Night two of our eventful excursion to Orlando brought us to The Decemberists on their "A Short Fazed Hovel" tour, an anagram (oh, aren't they clever) of "The Hazards of Love", which is, of course, their long-awaited release from earlier this year.
Sadly, the venue didn't allow cameras, so I have no photographs to share with you of what was a truly phenomenal experience. On discovering exactly what I was heading in to see, i.e., a full play-through of the latest album, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. There are too many older songs that I would like to hear more, I thought, but oh, was I ever wrong.
The full theatrical performance of The Hazards of Love was massive, intense, moving. It melded everything I could want from theatre, musical theatre and a straight-up rock concert. Bringing along Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond to voice the parts they created on the album was absolutely essential and nothing less than inspired.
Perhaps that's the way things can be now, in an era where music seems to happen so fast, where so many new albums are released every week; the internet allowing near-limitless expansion while the street stores dwindle away to nothing. Perhaps that allows the artists more time and flexibility to take a break from their day jobs and go on tour with another band entirely. Lucky for us.
Sometime during the course of the "first act," I became convinced that Colin Meloy must have sold his soul to the devil. How else, how else? How else, indeed. Act two, on the other hand, perhaps unsurprisingly, seemed to be primarily about blowing off steam. They played some fun songs ("Billy Liar", "The Chimbley Sweep", "The Sporting Life", "O Valencia!") and the banter was unstoppable.
The highlight BY FAR was when Becky and Shara returned to the stage during the encore for a scintillating cover of Heart's "Crazy On You", and then they closed it out with a lovely albeit disconsolate rendition of "Sons & Daughters". So, if there are shows left to be had, if "A Short Fazed Hovel" is coming to your town or a town near you, I highly recommend that you attend.
It would be unfair of me to fail to mention Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames. I have to admit that I was so excited by the prospect of the upcoming--my first--Decemberists show and so off-put by what I took to be Ms. Veirs' faux-awkward-and-shy/Liz-Phair-esque demeanor that I failed completely to appreciate exactly what was going on on stage vis-a-vis the opening act.
Yet, somehow, thanks to the Resident Photographer, we managed to walk out of Hard Rock Live that night with signed copies of her 2005 release, "Year of Meteors", and the upcoming "July Flame", scheduled for release in early 2010. And, you know what, the albums have grown on me. They're pretty darn "tight," if you will, as expressed by one of the Flames. So, if you haven't already, give the girl with the pigtails and the guitar a chance, would you?