The Novembrist Revolution

The Decemberists at Terminal 5 – November 5, 2008

the_decemberistsIn addition to an excellent dinner and the sixth season of Scrubs, for my birthday, Alison got me two tickets to see the Decemberists. She said I could take anyone I wanted, so on Wednesday – giddy from Tuesday night’s election and tired from our post clinching trip up to Harlem – we and 3,000 of our closest friends headed to Terminal 5 to catch the Decemberists. I was in no way prepared for what a great performer Colin Meloy was going to be. He also gets an A+ from Rattle My Cage for stage banter. It was clever. It was funny. And if the music wasn’t so damned good I would have wanted more of it. As it stood thought he ratio was great. The show was heavy on classics, and exuberance about the election (a life sized cutout of Barack Obama made several prominent appearances), and oddball-ness (Meloy soloed on one song using a peacock feather).

Meloy began the night by noting that they had had to cancel their last scheduled appearance at Terminal 5 (a tour where they were doing two nights a city – one night for their short songs, one night for their long ones) and that they would try to put on a good show for us. It was a great one.

My notes reveal the following:

  1. I didn’t write down the song as I didn’t intend to take notes. Alison thinks it was “Shanty for the Arathusa”
  2. July, July!
  3. I also didn’t right this one down.
  4. Valerie Plame – an good riddance to the outgoing administration in the form of a love song of sorts to a re-imagined Valerie Plame
  5. As an odor of something burning permeated the stage Meloy and Jenny Conlee (accordion, mostly, and other keys) discussed that perhaps they shouldn’t have said anything as it was akin to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater as it was, in fact, shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Then Meloy worked the audience in a routine where we pointed to the stage and shouted “Fire!” in case we noticed the stage going up in flames while they were playing.
  6. O New England – A song about a break-up, as I took it, that occurred during a road trip through New England to NYC. Meloy prefaced the song by noting that it made it seem like he thought that New York City was part of New England (Audience: Booo!) but that he, in fact, knew that was not the case. Good new song.
  7. The Bachelor and the Bride – The Decemberists at their morbid best!
  8. The Engine Driver – Another classic done well.
  9. Meloy then made fun of the audience for something that I can’t remember. “Oh, you like it,” he said, “you love the abuse.” He went on something to the effect of “Oh, I’m just kidding. Not really. Well just sometimes. You love it. When you’ve been really naughty.”
  10. We Both Go Down Together – Wait! No. This is the Decemberists at their morbid best! This was really well done. It doesn’t hurt that I think it’s a very, very well written song.
  11. Record Year For Rainfall – Another new one, I think. It didn’t leave much of an impression. In fact, I didn’t think the new stuff had the hooks or traditional riffs that make most of the Decemberist’s material so good.
  12. Meloy discusses the possibility of giving the audience debate style response dials to give feed back on the between song chatter and decides against it.
  13. Oceanside – This one is either morbid or dirty or morbid and dirty or maybe morbidly dirty.
  14. My notes for this song read “prefect tgggg #2” whatever that means. All I know is the beat sounded a lot like “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Meloy then went on to have something of a Marty McFly guitar solo moment that involved the requisite floor writhing and the innovative and somewhat cacophonic use of peacock feather that I believe he got from someone in the audience. It was fun but I wasn’t sad to see the feather go.
  15. “Days of Lane”?
  16. O Valencia – Or, as Meloy put it, their “Latino gangland song”
  17. The Culling of the Fold – This was wear Meloy went from good performer to great performer and really turned it on. He got off the stage and was roaming through the audience. When he got back on stage he had someone’s cell phone with him and he sang into the cell phone as well as into the microphone. It was pretty awesome.
  18. The Chimbley Sweep – Meloy introduced this one by saying that Sarah Palin had been giving some interviews after the election because people really wanted some back story on her. He went on for this for a while and some guy from the second tier screamed “Just play the f***king music.” Meloy kept on for a bit and then when the first chords came out some girl from the third tier yelled “Sarah Palin was a Chimbley Sweep!” And so the song began.
  19. 16 by 32 – “Eighteen academy chairs out of which only seven really cares” hmmmm . . . . .
  20. The Mariner’s Revenge Song – The band came out to the front of the stage and stood in a line with John Moen (percussion) with what looked like a tom-tom slung to his side. I love this song. I love it. I drink it up. I freakin’ love it. It was a real treat to not only hear it but participate in it with a big adoring crowd and interacting with (or rather being conducted by) the band.


  1. Raincoat Song – Meloy on acoustic guitar with Nate Query (I think) on accompanying vocals.
  2. Eli, the Barrow Boy – Alison had been thinking, “Oh, well the only thing they skipped that I wanted was Eli the Barrow Boy” and then guess what happened?
  3. Sons and Daughters – I might think that every concert should end with a peace on Earth and end to wars song. Just an opinion.

One response to “The Novembrist Revolution

  1. I’m seeing them this afternoon. Thanks for sharing your experience :)


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