The Decemberists brought its folk-rock storytelling to an eager, sold-out crowd at The Lifestyle Communities’ Pavilion Saturday night, despite nearly losing them until a powerful second half of the show brought them back.
The group came on shortly after opener Justin Townes Earle played a stripped down 45-minute set of acoustic songs to the receptive crowd.
The Decemberists opened with a nearly 10-minute piece of its EP “The Tain,” leaving the crowd slightly restless before entering into the upbeat “Calamity Song” from its latest album “The King Is Dead,” released Jan. 14.
The concise folk-rock of “The King Is Dead” was represented well, with the group playing seven of its 10 tracks.
The band also mixed in past hits and crowd favorites, such as “The Rake’s Song” and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.”
“For the first half, it could have been a better show,” said Chris Feisley, 21, a University of Toledo student. “They kept the crowd going, and it was a great show in the end.”
The audience ranged from college-age to those old enough to be their parents, though younger faces dominated the crowd.
Decemberists front man Colin Meloy was verbally interactive throughout the show, making many attempts at sarcastic humor, some better received than others.
At one point in the show, Meloy split the crowd in half, giving each side a different part to sing, and then proceeded to conduct the two halves from the stage.
One of the show’s highlights was crowd-favorite “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” a winding tale about two men stranded in the belly of a whale. The tune included coordinated audience screaming at the moment in the story when the men were swallowed by the whale, as well as dancing and theatrics by the members of the band on stage.
“I thought they were really entertaining. They put on a good show,” said Kristen Gismondi, 20, of Youngstown. “I liked the audience participation.”
The most serious moment of the evening came when Meloy introduced new song “This Is Why We Fight” by relating it to Senate Bill 5. He said we are all part of a greater community and declared his support for union workers, drawing loud applause before kicking into the powerful tune.
The Decemberists enraptured the audience throughout the second half of the show, eventually rewarding the crowd’s incessant cheering with two encores.
The concert was brought to a close when Meloy said the recent stormy weather is just a sign that the seasons are changing before finishing with “June Hymn,” an ode to summer.
“It was fantastic tonight, I think the sound was a little off sometimes, but other than that, it was absolutely perfect,” said Kevin Rutherford, 21, an Ohio University student. “They’re never a dull moment.”