Concert Review: Alvvays and The Decemberists

March 28, 2015: Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak

I would say that my Decemberists kick began back in mid-summer. One of the tracks from The King is Dead just happened to come up while my iPod was shuffling through tracks at work one day and I’ve been listening to the band nonstop ever since. I was elated when a new album and tour were announced and snatched up tickets the day they went on sale.

It felt like it took forever but finally the day arrived and my friends and I were in the Royal Oak Music Theatre discussing music and our current TV obsessions (The Unbreakable Kimmy Scmidt and Hannibal, seriously watch them if you haven’t) as we giddily awaited for The Decemberists to take the stage. Before that could happen of course, we were treated to the wonderfully bright musical stylings of Toronto based Alvvays. I had been meaning to check them out as their debut self-titled album premiered to decent reviews but just never got around to it. Now I’m glad that I waited to hear the band live before giving their debut a listen through.

Their set was a wonderful (albeit short) lineup of infectious summery tunes that made it hard for everyone packed into the Royal Oak Music Theatre to not bop around to the beat. At times Molly Rankins voice reminded me of Greta Morgan and one of her bands, Gold Motel which made me appreciate the band’s sound even more. Alvvays closed their set out on a strong note with their single, “Archie, Marry Me” and I made a note to get their album as soon as I got home. I gave it a listen while I wrote this and it’s made it’s way into my regular music rotation.

A dissonant instrumental piece announced that The Decemberists were finally taking the stage. The crowd roared with applause as each band member took their place before launching into “The Singer Addresses His Audience”, which is a great track to kick their show off with. Meloy and company wasted no time going right into fan favorite, “The Infanta” as soon as their opening track finished. It’s one of my favorite songs and I was elated to get to hear it performed live. I resisted the urge to check out their setlist fm page so that the entire night would be a surprise and I’m happy that I resisted to the urge to take a look.

We were treated to some delightful banter from Meloy including some insight into his songs. He played us the original version of “The Calamity Song” which started out as an attempt to get his son, Hank, to eat his oatmeal. We also learned that “Philomena” is Meloy’s attempt at crafting a sexy song like “Blurred Lines”. He made sure to note that the movie of the same name was released shortly after he finished the song and encouraged us all to think of Judi Dench whenever we heard as they played it for us.

My personal favorite parts of the evening were when the band played parts of The Crane Wife and The Hazards of Love together. The theatre went nuts when the instrumental introduction to “The Crane Wife 3” started and when the song continued into “The Island”. It really got my energy up for the rest of the show as my anticipation grew as I waited to hear anything from my current favorite album of theirs, The Hazards of Love. I was ecstatic when they launched into “The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid” a few songs later and carried it into my absolute favorite song of the moment, “The Rake’s Song”.

The night was over way too soon, and the band seemed to be taking the stage for their encore way before I was ready for them to. We were treated to the beautiful “12/17/12” before The Decemberists closed out the night with “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”. It was the perfect song to close the night on and I already can’t wait until I can see The Decemberists take the stage again.