The Decemberists with the Grant Park Orchestra Live at Millennium Park, Chicago, 7/18/07 (pics and video)...or how I got to touch Colin Meloy.
The Grant Park Music Festival kicked off with The Decemberists featuring the 82-member Grant Park Orchestra conducted by Sean O'Loughlin. Why does Chicago rule? The Grant Park Music Festival is apparently the nation’s only free, municipally-supported, outdoor summer classical music series.
This concert culminated a limited five-stop orchestral tour for the Decemberists, which started off at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic on July 7. It also is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Metro, one of Chicago's most beloved music venues.
First, here's a pic of the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion at Millenium Park.
It's hard to tell, but the place was crowded and definitely at capacity, which is 11,000 if you add up the main seating area plus lawn area behind me.
This was the view from the nosebleed center section, last row. The sound was amazing though, thanks to the mindblowing 113-speaker EV sound system.
The Decemberists performed selections from all of their LPs: 'The Crane Wife' ("The Crane Wife 1 and 2", "O Valencia"), 'Picaresque' ("The Infanta", "We Both Go Down Together", and more...see below), 'Castaways and Cutouts' ("Odalisque"), and 'Her Majesty the Decemberists' ("I Was Meant For The Stage", the last song performed with the orchestra). They also performed 'The Tain (I-V)', which was a sublime slice of heaven with the orchestra! I'll get into the encore performance later, when I got a major seat upgrade. =)
The Decemberists w/ the Grant Park Orchestra Live at Millennium Park - We Both Go Down Together
After the terrific set with the orchestra, the night went from simply amazing to otherworldly surreal. After the band and orchestra finished playing "I Was Meant for the Stage", they both made their way to the exits. I slipped into the VIP front section. I knew they weren't gonna leave without doing "16 Military Wives". Sure enough, they came back on stage. Security was telling people to find seats or leave the stage area, but that was essentially a moot point as Colin Meloy called for everyone to come right up to the stage. Thanks for nullifying security's crowd control efforts. =) I was basically right in front of Colin as the Decemberists did their encore performances: "16 Military Wives" and "The Mariner's Revenge Song".
The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives (Live at Millennium Park)
This was an energetic and rousing rendition that really got the crowd going. I will never forget the fun "LaDeDa" call and response with the audience.
The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge Song (Live at Millennium Park) part 1
For this song, Colin also enlisted audience participation by asking us to scream as if being eaten by a whale on the proper cue. Great moments: Jenny Conlee's cute-ish vocals and role playing, Colin and John getting interactive around the floor tom, the swaying part of the song, and Chris Funk running around like a madman cuing for us to scream. The highlight, however, was Colin leaning over from the stage allowing people (including myself) to touch his guitar and suit.
The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge Song (Live at Millennium Park) part 2
Oops, they weren't done. Here's the outro. Afterwards, things got a bit rowdy as he threw guitar picks into the crowd. I didn't snag any paraphernalia, but I left feeling all warm and fuzzy in a way that only great music can do to you (despite the rain and humidity).