlee introduced me formally to The Decembrists a little while back and I really enjoy them now.

At 7/15/2007 11:44:00 PM, Blogger DJ Cayenne said...

I'm kicking myself.

I didn't get tickets, because I was going to be out of town. At the 11th hour my plans changed, but I assumed that there were no tickets left.


At 7/16/2007 12:45:00 AM, Anonymous glassmeow said...

Going to hear them next Sunday at Edgefield!

At 7/16/2007 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Sounds like a great show and a wonderful evening.

At 7/16/2007 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

And you've obviously seen the Decemberists perform before! My jealousy knows no bounds, as I love Colin Meloy with all my soul. Had I known about the empty seats, I would have moved heaven and earth to get there. Thanks to your fab review, I feel as though I was.

The video clips I have seen of Decemberists' shows always look like so much fun - with laser sword fights and such merriment.

Out of curiousity, which were the faves that they did not play. I notice they missed On the Bus Mall, the Chimbley Sweep, and Sons and Daughters, all of which I think should be required offerings.

At 7/16/2007 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Bubs said...

Man that sounds like a wonderful time! I know what you mean about not being eager to see them live--my eldest has gotten some of their music and played it for me, and I've liked it but just never really connected with it to the point I'd want to see them live.

THe Decembrists need to hire you as a publicist.

At 7/16/2007 04:47:00 PM, Anonymous gifted typist said...

You've just introduced me to them and I'm going to like them. Thank you...

At 7/16/2007 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

RHETORICALLY STERCULIAN: You may still comment here, thanks to your Beatles moment, but you're on probation. Listen to some Decemberists today!

DALE: You would have been in heaven! C'mon down next time.

DJ CAYENNE: Keep kicking. You've missed the last three shows, haven't you? But you made it to Sufjan and I didn't ...

GLASSMEOW: I thought I was going to be in Portland for the show, but my plans changed due to a wedding in DC. Have a fabulous time!

At 7/16/2007 04:54:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

TENACIOUS S: It was a great show. They're going to be in Chicago this week or next; grab Lulu and go while y'all still can.

BARBARA: Don't you just love him? I was hoping for "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect," or "Sons and Daughters," or "Yankee Bayonet," or 'Leslie Anne Levine" — but I was thrilled with the setlist.

BUBS: They're scheduled to play at the Gran Park Music Festival on Wednesday ...

GIFTED TYPIST: Excellent! I'm glad I could introduce you to some great music.

At 7/16/2007 07:38:00 PM, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

I don't want to sound petty, but I definitely envy you your concerts -- I love The Decemberists, but missed them the last time they were in town.

Still, glad you were there for what sounds like a great show.

At 7/16/2007 08:03:00 PM, Anonymous Glassmeow said...

What? You weren't going to say anything and just show up???

...that's a looong way to go for a show.

Ulterior motives?

At 7/17/2007 03:11:00 AM, Blogger lulu said...

There will be no grabbing of Lulu as she is frantically packing, in fact, tenS came over and emptied out my file cabinet for me today. That's really the only way I am seeing friends.

The show sounds great though, glad you enjoyed it.

At 7/17/2007 06:41:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

THIRD WORST POET: The Decemberists have several stops left on their summer tour; go see them if they play nearby.

GLASSMEOW: I was planning to visit a good friend in Portland, but instead I have a wedding in DC this weekend.

LULU: Oh, no; you've hit the frantic-packing stage! You should enlist everyone you can to help.

At 7/17/2007 05:07:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I think the Decemberists may be too smart for their own good. But I like them anyway.

At 7/17/2007 08:06:00 PM, Anonymous Mat Brewster said...

That sounds fantastic! I'm afraid I shant be seeing anybody anytime soon what with moving across the world and all.

Rockers with orchestras are always an interesting thing, sometimes great sometimes...not so much. Glad this one worked well

At 7/18/2007 04:21:00 AM, Blogger Tumuli said...

Missed it... But your review placed me somewhere in the crowd.

At 7/18/2007 06:46:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

GRANT MILLER: They're smart, but they're loose and silly and fun on stage.

MAT BREWSTER: I just read —China!!!! How cool is that? You'll have to read my page to keep up with the concerts you're missing.

TUMULI: There were plenty of extra seats; hope you enjoyed it.

At 7/18/2007 05:48:00 PM, Blogger New and Used Records said...

Oh my sounds just incredible. I saw the Decemberists (indoors) a couple summers back and they were just brilliant. The opposite of boring really. I can only imagine what that would be with a symphony. Unbelievable.

At 7/19/2007 07:03:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

They were incredible, New and Used. I believe they're headed back to the West Coast; if they're playing in your area, GO!

At 7/19/2007 09:29:00 PM, Anonymous glassmeow said...

Ah well...the wedding's more important! Maybe you'll meet someone without a big pickup truck and offensive bumper stickers? One can certainly hope! :)

Shoot me an e-mail if you DO get to Portland. Love to show you Cargo - just a few blocks away from the Powell's "Mothership".

At 7/20/2007 12:07:00 AM, Blogger jewgirl said...

what a fantastic show! awww, amazing. inspired. for the record, I would've dragged my fat jew ass out for the event. I'm just sayin'.

At 7/20/2007 04:35:00 PM, Blogger pezda said...

Evil Genius and I saw them in Maryland (near DC) the very next day. The setlist was very similar, but not exact. And yes, it was an awesome show.

At 7/22/2007 03:30:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

GLASSMEOW: Is Cargo the place that had that fab turquoise bracelet last summer?

JEWGIRL: I would have dragged your adorable jew ass out if you'd been in town, doll.

PEZDA: They're the best, aren't they?


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