Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bad Idea Show Review: Colin Meloy at Park West

photo via Spin

I've yet to see The Decemberists in person, but if I were to choose any band's fan base as "most likely to be reading before the concert," I can't think of any other followers who would even compete. So perhaps it should not have come as a surprise Monday night when I noticed four different people literally reading books while waiting for the opening act. When Colin Meloy took to the stage for a solo acoustic set, the books went away but storytime continued, with plenty of light-hearted stage banter to spare. Meloy introduced a new song as "based on star-crossed lovers, as is 90% of The Decemberists' catalog. But if it's good enough for Shakespeare..." He also repeatedly referred to Chicago as "Chi-town," but pronounced it similar to "Sh*t-town," delighting his inner 12-year-old repeatedly.

It's an interesting concept to take the bombast of Decemberists songs and strip them down to simply a singer and guitar. On "O Valencia," the acoustic version feels a bit lacking without any accents or harmonies. But on the flipside, the stark bare version of "Shankill Butchers" is chilling. It becomes the kind of thing that would keep kids up all night, repeatedly checking window locks.

But for the most part, the missing accompaniments throughout the songs simply allowed for audience participation, as when they delivered a vocal impression of the guitar solo during "The Perfect Crime #2," or gave a ghostly defiant background plea during "The Engine Driver" ["And if you don't love me let me go!"] By the time the show closed with the overly ambitious "The Mariners Revenge Song" all bets were off. It became a free for all consisting of high-pitched pleads from a scorned mother (mostly delivered by females in the crowd,) audience-wide swaying back and forth while mimicking a whale, and at one point, Meloy ordering everyone to the ground to symbolize the mother's death. It was like a wedding reception gone awry during "Shout," if "Shout" ended with a sea-faring womanizer being murdered. It was a beautiful mess.

Setlist (more or less):
Leslie Ann Levine
We Both Go Down Together
Come Hell [New Song]
The Perfect Crime #2
O Valencia + Dracula's Daughter
Apology Song
Kingdom of Spain
Cupid (with Laura Gibson) [Sam Cooke cover]
Shankill Butchers
Night/Rake [New Song]
A Cautionary Song

The Engine Driver
The Mariner's Revenge Song


monkey said...

is he still selling the Sam Cooke covers album/ep? I was interested to see how he covered one of my favorite artists.

Dirk Calloway said...

He was selling the Sam Cooke EP, although the merch table was packed and I didn't hang around to pick it up. He did a version of Cupid with Laura Gibson that was pretty respectable, and the EP version of that track is here.