The Decemberists Dazzle Palace Crowd


Enthusiasts of wistful and wondrous folk and rock were welcomed by a welcome treat this past Sunday night – The Decemberists rolled into town with their A Peaceable Kingdom tour, promoting the release of their upcoming album As it Ever Was, So It Will Be Again – which marks their first release in over half a decade. The crew had last visited just over two years ago, but it had been some time since the Portland band had visited the lovely Palace Theater, perhaps the most perfectly suited venue for this band in town.

Chicago natives Ratboys opened the evening with a beautiful set of made-for-you-and-me style indie rock, songs that make you feel like they reach into who you are and give you a gentle hug. Julie Steiner’s heartfelt, honest lyrics – including confronting intense anxiety, as she called on one song in particular (“It’s Alive”)  – are juxtaposed against country-inspired, merry instrumentation that meshes into a unique, wholesome but thoughtful whole.

Decemberists arrested attention immediately – Colin Meloy was joined by sparse membership on stage for a brief acoustic set as he belted his heart out to Red Right Ankle and Don’t Go to the Woods – Jenny Conlee’s haunting accordion accompanying him as he took the Palace on a journey somewhere transcendent but familiar. This sparse arrangement was truly powerful – it seemed to almost be unable to be improved on as the show went on, but as they band came out and assembled themselves into their electric arrangements, that doubt was quickly washed away as they carried into Don’t Carry it All & Burial Ground, commanding the audience’s attention and reminding us that while the band can certainly be enchanting, their ability to rock is also not to be doubted!

Meloy wove into and out of charming anecdotes as the show proceeded, each time taking over the whole space with effortless charisma, and the night proceeded smoothly along and dipped all over the band’s back catalogue. The evening was magnificently concluded with the 20 minute encore Joan in the Garden, coming to a crashing close with cacophonous riffs, and an urgent, insistent pace that built to a  an explosive close.