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The Decemberists recently came out with a new album entitled The King Is Dead which is quite brilliant, catchy and very similar to their old material which is very good.

I had the chance of seeing The Decemberists at HMV Forum a few years ago right after the release of The Hazards of Love. This was back in November 18, 2009 which was during the Internet blackout at our new place and gigs piled up one after the other such as Deftones, Mew, Muse, etc.

For that show, they played two sets, the first of which was The Hazards of Love in it's entirety and this was quite a memorable experience. The second set was composed of a mix from all their other albums at the time but sadly, no The Mariner's Revenge Song. As mentioned by someone in the crowd while I was leaving, you haven't really experienced The Decemberists until you've seen them perform The Mariner's Revenge Song.

With this in mind as well as a new album and the fact that the gig was again on my day off, I didn't think twice about purchasing tickets as soon as the gig was announced.

The venue for this evening is a popular London music venue which surprisingly, I've never been too. It's the Apollo Hammersmith, also known by it's sponsors name, HMV Apollo.

Size-wise, Apollo Hammersmith is around the same size as of Brixton Academy. One can actually make a direct comparison between the two since they have almost the same layout including a slight gradient on the floor which made viewing the stage so much easier. Compared to Brixton though, it just seemed and felt a little bit dirtier. Weird. When it comes to acoustics though, I have to say it blows Brixton Academy out of the water.

Support for the evening was Blind Pilot who are also an indie folk band from Portland, Oregon similar to The Decemberists. Their sound was quite different though since they used less instruments but they pulled of an imaginative set. They put on a very enjoyable set and were perfect in setting up the atmosphere for the headlining band. If you have to listen to just one song from them, try 3 Rounds And A Sound.

Having a support band this time was a welcome option as there was none at The Forum as The Decemberists played two sets anyway.

Bands with a new record released normally start the show with a a new song from the new record. For The Decemberists first song, they dug real deep and played Shiny which is from the very early 5 Songs EP.

A nice change to hook in longtime fans first as I've sometimes found new songs as opening numbers as a bit alienating at times. After the first song, they moved on to a trifecta of The King Is Dead tunes with Down By The Water, Calamity Song and Rise To Me.

Here's the full setlist from the evening to simplify things. Again, from Setlist.fm.

  • Shiny

  • Down By The Water

  • Calamity Song

  • Rise to Me

  • We Both Go Down Together

  • The Bagman's Gambit

  • Won't Want for Love

  • An Interlude

  • The Crane Wife 1 and 2

  • The Crane Wife 3

  • The Rake's Song

  • Don't Carry it All

  • Rox in the Box

  • This is Why We Fight

  • Sixteen Military Wives

  • The Hazards of Love 4 (encore 1)

  • The Mariner's Revenge Song (encore 1)

  • June Hymn (encore 2)

The band had Sara Watkins on tour with them providing violin and vocals as Becky (Hazards of Love) was no longer around. Her singing voice was first put to the test on Won't Want For Love and I have to say, she did a pretty good job.

Playing The Crane Wife 1 and 2 followed by The Crane Wife 3 was a simply lovely. As the title suggests, the two songs go hand in hand and deserve to be played in succession.

The energy in the crowd spiked during songs such as We Both Go Down Together, The Rake's Song, and Rox in the Box.

Prior to starting this evening, I had my mind set that I'd be happy if they played This Is Why We Fight and/or The Mariner's Revenge Song. This Is Why We Fight is such a lovely song and it easily became my favourite song from The King Is Dead. So when they started playing the song, I almost couldn't contain my excitement. If I get my act together, this would be one of the first songs I'd learn playing on a guitar.

The last time I saw them, I remember the interactivity between the band (mostly Colin) and the crowd. At The Forum, he asked everyone to go quiet, sit down and slowly stand up at his command. It was a wonderful experience.

It was during the song Sixteen Military Wives and a similar thing happened here at the Apollo. We did the "la-di-dah" part over and over again. Colin had everyone gradually soften the singing close to making it a whisper and then slowly making it louder. Even though the song dragged on for quite sometime, it was ridiculously good fun.

The Decemberists left the stage but of course came back for an encore which started of with The Hazards of Love 4, a nice and slow song. Before proceeding with the next song, further instructions to the crowd where given with the help of Chris Funk as audience participation was needed for the next song. This involved screaming like being eaten by a whale. Of course, everyone knew that the next song would be The Mariner's Revenge Song much to my delight yet again. I'm plenty sure I wasn't the only one who felt the excitement and joy at this moment.

When the whale part eventually came, everyone really did scream. It was way fun watching members of the band acting out the song on stage. The Mariner's Revenge Songs is simply one of those epic songs with a lovely story as well.

At this point, I was more than just satisfied with the incredible set The Decemberists put on but the band came back on stage for another song, June Hymn which is also from The King Is Dead.

This evening, like the other Decemberist show, was another memorable experience. It is truly amazing seeing such a talented band onstage and completely enjoying themselves and drawing the crowd into the performance.