I find it strange that people, including myself, have a tendency to not appreciate something because everyone else does. You know what I’m talking about. Those phases have probably been a bit more drastic at different points in life. I admit, I can remember always being one of those people, where part of me wants to share in something with a group, and if everyone else gets in on it, well, then it’s not so much a special entity anymore. I’ve felt that way about clothes at times, or music. And I imagine if enough folks start wearing Ray-Bans, I’ll have to go find a new pair of spectacles. I remember when being “four-eyed” wasn’t cool. Humbling days.
We’re living in a post-modern age, as they say. Therefore, trying to be unique and different is hard to come by. An artist has to recreate out of something else that has probably already been done before. And to be broad and abstract, if I may, this is what everyone has always done and will always do, recreate that is. The creating’s already been initiated.
And that’s what last night was. Colin Meloy is that sort of artist and he did a bit of recreating. His latest album with The Decemberists, The Hazard’s of Love, was performed from start to finish at The Tabernacle downtown with opening act Blind Pilot. The concept album has been done before (My dad once reminded me that Frank Sinatra was one of the first). I sense the cynicism. I get it. I know that what I experienced in the reinvented British-style rock ballads, millions of music fans have appreciated for decades. But nobody seems to be complaining about sex and the constant reinventing of that sort of art form. These choruses had little to do with lustful desires.
Colin Meloy and his comrades(including Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond) are up to something. And their musical performance wooed the sold-out audience like I imagine they’ve done in many cities. The Decemberists aren’t just playing music. They’re drawing us into a hopeful love story, of desire and revenge. They’re bringing life, dress-ed up and sweaty, wagering all the hazards of love. And they weren’t so much interested in what’s wrong with the world, but did their playful, romantic part in making it right. I felt like I was faced with crossing the river just like the protaganist, William, after his fancy, Margarette. They see it, the ancients always called us back to the river (Siddhartha, Jesus, etc.) Thank you for asking me to join.
And they didn’t even stop after the finish, but came back out for a full set of their usual material. Meloy’s crowd interactive, improve conclusion was a rendition of how the railroad made its way to Atlanta. What? Where are the musicians that enjoy life enough to live, and to bring it to life for all of us? The Decemberists couldn’t love what they do more. And that is a beautiful rarity.
I only wish I could ask them one thing. Because it’s sad that the lovers die in the river (sorry if you didn’t know that yet). Mr. Meloy, do they really die in the river? Is their something to look forward to, a sequel, a little death bringing life? I hope so, because the hazards of love can’t be worth the risk if we’re all gonna drown in the river.