Thursday, January 19, 2006

live review: colin meloy [featuring laura veirs]; the showbox, 01/18/06

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it's really no secret that colin meloy is my favorite songwriter. missing his solo performance at the triple door last year was possibly my only regret of 2005. however, i totally redeemed myself when i bought tickets to last night's show. although i've seen the decemberists live and have known what to expect, seeing colin meloy onstage all by himself was a slightly different experience.

laura veirs took the stage first. for her first song, "galaxies," she had an effect on her amplified acoustic guitar that made it sound like an electric. then, she played "spelunking," which is one of my favorite songs off of her
year of meteors full-length. it sounded just as beautiful as it did on record, by the way. between songs, she was quiet and thankful for the audience's attention. while she played, she kinda swayed from side to side, which i kinda think is a nervous tic, but i could be wrong. there were some songs like "parisian dream" in which she used a looping pedal, layering vocals and guitar parts, making them sound wonderful live. using a drum machine for "lake swimming," at the end of the song, she used the looping pedal again, carrying the song well past six minutes. she ended with "fire snakes," and had the drum machine, looping pedals, and her wonderful voice to create a climactic ending to a wonderful set.

after a not-too-long setup time [this is a solo tour, the epitome of low-maintenace], colin took the stage to near-thunderous applause. colin started off by playing "devil's elbow" [which i later found out is a tariko song]. after a comically awkward banter break to talk about writing a song on the coast of oregon, he says, "this is why i couldn't go on vh1 storytellers." then, he sings a song about "another cliff; far, far away from that.. oregon.. um.. cliff," and plays "we both go down together." someone in the crowd was celebrating a birthday, and gave colin a piece of cake [yes. a piece of cake]. he was tempted to eat it, but stressed that it "gums up the [vocal] chords," so he would save it for after the show. colin's awkward, yet hillarious onstage banter is what sets him apart from any other singer/songwriter performing a solo show. colin was wearing a green shirt with some sort of design on the left breast, and was asked if it was a mistle thrush. "mistle thrushes are so 2005," he replied.

colin on solo tours: "everyone asks me why i like to go on solo tours." [heckler: "so, why do you go on solo tours?"] "see? i told you. i get that question all the time. well, not really. noone ever asks me why i go on solo tours, but i thought i would be a nice segue to the next song. i go on solo tours because i can sit in the dressing room in peace and quiet, without any of the bandmates, and their alcohol and cigarettes.. well, not really; it's because i can get all the hummus and chips and salsa i can eat. the truth is, i miss them. kinda."

colin on his series of cover ep's: "i'm sure a few of you came to last year's show, where i was selling morrissey cover ep's. well, this time around, i decided to go with a far more popular artist, shirley collins. shirley collins is a household name."

colin on solo tours [again]: "i like these things because they're really self-indulgent. i don't have to worry about playing 'your favorite album cuts,' like at decemberists shows. but i definitely want to play some of your favorites, because i want us all to be happy."

our hero played a very wide array of songs from his catalog: all three decemberists full-lengths were covered. he played "shiny," he played two tariko songs, and he also played "barbara allen" from the shirley collins ep. he also played a couple of new songs that he debuted at the woodland park zoo last summer, "valencia" and "shankhill butchers." he even broke his cardinal rule of songwriting: since he and carson's baby is due in march [don't do it, bethanne], he played us a brand new song about how cool it is to be expecting. if it ever gets released [i'm guessing b-side], it's probably going to be called "weird and wonderful." but i could be proven wrong.

colin on tour props: "i brought a skull on this tour, to set down on this table right here. i thought it was a really good idea at the time, but then, i set the skull on the table, and it was the only thing there. so i decided not to bring it out. plus, everyone thinks that i'm going to do a skit or a play or something because i have a skull onstage."

colin politely rejected a request for "the tain" [LOL], and "freebird."

colin on "freebird": "all over the country, all over the WORLD, the universal language is 'freebird.' no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people screaming for 'freebird.' no matter where you are."

colin teased us by playing a teeny bit of rick springfield's "jesse's girl."

about 3/4 of the way through the set, colin had the crowd literally doing stretches. "okay. bend down a little bit.. and up." fans new to the decemberists aren't used to this level of crowd participation, but longtime fans know what the fuck is up. "now, take the person directly to your left," and everyone looked to their left. "now, that doesn't work, does it? that's really interesting." the crowd roars with laughter. "okay, okay. take the person standing next to you, and introduce yourself to them." i shook hands with a nice, tall gentleman with a white-boy afro. then, he played "california one/youth and beauty brigade," and a hush fell over the crowd. colin had us in the palm of our hands.

our hero went backstage and was probably standing awkwardly as the crowd was stomping and clapping for him to play an encore.

he walked out with the skull. "you all thought i was joking. i was dead serious. DEAD.. serious." the audience playfully booed the corny joke. and for his encore, he played live favorite "red right ankle." then, he had us close our eyes as we imagined we were sitting in front of a campfire. "oh, you can open your eyes now. but to get the full effect, you can keep your eyes closed. but that would be kinda weird." then, he played "bandit queen" under the glow of a red stage light.

summary: i've made it no secret that colin meloy is my favorite songwriter. and due to his awkward [i'd hate to use that word for the hundreth time in this review, but nothing is more accurate] and jovial demeanor, he could also be one of my favorite performers. laura veirs was amazing. colin was amazing. i'd hate to call this the best show i will see in 2006, but anyone else i see this year has their work cut out for them.


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