The Decemberists Debut New Tunes at Tour Opener

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The Decemberists' Colin Meloy / Photo by Sean O'Kane
WRITTEN BY
Joseph Coscarelli

Some people are just made for the spotlight. Americans elected one of these people to the Oval Office Tuesday night. Wednesday, 3,000 New Yorkers gathered to support another: Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy, who, along with his merry supporting cast, opened the Portland, OR, band's U.S. tour at Manhattan's Terminal 5 venue.

But before the night's star took the stage, Ritchie Young and his chamber pop group, known collectively as Loch Lomond, treated the crowd to a delightful warm-up heavy on tracks off their 2007 set Paper the Walls. Though decidedly less grand, Portland's Loch Lomond recalled Sufjan Stevens' noisemakers with each member providing a vital piece to a seamless collaboration. The well dressed seven-piece utilized maracas, violins, and even mouth clicks to build a pop orchestra beneath angelic harmonies.

Then, opening with the ominous "Shanty for the Arethusa," the Decemberists kicked off a marathon set replete with songs new and old. Promising an extra special show to celebrate America's "new dawn and new day," the band breezed through favorites like "July July," "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect," "O Valencia," and even Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

Piquing audience curiosity, though, were a selection of new tracks that harkened back to the band's folk beginnings (the songs are being released this month and next as a series called Always the Bridesmaid). The new tunes are decidedly less '70s prog-influenced than the group's last effort, The Crane Wife, including "Valerie Plame," a jubilant ditty about the CIA agent whose identity was leaked by a journalist, causing a full-scale Government investigation, which Meloy dedicated to "an administration that is going away."

The simple acoustic "O New England" told the tale of a rainy Boston-to-New York trip. Next, the dour, banjo-laced "Record Year" found a welcome reception in the three-story venue, as did "Day of Elaine," which lifted the mood with its piano-led melody.

Though the set was theatrical throughout, it was during "Culling of the Fold," performed with Meloy in the crowd and soft red lights beaming down, when the night truly peaked, leaving no doubt, as Meloy sang himself, that he was "born for the stage."

More photos after the jump! >>


The Decemberists / Photo by Sean O'Kane


The Decemberists / Photo by Sean O'Kane


The Decemberists / Photo by Sean O'Kane


The Decemberists / Photo by Sean O'Kane


Loch Lomond / Photo by Sean O'Kane


Loch Lomond / Photo by Sean O'Kane


Loch Lomond / Photo by Sean O'Kane

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