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MUSIC/ The Decemberists rocked the house at Hollywood Palladium

I was among the hundreds of people who enjoyed the opening night of the new Decemberists tour at the Hollywood Palladium. An incredible performance of the Portland band playing in its full length their last work “Hazards of Love”.


I was among the hundreds of people who enjoyed the opening night of the new Decemberists tour at the Hollywood Palladium on May 19th. The show was an unusual one for Colin Meloy and his band mates since they put on stage in its full length their last work “The Hazards of Love”. The album it’s an intriguing “rock- opera” really different from everything the band has previously produced and it’s a brave attempt to move from the comfortable and well know musical context the Decemberists got us used to.

I have to say that the Portland band did a fantastic job on presenting the whole “Hazards of Love” live. They took stage right after 9.00 pm and for more than an hour without any interruption they led us into the fabulous journey of William and Margaret adventure that in the live performance resulted in a more entertaining, intriguing and powerful experience than on album.

The execution and the arrangements of the songs were faithful to the recorded version with very few variations: the wonderful highlight on percussions on The Rake’s song with four members on stage playing drums and The Hazards of love 3, used as an intercourse to have a brief break and rearrange on stage while the pre-recorded children choir was cursing the Rake.

The amazing mix of lyrics, music, choreography and theatrical representation that the Decemberists were able to put together was enhanced by the wonderful performances of Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden. In particular I was impressed by the vocal and scenic presence of Shara that delivered a magnificent interpretation of the creepy William’s adoptive Forest Queen mother.

The perfect planning and timing for instrument exchange - thanks to the great work of the stage assistants - made the “narration” flow seamlessly even if there were some minor technical issues (the over loud feedback on the accordion during Annan Water and the problem with guitars tune on An Interlude) but apart from that the performance was absolutely great considering that it was the tour premiere.

The highlights of the main set were a wonderful version of The wanting comes in rage/ Repaid, the incredibly powerful execution of The Rake’s song, The Abduction of Margaret and The Queen's Rebuke / The Crossing, together with the great closing song The Hazards of Love 4.

After that the band took 20 minutes break before getting back on stage. The second part of the show was a totally different story. Meloy greeted the audience (the entire first set was played continuously without taking a break or addressing the crowd) and started a mainly acoustic and more intimate set.

After the great theatrical, musical and lyrical impact of the main set the band appeared more relaxed on stage and for the remaining hour it was like sitting on the sofa with good friends listening to the old well known stories.

The second set started with the inevitable Los Angeles I’m yours followed by July July, Eli the Barrel Boy and an intense version of We Both Go Down together. The whole band was on stage for If Could Only Win Your Love (an Emmylou Harris cover performed with Becky Stark while Chris Funk was playing slide guitar). The country-folk mood of the set up to this point was highlighted by Meloy (“It seems like a country review out here!”) before moving slowly into something different (Yankee Bayonnet with Shara Worden, Dracula's Daughter and O Valencia!) until the closing climax of Boys and Daughter.

As for the encore the Decemberists, after the duo Maloy – Moen for The Rain Coat, said good bay to a cheering crowd with the beautiful (and so appropriate for all of us “Hollywood dudes” out there) I Was Meant For the Stage.

( Carlo Torniai )

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