The Scene: Fans of all ages braved the cold November night to pack the Paramount for The Decemberists triumphant return to Denver. The guys sitting right behind us were probably in their mid 50’s while the drunken frat boys who were chanting for more 15 minutes after the lights came up were hopefully no older than 17. The Paramount is a beautiful ornate old theater that compliments The Decemberists beautifully. The energy was high in the room and everyone was expecting one of The Decemberists typically fantastic performances. Alas it was not to be, but more about that later.
Opener: Alasdair Roberts. Unfortunately we missed his entire set.
The Decemberists: This review is going to be short because to be honest there isn’t too much to say. Unfortunately Colin Meloy, the band’s frontman, was sick as a dog. From the first notes of the opener, Crane Wife 3, it was clear that Meloy’s voice wasn’t cooperating. I thought maybe it was the monitors on the stage but Meloy soon admitted that he was sick and said he was going to do the best he could for us.
I have seen The Decemberists several times and they have always put on a fantastic show but with Meloy under the weather the whole band seemed flat. There just wasn’t the energy that there usually is a Decemberists show. Unfortunately the lack of energy on the stage translated into the crowd and even during the disco funk of The Perfect Crime the crowd just wasn’t as into it as they usually are.
I will say that, though the band was flat and not on their game, the stage set was beautiful. 8 large red Chinese laterns and a beautiful Chinese woodcut style backdrop featuring a crane in flight decorated the stage and set the scene for what could have been a fantastic show.
Meloy tried, but a mere 45 minutes into the show he took everyone by surprise and announced that he just couldn’t do it anymore and the band was about to play the final song of the evening. After a relatively spirited take of “Sons and Daughters” from The Crane Wife the band left the stage and the lights came up.
Yes it was disappointing but it happens; people get sick. The one thing that I ask is next time, cancel the show. Don’t make your fans, who have paid good money, sit through a mediocre to bad performance. Sure Meloy promised us “something special” next time they came through Denver but who knows if he’ll remember and even if he does will all those fans will be able to go next time to get their reward? Probably not. If you’re sick and can’t give it your all, cancel the show . . . period.
Stage Presence: C+
Set/Light Show: A-