Colin Meloy/ Laura Veirs show (Jan.19, 2006)

| On
Friday, February 10, 2006

Colin Meloy
Originally uploaded by Love Dr..
Once again I have waited too long to write up a show. I don't know what happens. I think at first I just want to enjoy it in my head a little longer, then I start thinking I'll do it soon, and then three weeks have gone by!
This was a great show! I know it must seem like there is no show I don't like at this point -- but what can I say? I keep going to good ones. Blondie gave me and Bec tickets for Christmas presents, although we were going to go one way or another. (Thank you, Blondie!) The day before the show I got an IM from Leslie. A paraphrase of our conversation would go something like this:
me/her: are you going to Colin Meloy?
me/her: OMG! ME TOO!
Anyway, Bec and I sat with Leslie and her friends who were kind enough to save us some very choice seats. This performance was sold out, but since it was a solo acoustic show, it was also a sit down show. Much like during the Jude show, the space between the first row of regular seats and the stage was completely filled in with chairs. The crowd seemed older/more mixed than the Decemberist's show in November, but I quickly realized that it was because unlike at the Roseland (where the Decemberist's show had been) in the Aladdin drinking was not segregated to the mezzanine.

Laura Veirs writes elemental songs. Water, ice, snow, meteors, the moon, lightning, and other items relating to the physical, natural universe are not uncommon subjects. If she has written a song about plate tectonics or atmospheric gasses I would not be surprised. Don't get me wrong -- it's not like she's a singing version of an Earth Science textbook. Her imagination and lyrics are not fettered to this earth. She is simultaneously writing about love and loss (like everyone) but she manages to tie it all together with the very invisible forces of nature that hold us on the planet. There is also something (in certain songs) that gives off a kind of medieval vibe, but I'm not sure what it is. It's not as obvious Mary Timony's medieval period, but there's just something there that puts me in mind of it. (keeping in mind that I have only the vaguest notion of what medieval sounds like) a tiny little girl ties flowers on her wrists and the bees come round to adorn her.

Originally uploaded by derektor.
I didn't really know much about her before the show -- I had gotten ahold of her CD Carbon Glacier, but hadn't had a chance to listen to it much. For our show, she came out alone and just started playing without much preamble. It was just her, the guitar, and some magic foot buttons . During some of the songs, she would pick up a second microphone and sing into that -- I later figured out (because I am slow) that she was recording stuff RIGHT THEN, to use later in the song -- step on a button and her own voice would loop back and accompany her. This is some strategic planning! She's singing the song for now, but also prepping for the song in a minute. On a couple of songs I think she worked up to 3 or 4 layers. I heard some people in our section complain (gently, though) that she didn't sound very "smooth" -- well come on! I told my sister that she was basically doing the equivalent of making a dress or baking a cake on stage. She built that song right in front of us -- there's no way it would sound the same twice. I know that is more or less true of any live performance, but it seemed especially true under these circumstances. I thought she was pretty great, but I can see how she wouldn't be something I would listen to all the time. All of which isn't to say that I wasn't ready for Colin when he came on, just that Laura Veirs was a felicitous opening act.

Since it was acoustic with just one person for each act, there was not a lot of equipment that needed to be moved around between sets. I think the break was as long as it was mostly to give people a chance to go buy more drinks and merchandise (which included the buy it at the concert-only Colin Meloy sings Shirley Collins, which I did buy, but not until after the show).

A small table with a tablecloth and two lumpy things on it was brought out. When the lights came up a little bit, I could tell that it was a skull, and what looked like a purse (but turned out to be a model of a Tall Ship). After Colin came out he explained (this is where I forget things) that they either told him he needed props during his first show (which was the night before in Seattle), or they lauded and/or were creeped out by his choice of props. In any case, one of those is (or might be) the reason for the skull. But he decided that the skull alone was a little spare, so it was joined by the ship. Over the course of the evening there would be little snippets about the skull, and then it came out that the skull needed a name. Nothing gets a room full of people shouting faster than a "please name this skull sitting on my table." Lots of skull appropriate names (masculine, Shakesperean, Heavy Metalean) until one voice broke out above the rest from the back of the auditorium and shouted "CHERYL!" Once I heard that, I knew Cheryl would be it, and Cheryl it was. So, Cheryl the skull stared at the audience from her hollow eye sockets to remind us that death comes to us all. Good old Cheryl.

Colin Meloy was fantastic, and I don't think anyone who was at the show would disagree. He has such an easygoing manner from the stage and in interviews, but the truth of the matter is he is a total ham and loves performing. And we love him for it! He sang a mix of Decemberists songs, Shirley Collins songs (traditional british folk ballads), at least one song from his band before the Decemberists, and some brand new songs that haven't been recorded yet for the D's new album. He's the main songwriter, but some of his bandmates were in the audience. Colin would break away and say "guitar solo here, Chris. Or maybe mandolin." Anyway, it was cute and not annoying like it probably sounds.

