Friday, July 20, 2007

I was meant for applause

The Decemberists w/ The Grant Park Orchestra concert was extraordinary. I knew it was going to be great, but it beat my expectations. The arrangements were absolutely gorgeous.
Anyway, we got to the park a few hours early and kind of set up a picnic in line. It was very hot and very humid, and the weather report called for severe storms, with up to two inches of rain. So we were very nervous about what was going to happen with the weather.

People hanging out on the Great Lawn a couple of hours before the show.

At the venue, the first 20 or 30 rows are reserved for "Friends of the Park"--people who pay an annual membership to support the orchestra and other park events. In general, these people are very old, and since the Grant Park Music Series is mostly a classical affair, the old people generally know what they will be getting when they go to a show. Well, these old people did not know how to deal with the Decemberists. Of course the Decemberists are fairly mellow, but Colin Melloy's antics (running up and down the aisles, rolling around on stage, etc.) provided a nice dichotomy to the orchestral music going on behind him. But there were some of the old people (and I don't mean like "45 old"--we're talking 75) who got into the music, which was cute to see.

Once we were let in, we actually got to be in the first row of non-reserved seats, and then a bit later, because not all the reserved seats were taken, we got to move forward to even better seats.

The whole-stage view.

The show started promptly at 6:30 with "The Crane Wife 1 & 2," and immediately we knew that this concert was going to be something special. The music was simply beautiful. It did start raining a little, which caused some problems. Namely, many of the old people put up umbrellas, whic blocked the entire stage for many of us in the rows behind them. So then we decided to stand up. For a brief time, this caused some consternation from the people behind us whose view was not obstructed by umbrellas--they did not know why we were standing up at an orchestra concert. But then the rain stopped and the umbrellas went down and all was right again.

My pictures are a bit blurry, but this gives a good sense of what was going on onstage.

"We Both Go Down Together" and "Odalisque" were particularly lovely, and then the orchestra took a break and the Decemberists played "The Perfect Crime #2" on their own. This was great because the crowd got up and started dancing. Even the old people, at Colin's urging, stood up for a while.

The orchestra came back for a stunningly pretty rendition of "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," and then they played "The Tain," and this was truly amazing. I had never seen them sing it live before, and this, more than any other song in the set, set the heads of the non-Decemberists fans a-spinning.
We stood up for "O Valencia!" because, well, we had to dance. At this point the sky was very dark, and thunder and lightning were looming.

The highlight for me was "I Was Meant for the Stage," of course. It always brings back memories of BHS drama, and the arrangement was soul-stirring.

The orchestra was finished so they left the stage, but the band came back for an encore, and it was more of a true Decemberists concert. Most of the old people left before the encore, so Colin urged all the "young folks" to rush the stage, and "16 Military Wives" turned into a full sing-along, and I am sure the residents along Michigan Avenue could hear us all shouting "La di da di da di dada di da da!" And the final song was a fun and lively "The Mariner's Revenge Song," complete with an audience scream-along.

It was an amazing evening of great music. And the storm held off until we got back to the car, proving that God loves the Decemberists.


At 8:45 PM, Blogger gregariousmime posited...

Ah! You are so lucky!


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