Storytelling Through Song And Stage – The Decemberists Rock And Regale The Greek

For some reason this did not post last week… so you get it now!!!

The Decemberists At The Greek – Sat. May 2, 2015
A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO KCRW and their ticket contests!!! It SO pays to be a member and support this great station.

What makes us human, I believe, is the art of storytelling. We have been telling stories since our cave man days, which has been proven through the discoveries of cave wall drawings and paintings.

javier-trueba-cave-of-the-hands-argentina ancient-artwork-on-the-walls-of-the-cave-at-lascaux

Clearly it has evolved over the years, with the invention of spoken language, the written word and the printing press, books, etc.

Today, Pixar films are considered amongst the best storytelling of all time. How can one ever forget the absolutely brilliant and moving opening of Up; which was able to tell the most poignant love story in several minutes, with no words or dialogue. So powerful… so moving. Just thinking about it makes me emotional.

images As I watched another of my favorite bands, The Decemberists, at the Greek Theatre this past Saturday night (May 2), I realized how much good music really is, essentially, storytelling. It uses music and lyrics to create characters, images, situations and themes… real or imagined. And when you see a band live, the enthusiasm, the energy, the interaction, the dance, the staging, the lighting is all part of the storytelling… and used to create those tales… to bring them to life, in a once-in-a-lifetime way… No two performances are every exactly the same.

“And if only for a second
(Only for a second)
And if only for a time
(Only for a time)

And if only for a second
(Only for a second)
And if only for a time
We’ll be alive
We’ll be alive…”

The Decemberists “Cavalry Captain”

This song is off their stunningly beautiful new record What A Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. I adore this track and the entire album, and I can tell you that for those two or so hours at the Greek, everyone there was alive. How do we hold on to that? How do we keep that upbeat, glorious feeling going… and move it into our daily lives?

At a concert we get the story of the song and hopefully, sometimes, the story behind the song. It is communication at its purest form, because storytelling is a retelling of history, a retelling of the past, but also a wish for the future… a desire to have things be a certain way. Ideally it is a way for us to learn from our past… and create a new scenario… hopefully.

This is what human lives are. We think… we feel… we have memories. We talk about our family and relatives. We talk about our childhood… We learn from it… we grow from it. We talk about our dreams. We talk about our goals. We talk to each other about life and love. We bond over words… and music… which is why the arts… theatre, live music, orchestras, symphonies, concerts, performances, paintings, sculptures… are so vital and important to humanity. Through them we realize that we are all very, very similar… and have a common bond, a common thread, a common DNA, both literal and metaphorical. THIS is what makes us human beings… musical, theatrical and yes, sometimes too dramatic human beings.

The Decemberists took us on a journey through folk, Americana and good old Rock n’ Roll. They were vital and joyous and they seemed to truly love what they were doing. That makes a HUGE difference to a show and how much it affects and moves us. Yes, they are professionals… Yes, this is a job which should be taken seriously… but it is music… MUSIC… It HAS TO BE FUN!!! If it is not, and not a celebration and joyful, then it is lost.

The opener, Lucius was the same way. They loved to be performing for us, yes… but it was something more… a connection… a human connection.


  • The Singer Addresses His Audience
  • Cavalry Captain
  • Down by the Water
  • Hank Eat Your Oatmeal / Calamity Song
  • Billy Liar
  • Philomena
  • The Wrong Year
  • Make You Better
  • Carolina Low
  • The Crane Wife 1 & 2
  • The Crane Wife 3
  • Los Angeles, I’m Yours
  • The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
  • The Rake’s Song
  • 16 Military Wives
  • Dracula’s Daughter / O Valencia!
  • A Beginning Song


  • 12/17/12
  • The Mariner’s Revenge Song

The first two songs mirrored the opening of the new album… and obviously that record was probably the most represented of the evening, but they did a great job of working their entire catalog.

“The Singer Addresses His Audience” is about the most perfect way of starting any show, as it is a most brilliant and honest song about the relationship between fans and a band or musicians they love. It could easily  be egotistical if it was not so honest and sincere… and right on. It recognizes what we expect of each other… and how bands, though we often don’t want them to, have to change and grow and explore… especially in order to stay vital and together! Well done, Colin Meloy!

I would have loved more from The King Is Dead, which I still think is my favorite… and two songs were not enough… But I also am really enthralled with the new one. I cannot stop listening.

The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid from The Hazards Of Love album was an absolute highlight, with guitars and vocals soaring. What a night!

As we left the beautiful outdoor Greek Theatre, and made our way back to the car, we felt alive… we were alive…

By writing this, I am keeping that energy alive, sharing… and telling the story… re-telling the story… my experience… my story… and THAT is what live music is all about. A common space, a common band, a common love… and a whole bunch of human beings, dancing and singing and finding those moments of bliss. Rock on!


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Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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