Thursday, November 02, 2006

The R.E.M. Decemberists Ninjas - Live

The Decemberists - Live at the Calvin Theater, Northampton, MA 10-31-06
(If anyone has pictures from the show, please be a kind soul and share!)

What better night to see a concert than Halloween, and what better band to see on Halloween than the Decemberists?

Unfortunately, I arrived during the break between bands and missed the opening act Lavender Diamond because I was out trick-or-treating with my daughter, but I overheard several people comment on enjoying their performance. The stage was decorated with a Japanese mural background (available here on their website as wallpaper for your monitor) and large, appropriately colored orange paper lantern globes ornamenting the stage. As the break drew to a close, the lights went down, and six black clad ninjas, stealthily brandishing wooden swords, furtively took the stage. As they began the opening number, it became clear that these uber-assassins were in fact Colin Meloy and crew who had assumed the ninja garb in celebration of Halloween!

The performance was exquisite in every sense; the band was playful throughout the evening and clearly enjoyed itself, the instrumentation was sharp and clearly discernable, and the setlist was a pleasing mix of older tunes (The Legionnaire's Lament), newer tunes (Sons and Daughters), and crowd pleasers (16 Military Wives).

Upon returning for their encore, the band proceeded to conduct a costume contest (that Colin described as "poorly organized and grossly unfair") involving members of the audience, with the winners being allowed to accompany the band on stage for the remainder of the evening as well as earning some hokey prizes (a dreamcatcher, a fake plastic hunting knife, a back scratcher, etc...) Unfortunately Jesus didn't fare well, and first place went to a chimney sweep.

Following the "grossly unfair" costume contest, the band proceeded to play not one, not two, but three R.E.M. covers! (Begin the Begin, Cuyahoga, and Superman) Even though Colin coyly prefaced the song by saying they barely knew them and were going to try their best, the band easily pulled them off, even motivating the crowd in front of the stage to bounce up and down with Superman.

The Decemberists - The Legionnaire's Lament : Castaways And Cutouts

The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives : Picaresque

The Decemberists - Sons and Daughters : The Crane Wife

R.E.M. - Superman : Lifes Rich Pageant

For a great live recording of their show at the 9:30 Club in D.C. on 10/30/06, head over to Culture Bully
For a great recent interview with Colin Meloy, head over to Pitchfork.
Check out The Decemberist tourzine over at Filter Magazine.

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