Spoiler alert: As some point during their show at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Friday, The Decemberists will make a major theatrical production of “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” the expansive sea shanty/revenge tale from their Picaresque album that is one part biblical, one part Moby Dick, and one part Pinocchio.
That rendition will be entertaining, expertly-crafted, and, for anyone who’s ever attended a Decemberists show, warmly familiar. Basically, it’s a summation of the band.
Their geek-rock credentials now firmly established (this is the group that sings about boys in knickers, makes rock operas about doomed romances between man and beast, and cites David Foster Wallace novels), the Decemberists are never going to be a cool, hip band. But for what they lack in sex appeal and volatility, they more than make up for in earnestness, and seeing a band perform to such a devout group of fans can be a truly uplifting experience.
Touring behind their solid, if not spectacular sixth album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World—which is actually more personal and less narrative than their previous efforts—Colin Meloy and his cohorts will play in a venue fitting for their penchant for melodramatic musings. With its massive pillars, classic amphitheater design, and ability to perfectly capture the Bay Area sunset, the Greek Theatre has all the trappings for the drama and affectation that are staples of a Decemberists’ show.
No other venue is better for a guy who once wrote “I Was Meant for the Stage.” And when you witness Meloy mesmerize a crowd of 8,500 people while he performs, you’ll have to agree that he is right.
May 1, 2015