If you often feel that time passes too slowly and you’d like, more than anything, to hurry yourself towards death, you need to see The Decemberists live on as regular a basis as finance and geography permit. They have the power to make two hours pass in a blur that feels a hell of a lot more like 20 minutes, as well as the mind-mangling ability to make you realise what loving someone more than life actually means. In all honesty it’s a miracle this is getting written at all – we’ve only very narrowly avoided running away to sea.
At the last of their UK shows to promote their latest (magnificent) album, The King is Dead, The Decemberists jam-packed the Hammersmith Apollo with friendly, romantic souls for an immense evening of teasing, sing-alongs and massive drums.
Lead singer Colin Meloy is a master of crowd-control: rather like a witty teacher who reigns with an iron fist whilst inspiring full-throttle lust in his students, he ignores heckling by pretending he can’t understand ‘British’, and has the crowd singing the “dah-de-dah-de-dah-dedahdedahdedah” bit of ’16 Military Wives’ at volumes varying from “yelling at your parents” to “sing it in your head”. He’s our favourite teacher by a country mile.
The band have adopted a new member for this tour: a multi-talented powerhouse of a woman called Sara Watkins. She has a massive, bluesy voice, phenomenal skills on the violin, and she bangs a drum like a rock-hard Amazon. FFS wants to be her. No jokes.
The Decemberists evidently have such fun playing together, and watching them was an utter, unadulterated joy. They were everything FFS could have wanted live: big, loud, and perfect. We only hope we don’t have to wait too long for our next dose.