The Decemberists - Central Park's SummerStage, 7/16/07

If you go through your CD (ok, mp3) collection, how many of your favorite bands have you never had a chance to see live? I consider myself lucky in that the list of my top-tier artists that I've yet to catch is short and ever shrinking. Last night I finally crossed one off the list officially that had until now been asterisked. (5 song sets at the Apple Store, while certainly cool, don't quite count.)

The Decemberists got off to a surprisingly rocky start with two of their best in "July, July!" and "Billy Liar," but it wasn't long after that Colin Meloy & Co. launched into "The Perfect Crime 2" (far from my favorite song in recorded form) with an undeniable energy and awesomely loud electric guitar. The night was theirs from that point on.

In hindsight, it's probably a function of the acoustics (or lack thereof) of a large outdoor venue like SummerStage that caused some of the less electric songs to sound a little hollow. But on such a beautiful night in Central Park, with planes passing overhead and only the tallest city lights peeking over the trees, it was hard to care.

Of special note: the encore, which included "Red Right Ankle," "Oceanside," Colin forcibly putting the band and audience to sleep (or...making us all sit down) in an extended interlude during "The Chimbley Sweep," and a truly rad rendition of "The Mariner's Revenge Song" that was thankfully not cut off early as the band ran over what's supposedly a very strict curfew.

Awesome show.

(Picture from Jonny Leather's flickr.)

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