Monday, July 20, 2009

Fanning the Embers of Love

I will apologize for the lack of photos. We've taken a few, but I left the USB connector at home, so they'll just have to wait.

Portland this past weekend was much fun. A great lunch at Ping on Friday (followed by a better dinner at Toro Bravo) was made even better by the company. The concert on Saturday was pretty good. I am not a huge Andrew Bird fan, and, after Saturday night, I am still not, but, well, the man can whistle and loop multiple tracks like nobody's business. The Decemberists, on the other hand, well...!

This was my third opportunity to see Portland's favorite lit-rock collective. My first chance was a dynamite Blue Note show with Okkervil River opening. I fell in love with both of those bands that night. My second visit with Colin Melloy and his cronies was, again, at the Blue Note, during the Picaresque tour, and, honestly, I was a little disappointed. Unfortunately, I can not put my finger on exactly why, but no matter. The outdoor venue in Troutdale, OR, where we saw the band this time was easily bigger than the Blue Note. Hell, it was as big as all outdoors! And we were not close. I really thought that, by night's end, I would have thrown over my years-long love affair with a band with the best vocabulary since REM (my bias might be showing on this one). Boy was I wrong. Joined by Becky Starr of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond (two diamonds--go figure), the band came out and played their new recording, the song cycle (I don't know what to call it) The Hazards of Love in its entirety. That alone is impressive--an hour plus of rocking and cooing, of belting and crooning, with nary a break.

They left the stage afterward and soon returned to play another forty five minutes of older tunes, from "July! July!" and "Billy Liar" to "O Valencia!" The additional female vocalists returned for a spot-on cover of Heart's "Coming Straight On For You," before the band called it a set. Of course, they had an encore in them, The Crane Wife's "Sons and Daughters," through which the audience was challenged to keep a message in its heart: the song's ending refrain: "Hear all the bombs fade away...."

As Monkey and I navigated our way back to our friends' house in Portland, I was filled with the satisfaction of knowing my love for Colin and company was safe, and that I had found a new fascination in the powerful vocal work of Shara Worden. This women can belt out a tune. My Brightest Diamond is going to get a long hard look from me.

As if that weren't enough, I got to spend some of Sunday helping in the construction of a chicken coop. How's that for living vicariously?

Stay tuned for news of today's hike along the fog-bound coast around Heceta Head.


comoprozac said...

Carrie Brownstein referenced the same show on her blog.

Beware of My Brightest Diamond. We saw her open for Sufjan Stevens and thought she was awful. R also saw her open for the Decemberists and did not change her opinion.

She's like a poor man's Tori Amos.

La Fashionista said...

I want to hear about the chicken coop!