The Decemberists Visit The Smith

“In the Hall of the Mountain King”, an orchestral piece written in 1875, tells the story of the dream-like fantasy of the title character standing in front the Mountain King with a great crowd of trolls, gnommes, and goblins. Then there is a tremendous uproar in the hall as the first lines are sung. “Slay him! The Christian man’s son has seduced the fairest maid of the Mountain King! Slay him! Slay him!”

The recorded song blasted from the 21-inch woofers Monday night at the Smith Opera House which opened just 19-years after the “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was written. Then there was an uproar as Colin Meloy and the Decemberists stepped up on their throne and blasted out “Everything is Awful” from their new release “I’ll Be Your Girl.”

Collin Meloy
I met Colin walking down Exchange Street.

The Portland, Oregon indie rock band has been around for 20 years and like any opera, their shows include politics and participation. Meloy sings about ‘that crashing sound” the sound of “everything is awful, everything is breaking down.” Ad-libbing “There’s white supermacist in the White House” and then pointing the microphone towards the nearly sold out crowd saying “Your being made to sing on the very first song of the concert.” And so it began two hours and 22-songs, from the band you never heard of, with sometimes flowery lyrics, lots of times dark, gothic-like lyrics.

New songs came quick “Your Ghost”, “Sucker’s Prayer” and the melodic “Cutting Stone.” Old favorites included “Grace Cathedral Hill”, “Yankeee Bayonet (I will Be Home Then)”, and the international intrigue story of “The Bagman’s Gambit.”

Photos by Jan Regan Photography-


My favorites were “Rox in a Box” when they slipped in a verse from “Blackleg Miner” then finshed again with “Rox in a Box.
Also it’s odd to like a song about infanticide, but always a crowd favorite “The Rake’s Song” from the rock opera “The Hazzards of Love” had five of the seven band members banging drums adding extra horror to the song’s dark lyrics.

More new songs including the synth-driven “Severed”, “Once In My Life” and the sing-a-long “We All Die Young.”

Add in the stars on the ceiling of the Smith, the great light show, the bands matching embroidered outfits, a floating whale ballon, and the giant skull with spinning X-ray eyes, it all made for a great show for all of us trolls, gnommes, and goblins.

Set List:

In the Hall of the Mountain King (recorded)

Everything is Awful
Your Ghost
Sucker’s Prayer
Make You Better
Cutting Stone
Grace Cathedral Hill
Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
The Bagman’s Gambit
Rox In The Box>Blackleg Miner>Rox In The Box
The Bandit Queen
Down by the Water
The Rake’s Song
We All Die Young
O Valencia!
Once in my Life
(Encore) Rusalka, Rusalka / Wild Rushes
Ben Franklin’s Song
I’ll Be Your Girl
The Mariner’s Revenge Song

-Greg Cotterill 4/25/18


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