The Decemberists are the little band who arguably reworked town of Portland, Oregon from a groovy rock hub to the globally recognised house of facial hair and acoustic guitars. Their love of lyrically wealthy and history-indebted folk-rock propelled them from outsiders to the highest of america album charts in 2011. A yr later, they affirmed their popular culture standing by means of showing in an episode of the Simpsons as Springfield Fundamental’s new song academics. “Who desires to be told a music about press gangs and infanticide?” deadpan singer Colin Meloy requested of a nonplussed elegance.
Now again in London, Meloy is busy caution the kids within the crowd – and their folks – of an onslaught of upcoming swearwords in Ben Franklin’s Tune, however provides: “You’ll get a super historical past lesson.” Thus far, so Portlandia. However the Decemberists are converting. Because the 2015 free up of What a Horrible Global, What a Gorgeous Global, the band had been quietly shearing away their trademark storytelling in favour of direct appeals from the center. Their newest album, I’ll Be Your Lady, is galvanised now not by means of mandolin however steely synths and Peter Hook basslines.
Even if this new means makes up nearly part the 17-strong set checklist, the band skilfully sift via their again catalogue. The lofty musical theatre of The Queen’s Rebuke, sung artfully by means of backing Kelly Hogan, plunges into fuzzy, grimy guitars for Severed; the textbook, wordy O Valencia! plateaus to the remoted plea and hovering, cathartic pop of As soon as in My Lifestyles, a spotlight.
The band are impressively responsive to each other regardless of Meloy’s admission that they’re jet-lagged. “However we’ve been right here 4 days, it’s now not an excuse,” he admits. Drummer John Moen’s passionate taking part in is watched with awe by means of Meloy, who’s similarly beneficent to multi-instrumentalist Jenny Conlee as she swaps between accordion, keyboards and synths. The singer himself helps to keep a gentle hand on a boisterous crowd. He chides the entrance row for taking a look on the set checklist pinned to the ground at his toes and now not being receptive sufficient to the inclusion of “a mining music”, Rox within the Field.
Meloy additionally takes nice pains to provide an explanation for the idea that of target market participation. Even if the times of Decemberists presentations that includes target market requests drawn from a bingo cage and band individuals collaborating in fictitious battles are over, crowd involvement nonetheless performs a very powerful section of their gigs, from the call-and-response chorus of skewed nursery rhyme We All Die Younger to the shrill scream elicited to rouse the sensation of being eaten by means of a whale all the way through The Mariner’s Revenge, which options bass participant Nate Question the use of his cello as a faux paddle and an inflatable beast being handed during the target market.
Meloy, too, has his personal impish amusing. All through a segue from O Valencia! into Dracula’s Daughter, the singer digresses into an anti-Trump diatribe. “He’s gonna get thrown in prison, he’s gonna rot in prison,” he sings gleefully. The self-professed Morrissey fan makes use of the distance all the way through the vaulting chords of As soon as in My Lifestyles to indulge within the phrases of his hero and sings an excerpt from the Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Need. Judging by means of the clamorous reaction for the Decemberists’ mix of outdated favourites and new imaginative and prescient, Meloy’s prayer would possibly simply had been heard.
• This overview has been amended to proper the titles of Ben Franklin’s Tune and We All Die Younger