Into Music Reviews: The Decemberists at O2 Academy, Glasgow

The Decemberists: 5 November 2018 at O2 Academy, Glasgow

The Decemberists rolled into Glasgow to promote their most recent release, the excellent ‘I’ll be Your Girl’. Always a pleasure to spend time in the company of Colin Meloy and his talented band of troubadours. Tonight was no different as they made playing great songs look effortless and attempted to cover an extensive back catalogue while giving us six new songs. And at the end, we all got eaten by a whale.

There was a very laid back feel to the first part of the evening with a leaning towards the more acoustic/folk element of their repertoire, which threw up some rarities in the shape of a brilliant coupling of Shankhill Butchers and The Engine Driver. Meloy’s voice sounded fantastic throughout and occasionally reminded me of R.E.M’s Michael Stipe in his vocal delivery.

There was a definite shift in atmosphere and tempo when The Crane Wife 1 & 2 made a welcome appearance. Always a slight disappointment when Part 3 doesn’t get an airing but a small grumble. The Decemberists are definitely not a one man band though and On Queen’s Rebuke backing singer, Kelly Hogan, got a chance to show off her powerful voice. Jenny Conlee switches between keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel and also throws in some vocals for good measure. Chris Funk provides guitar along with some pedal steel and the band is completed by the rhythm section of Nate Query, who alternates between bass and double bass, and drummer John Moen. All contributing to a fun and enjoyable evening. There is a humour surrounding The Decemberists that just makes you smile. From Meloy, with his gentle teasing of the audience, to how the band interacts with each other, they look like they’re having fun and it spreads to the audience.

With four of the last six songs coming from the new album it highlighted how strong the new release is with main set closer Once In My Life probably the stand out, with the singalong of, We All Die Young, not far behind.

The two song encore had a real nautical feel with Rusalka, Rusalka/Wild Rushes recounting the story of a mermaid who seduces men only to trick them into drowning.

Then we all get eaten by a whale.

Okay, maybe not literally, but The Mariner’s Revenge involves some audience participation where we all have to scream ‘as if’ we’ve been eaten by a whale. Something of a Decemberists tradition and it’s now accompanied by an inflatable whale which floats through the audience before the band attempt to strike it with their instruments. A suitably amusing and chaotic end to a great show.

If you’ve never checked The Decemberists out then I can highly recommended them both on record and live. You won’t be disappointed.

Setlist

Don’t Carry It All / Sucker’s Prayer / Make You Better / Cutting Stone / Shankill Butchers / The Engine Driver / The Bagman’s Gambit / Calamity Song / The Crane Wife 1 & 2 / The Queen’s Rebuke / The Crossing/Severed / We All Die Young /O Valencia! / Once In My Life. Encore: Rusalka, Rusalka / Wild Rushes/The Mariner’s Revenge Song

Kevin Williamson

Links: Twitter || Website and tour dates

Once in My Life
Read Colin Meloy’s explanation of the video in the comments section on YouTube.

Make You Better

We All Die Young

The Mariners Revenge

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