This is the second time he has done one of these solo tours, and I guess it has now become tradition for a concert-only EP. As I mentioned before, this time it was Colin Meloy sings Shirley Collins which is a collection of five british folk-ballads. It is beautifully packaged -- Carson Ellis, who has done all of the artwork for the band (and is also Meloy's girlfriend and baby mama) designed a lovely cover, it was recorded "at home" and also packaged in their living room. I am just sorry that I didn't get on the ball sooner to get last tour's Colin Meloy sings Morrisey EP. I also notice in the liner notes he thanks Wesley Stace, which pleases me (perversely!) because I was at the Livewire/Wordstock show where they met for the first time.

I have acquired a list of all the songs he sang at our show and have copied it out below (with notes, because I love notes). Fortunately for anyone who would like to actually HEAR the show instead of just reading my fractured memory of it, you are in luck. Well, not for the Portland show, but for the last show of the tour. NPR's All Songs Considered has streaming audio or downloads available for the show (the download is one huge file). I've not heard all of it yet, but it sounds like he acquired a couple of new props, Cheryl is still Cheryl, and he sings many of the same songs (but not all).

Devil's Elbow -- He writes a lot of songs about joints. Elbows, ankles... knuckles and knees have got to be next.
Engine Driver -- I am a writer, a writer of fictions/ I am the heart that you call home. I've written pages upon pages/ trying to rid you from my bones
We Both Go Down Together -- a double suicide song, which I never realized until he mentioned it because of my aforementioned thick-headedness and heretofore unmentioned obliviousness. I think I get distracted by the white cliffs of Dover, off of which they have no doubt flung themselves, but my brain just stops at "white cliffs of dover," and then skips right to the veranda/Miranda rhyme.
New song about Summer -- he said it was written in Ireland, I think -- I really dug it, but I love summer so I'm hardly impartial.
Weird and Wonderful --new song about his soon to be born baby. Awww. Sort of tooth-achingly sweet, but he seems aware and just couldn't stop himself. It happens.
California One/Youth and Beauty -- so great, even with just one guy and a guitar.
Barbara Allen one of the Shirley Collins songs. Love and Death, the usual.
Everything I Try To Do, Nothing Seems To Turn Out Right -- WAAAAAAH! He says slacks. But only once. I am 1/100th less enamored. But the rest of the song does capture that "everything I do is wrong" feeling.
Red Right Ankle -- this is one of my favorite songs and there's not a pirate or band of brigands to be found.
New song about Shankhill Butchers -- I love this crazy song. There are cleavers and grossness, but it was so insanely, homicidally catchy
Tristan and Iseult -Will it ever work out for those crazy kids? Oh, wait. nevermind.
Here I Dreamt I was an Architect/Dreams (yes, Fleetwood Mac's Dreams)

Apology Song - a song about a stolen bicycle. It is surprisingly compelling.
Bandit Queen (w/ tap dancing) - This was the very last number and he asked if there was anyone in the audience who could tapdance. A girl (who I had noticed standing near the stage taking pictures) said "I CAN!" Leslie leaned over and said to me "she so cannot tap dance!" Me, being all sheltered and naive said "well, maybe she can..." but I have to admit even I was a little dubious. The set-up was that Colin would sing this fun westerny ode to his Bandit Queen, and then when the time was right, the "pickme" girl would do her little dance. She got to sit on the stage until it was time for her big moment... and Leslie was totally right! We decided maybe she thought he asked "is anybody drunk?" Mark my words -- "Tap Dancing" will become the new catch phrase for girls who have drunk too much. "those tap dancers wouldn't shut up!" and so on.
2 comments on "Colin Meloy/ Laura Veirs show (Jan.19, 2006)"
  1. Man, I got a couple of tap dancers living next door to me! Well, probably just one but she has a bunch of damn tap dancing friends!
    I think I forgot to tell you that the original tap dancer from that show shoved her way past my friend Jill and then turned to her and said "do you recognize me? I was on stage!"
    The part I remember about the skull prop was that when he busted it out the first time, the crew in Seattle asked him if he was going to put on a skit because there's just something about a skull on a table that universally makes people expect a skit. He said it much funnier, but I thought maybe that would jog something for you!

  2. OMG! That girl = so rude! I am sorry I ever thought she might be able to actually tap dance!

    ooh! that's right about the skit! I completely forgot about that. I swear, my brains are leaking out of my ears as I type. I wish I could burn that Virginia show (from NPR) to a disc (it's too long) to listen to not-on-the-computer. He has a lot of similar chit chat, but none of it is verbatim (which is always nice). Anyway - the file is about 88 MB, which I don't have enough room for on my iPod, but if you (or anyone you know with an ipod) wanted to hear another show, I would recommend it!

    I'm sorry you've got tap-dancers living next door. What's the natural enemy of the tap-dancer? Maybe you can work it from that angle...


Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon