Before The Decemberists' Colin Meloy came out onto the stage of Town Hall, a beautiful theatre located in New York City’s Times Square, a small table with a red tablecloth was set next to the microphone. On the table was a sheep stuffed animal, a skull, a boat, and a bottle of wine. Meloy would later introduce each guest as if they were real people. The sheep was Erik with a “k”, the skull was Cheryl, the boat was Maya Angelou, and the wine was Gerard. At first sight, the table did not make much sense to me, but by the time the night was over, it would have been strange if the table wasn’tthere.
Meloy started his set with a Tarkio song, his band before Decemberists. He explained that Kill Rock Stars had re-released a Tarkio album just a few days ago. He continued with three songs from Picaresque, The Decemberists latest album. “We Both Go Down Together”,“Engine Driver”, and “Bus Mall” took on a new life when played solely on Meloy’s 12-string acoustic guitar. His voice was as confident and powerful as I’ve ever heard anyone sing before. While a lot of people have problems with Meloy’s strange style of singing, it would be impossible to argue his bravura last night. By the time Meloy had finished “Engine Driver” and “Bus Mall” without stopping, as it appears on the album, he could have complained about his throat, left the stage, and the audience would have gotten their money’s worth. It was that good.
Meloy’s humor was present throughout the whole show, and after an emotionally-drenched trio of Picaresque songs, Meloy jokingly explained that he had broken one of his golden rules of songwriting. He promised himself that he would never write a song about having a child. He then proceeded to tell the audience that his girlfriend Carson was pregnant and that he had broken his rule. Meloy sang, “It was only me and you that made this three come out of two.” It was the most overtly “I’m going to be a daddy” song I’ve ever heard.
Meloy would continue with a few more songs including “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” before he invited John Wesley Harding on stage to perform two songs from his latest EP, Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins. After Harding’s departure, Meloy played “California One/Youth and Beauty Briagade”, the last medley of songs from Castaways and Cutouts. The medley ended in a short cover of The Smiths’ “Ask Me.”
Meloy has a star quality that not many people can ever hope to possess. He’s confident, funny, bright, and most importantly, incredibly talented. He’s an indie rock heartthrob. His voice soared last night and everyone in Town Hall was treated to one of “those shows.” It was the kind of moment where you know you’re seeing something more important than you can possibly understand at the time it’s actually happening. I can’t imagine that Meloy will have a hard time reaching ranks of his doppelganger, Ben Gibbard, as his band The Decemberists recently signed a major label deal with Capitol Records.
Source: Jeff Thrope