[purchase the original, banter-free version]
I have previously written about seeing The Decemberists with my family in 2007 in Amsterdam at the Paradiso, and how the band reenacted the 1667 Battle of Chatham, a successful Dutch attack on the British Navy. Such flights of fancy are common with this band, which seems on a mission to use every odd word in the thesaurus, whose songs often read like the most horrid parts of Dickens, and which has a keen appreciation of history and mythology.
There is also no question that they enjoy putting on a show, and they often interrupt the music for stories, historical reenactments and general hijinks. Which, when added to the great music, makes them an incredible band to see live. Although the band is currently in self-described “collective stasis” and its members are working on other projects, there is hope that they will ultimately reunite and tour again.
The video above is one that I recently discovered, and it is of the very Battle of Chatham reenactment at the Paradiso that we attended. A shaky, audience video taken with archaic 2007 technology, it gives the viewer a very good sense of what it was like that night, as Colin Meloy led the band and audience through the thrilling sea battle, during its performance of “A Cautionary Song,” a sweet ditty which warns a child to appreciate his mother’s hard work in whoring herself out to a boatload of sailors in order to get money for food.
During the video, my bald head, reflecting the lights, can clearly be seen—in the center of the frame, behind the other bald guy wearing what looks like a blue shirt—and at times my slightly taller son’s full head of hair makes an appearance. So, not only did this video record one of my favorite examples of stage banter, it has allowed me to relive a fun experience from more than six years ago.