I’d been waiting for an opportunity to catch The Decemberists live for almost ten years now. I thought maybe we’d missed the boat since leaving Amsterdam, so when I saw they’d be passing through Zurich on the current tour I jumped at the chance. They were well worth the wait!
It was the second last night on their current tour and while they seemed a little tired you also sensed they were making the most of their last nights on the road – a bit demob happy. They played a long set – almost two hours I think – and covered just about all of their albums. Their newest offering, while perhaps not as strong as The King is Dead, The Crane Wife or Picaresque, does have some good tunes and they went down quite well.
The highlights, however, were the older songs: The Rake’s Song from The Hazards of Love (with three other band members joining the drummer on floor toms); Sixteen Military Wives from Picaresque (including an entertaining dividing by the guitarist of the crowd into a small core that represented Switzerland surrounded by the EU hordes for a call-and-response sing-off); The Crane Wife 1,2&3; and – a personal favourite of mine – June Hymn from The King is Dead.
When I realised they were going to play The Mariner’s Revenge as the final song of their encore I was initially disappointed as I thought it’d be a bit of a downer. How wrong I was. They threw everything into it and had whipped the Zurich crowd into a frenzy by the end. (Yes, I did just use the words “Zurich” and “frenzy” in the same sentence.)
Definitely one of my favourite bands of the last decade and probably the next too.
Here’s a taste of how they sound live. The first one is a performance of Sixteen Military Wives from five years ago.
And this is a track from the new album, more or less as they performed it on Saturday.
(Nadine’s mum agreed to travel across this weekend to mind the kids so that we could head to Zurich for the night. All I can say is “Thank you Mo – we owe you big time!”)