Sweet on a Green-Eyed Girl

Off to Brizzle the other night for only my second decent-sized gig of the year – the Decemberists at the Academy.

I’ve had a bit of an on-off thing for Colin Melloy in the last few years. When I first discovered Picaresque and Castaways & Cutouts, a while back, I was mad for his idiosyncratic ballads and stories, but I really didn’t much like last year’s Hazards of Love journey into “big” sounds…The King is Dead is a great record, though and a return to what I reckon are his lo-fi strengths

Support band were Blind Pilot, who were pretty good and I think I’ll post on them later, worth a mention of their own. The Decemberists, though, were terrific, really terrific; ploughing through a striking set of what is by now a really strong body of songwriting.

I’d not actually given much thought to the rest of the band, but they were really impressive, from the accordion and organ flourishes of Jenny Conlee to the intelligent string contributions of guitarist Chris Funk (Wikipedia, btw, has him down as a player of “ guitar, pedal steel, piano, violin, dobro, hurdy gurdy, mandolin, saxophone, the theremin” – wow!). I really liked his pedal steel work and zinging Byrds-y guitar. The whole band were really tight.

I’d imagined the set would be dominated by Hazards of Love and King is Dead, but in fact there was more than a smattering of older songs (sounding like they could have come straight off King is Dead). It was particularly gratifying to hear one of my favourites, Grace Cathedral Hill, still in the set list. A beautiful, beautiful song.

The set lasted over two hours, though I have to say most of the last half hour or so was kinda thrown away on a growing need to “engage” with the audience. I’m not a great fan of the call and response sing-along trend in concerts these days, – I generally go along with it – but a ten-minute “joke” blues number was a bit wearing, and the vaudeville stuff did get a bit tiresome after a while. I’m probably being a little churlish…

I made some recordings of the evening, which are … Ok, although I think my aging iRiver is moving into its dotage, and they’re a little trebly. I’ve uploaded some of the high points of the evening, and a zipped file of all sixteen tracks – I’m afraid Mariner’s Revenge Song and Chimbley Sweep fell foul of the general buffoonery of the last half hour. Fun to be there, but not a great listen…

None of that should detract from what was a belting evening – outstanding songs, outstanding performances, outstanding performers…

Grace Cathedral Hill

July July

This is Why We Fight

Rise to Me

The Decemberists, Bristol Academy, March ‘11

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jonathan
    Mar 12, 2011 @ 12:06:11

    Thanks for posting this. Much appreciated. Any chance of getting the set list in order?


    • partlyporpoise
      Mar 20, 2011 @ 12:17:22

      Of course, sorry for the delay – I didn’t notice your comment coming up:

      July, July
      Calamity Song
      Rocks in the Box
      Rise to Me
      We Both Go Down Together
      This Sporting Life
      Grace Cathedral Hill
      Won’t Want for Love
      The Crane Wife 3
      The Rake’s Song
      Don’t Carry It All
      Down by the Water
      This is Why We Fight
      Sixteen Military Wives
      Mariner’s Revenge Song
      Chimbley Sweep
      Red Right Ankle
      June Hymn


  2. Trackback: Seven Great Gigs of 2011 « Partly Porpoise

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