The last of three! It was about a year ago that Colin Meloy embarked on a solo tour, and perhaps this is becoming a new tradition. If it is, he's in good company.
Colin Meloy, El Rey Theatre, January 21, 2006: Oh dear, as if populating his songs with characters that would make even Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson blush weren't enough, Colin had a stage setup that consisted of a table holding up a small galleon, a stuffed sheep, and a skull. Could the Bard be in his sights?
Fortunately, the skull was named Cheryl, probably not big on the baby register in the Renaissance. Also to his credit, Colin's music is built upon a solid foundation of poetry, melody, and emotion that overshadows the more precious moments he's prone to dreaming up. It's easy to see why the room of mostly underage fans were so taken with him and were ready to follow his every command, from snapping their fingers to banging their heads to closing their eyes and imagining themselves gathered around a campfire in Colorado. He is a masterful storyteller, and his tableaus are a far cry from, for example, the doctored reality programming that seems to have invaded every corner of our culture. And for those of us who can legally drink, it's never a bad thing when you hear not only strains of past influences but also the new twists that remind you how music can still surprise and delight.
The last year of extensive touring and growing acclaim has definitely improved Colin's stage presence, and he stepped up to the challenge of the bigger room, with style to spare. He did a couple of charming new songs, as well as much older tunes from his pre-Decemberists days. Predictably, my favorite songs are about places I know. I figured he had to hit "Los Angeles I'm Yours" in place of "Grace Cathedral Hill," but "California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade" was a nice olive branch.
Laura Viers, the opener, deserved credit as well for presenting herself to a room of someone else's rabid fans, armed only with her guitar and some loopers, it seems. Her more interesting numbers involved layering and other studio-style tricks. Otherwise, her plainer songs had a samey quality.
» it's been a while
» down the Hyde Street pier
» a writer, a writer of fictions